The C.R.E.A.T.E. Lab: A Different Way to Learn

by Alexandra Bender


In the fall of 2012, three ESU faculty members, Pat Pinciotti (professor emeritus of the ECED/ELED Department), Dr. Diane Cavanagh (Professor of Special Education and Rehabilitation) and Dr. Margaret Benson (Associate Professor of the Early Childhood and Elementary Education Department) went on a study tour in Reggio Emilia, Italy, where they were introduced to an alternative style of teaching.

This teaching style focuses on creativity and open-mindedness rather than the restrictive, disciplined form of teaching most modern students are familiar with today.

This experience inspired the professors to bring such teaching methods back to ESU, and thus, the idea of the C.R.E.A.T.E. Lab was born.

By the fall of 2013, the C.R.E.A.T.E. Lab was instituted in its trial and error stages, and is now up and running.

According to their website, C.R.E.A.T.E. is an acronym for:

  • Connect ideas, feelings and people through playful collaborative inquiry
  • Realize the curious and creative potentials within and across individuals and disciplines
  • Engage body, mind, heart and hands to communicate powerful, innovative ideas about teaching and learning
  • Attend to the aesthetic, sustainable and imaginative qualities of natural and global environment
  • Transform thinking through critical and creative problem posing and problem solving
  • Expand possibilities by listening, documenting and curating our discoveries through multiple literacies and technologies.

The C.R.E.A.T.E. Lab, or C-Lab, is an art studio open to all ESU students and faculty.

It also offers special programs such as First Year Experience classes for freshman transition into the college environment, similar classes that work with students in the Early Start Program and classes that work with students in the Upward Bound Program (at-risk high school students).

Students studying elementary education sometimes go to the C-Lab to gain inspiration. Often, professors bring their classes to the C-Lab for a different learning environment.

The first C-Lab satellite was recently established at Resica Elementary, a local school in East Stroudsburg Area School District, and the work there is growing. Large groups of international students and a number of community groups are also interested in workshops and time in the lab. The lab has ESU President Marcia Welsh’s full support.

Pat Pinciotti, co-founder of the C-Lab, is proud to say, “The C.R.E.A.T.E. Lab is catching fire.”

The general idea behind the C.R.E.A.T.E. Lab is that students in a typical learning environment forget to express themselves. They are given predominantly non-creative assignments, which is inevitably harmful to their learning experience.

In an effort to combat this, the C-Lab encourages students and faculty alike to think outside of the box. Standing out and being an individual is important, and the C-Lab gives them the tools they need to pursue creativity.

The C.R.E.A.T.E. Lab has all of the materials and space one might need to be creative, and it is all free

“At the C-Lab, if you can think it, you can create it,” says Brenadette Acuria, an intern at the C.R.E.A.T.E. Lab and a senior at ESU.

The theme of the C-Lab this semester is faces, incorporating the One Book, One Campus theme of 2015, “Your Face in Mine” by Jess Row.

The C-Lab is asking students, “What does your face mean about you?”

If you are interested in exploring your inner creativity, expanding your mind and discovering a new way to learn, go to the C.R.E.A.T.E. Lab.

It is located in Stroud 107 and is open on Tuesdays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Wednesdays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, visit their website: