Creative Teaching and Teaching Creativity – Part I – How Creative Are You?

“Creativity is putting your imagination to work, and it’s produced the most extraordinary results in human culture.” – Sir Ken Robinson

The following series of excerpts were originally published in a three-part series for PMEA News, the state journal of the Pennsylvania Music Educators Association. To read the articles in their entirety, please visit my blog page “Creativity in Education – Are We Ready for a New Paradigm Shift?” at I have taken the liberty to extract, condense, and even add to this material.


Before the Common Core movement came “crashing down on us” commanding an exhaustive redesign of our curriculum and new high-stakes standardized testing, perhaps the more promising and innovative “buzz” was a recommendation to adopt 21st Century learning skill initiatives. Companies, businesses, and governments – the employers of the vast majority of the future work force – did not want their employees to settle for an education based on a “regurgitation of facts and figures,” but to demonstrate mastery of the work-related skills of communications and collaboration, and the thinking skills of critical thinking, problem solving, and creativity. According to the Partnership for 21st Century Skills (P21) group, in order for the United States to be able to “compete in a global society,” a refocus is essential on learning the skills of personal innovation. Advocating for 21st century readiness of every student, P21 emphasizes education in the best practices of creativity, originality, divergent thinking, flexibility and adaptability, communication, personal initiative and self-direction, and leadership and responsibility, among other themes including collaboration, global awareness, financial, economic, business, and entrepreneurial literacy, health and wellness awareness, and technology.

How Creative Are You?

Take this quick test, and try to think “outside the box.” This puzzle, first introduced to many of us by Michael Kumer at an early PMEA Summer Leadership Conference, instructs you to link all nine dots using four or fewer straight lines without lifting the pen, and without tracing the same line more than once. Can you solve this using four lines? For advanced visionaries, how about completing it with only three lines? Believe it or not, a super-creative person may be able to find a way to solve this problem with ONE line! (Answers at the end of this article.)


Numerous measurements have been proposed to evaluate a person’s creativity potential. Check out several of these:

Mind Tools’ questionnaire at illustrates a model for the “highly creative” personality.

How many of these terms describe YOU?

  • Willingness to take risks
  • Perseverance, drive, commitment to task
  • Curiosity
  • Openness, open-mindedness
  • Tolerance for ambiguity
  • Broad interests
  • Valuing originality
  • Intuition, being perceptive
  • Embracing the need to find solutions to problems
  • Being internally occupied, withdrawn, needing privacy
  • Awareness of own creativeness
  • Sense of humor
  • Being attracted by complexity and novelty

Feel free to share your perspective!

Respond to this blog. Be as creative as you want!

(More to come….)


© 2015 Paul K. Fox


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