More Creativity Resources

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Additional Perspectives and Research for Creativity in Education

One of the best statements of rationale for more inclusion of creativity in Grades K-12 schooling comes from the introductory page of the P21 Arts Map, designed in cooperation with nation’s arts educators and The Partnership for 21st Century Skills:

“Business leaders and visionary thinkers concerned about preparation of students for the future know that the ability to be creative – a key 21st Century Skill – is native to the arts and is one of the primary processes learned through arts education. The examples in this Skills Map illustrate how the arts promote work habits that cultivate curiosity, imagination, creativity, and evaluation skills. Students who possess these skills are better able to tolerate ambiguity, explore new realms of possibility, express their own thoughts and feelings and understand the perspectives of others.” – P21 Arts Map at http://www.P21.org (published in 2000)

creative-cubes-1509571Any discussion about creativity in education should begin with a thorough look at defining what it means to be innovative and original. As stated by the Partnership for 21st Century, essential factors in creativity are demonstrating originality and inventiveness in work, being open and responsive to new and diverse perspectives, developing, implementing, and communicating new ideas to others, and acting on creative ideas to make a tangible and useful contributions to the domain in which innovation occurs.

Download the entire P21 Arts Map by clicking on this link.

imagination-1199071Another fantastically in-depth resource is the website of Linda Naiman, founder of “Creativity At Work” and a pioneer of arts-based learning as a catalyst for developing creativity, innovation, and collaborative leadership in organizations.

She has posted one of the best definitions of “creativity” I have ever read:

“Creativity is the act of turning new and imaginative ideas into reality. Creativity is characterized by the ability to perceive the world in new ways, to find hidden patterns, to make connections between seemingly unrelated phenomena, and to generate solutions. Creativity involves two processes: thinking, then producing. If you have ideas, but don’t act on them, you are imaginative but not creative.” – Linda Naiman

A few of my favorite articles from her website:

In her blog on “Can Creativity Be Taught,” Naiman reflects on the research of George Land (1968-1993, revised in 2004) and a popular TedTalks video of his presentation “The Failure of Success” – https://youtu.be/ZfKMq-rYtnc.

open-door-classics-3-1245602Land’s statistics concluding with “non-creative behavior is learned” show that the longer a student is in school, the lower he/she scores on a creativity tests. We teach our children “not to risk being wrong” and don’t go “all out” in finding an unique solution to a problem… only respond with “the one correct answer!” This reminded me of a insightful Sir Ken Robinson TedTalks video, filmed in 2006, with more than 36 million viewers: (http://www.ted.com/talks/ken_robinson_says_schools_kill_creativity?language=en).  If you have not viewed any of Sir Ken’s TedTalks, you owe yourself a look!

One of Naiman’s blog posts is a book review for Let the Elephants Run: Unlocking Your Creativity and Changing Everything by David Usher. On my “required reading” list, this the-author-5-1166957brings us to our next stop for a more penetrative discussion of creativity in education! Usher asks, “How do we jump start our creative process as adults? What does it mean to be a creative person? How do we follow through with our ideas and turn them into tangible outcomes?” These are the fundamental questions with which we must grapple in order to enhance the creative potential and self-expression of our students.

Other excellent books on creativity that should be investigated include the following:

  • The Little Spark: 30 Ways to Ignite Your Creativity by Carrie Bloomston
  • The Creativity Challenge: Design, Experiment, Test, Innovate, Build, Create, Inspire, and Unleash Your Genius by Tanner Christensen
  • Insight Out: Get Ideas Out of Your Head and Into the World by Tina Seelig
  • inGenius: A Crash Course on Creativity by Tina Seeli
  • The Ignorant Maestro: How Great Leaders Inspire Unpredictable Brilliance by Itay Talgam
  • Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration by Ed Catmull and Amy Wallace

Finally, I will leave you with a link to the late great curriculum innovator and co-author of fingerpaint-1-1495376“Understanding By Design,” Grant Wiggins, who proposed a revolutionary framework for improving student achievement. Emphasizing the teacher’s critical role as a designer of student learning, UbD™ works within the standards-driven curriculum to help teachers clarify learning goals, devise revealing assessments of student understanding, and craft effective and engaging learning activities. Since his death in May 2015, I have noticed numerous postings (and variations) of his creative rubric:

Some more “creative” food for thought…

Care to comment? Please send me your favorite creativity links/publications.

If you have not read the rest of my articles (quoting other “masters”), here’s the list:

More to come…

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PKF

© 2016 Paul K. Fox

 

Creativity in Schools Revisited

“The best use of imagination is creativity. The worst use of imagination is anxiety.” – Deepak Chopra

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My Perspective and a Little Rehash on Creativity

Since June 2013 when I retired, I have looked back fondly to an exciting 35-year career in public school teaching, examining the purpose and impact of teaching music education to literally thousands of students. Being assigned to band/choral/orchestra ensembles, music theory and general music classes, as well as directing extracurricular chamber groups, plays, and musicals, I willingly embraced that hectic 24/7 schedule to have access to (and hopefully “inspire” creative self-expression in) my kids before, during and after school hours. Yes, we had musicians, singers, actors, and dancers who chose for themselves a career in the arts, and even more who entered into the noble quest of “giving back” by seeking employment as music educators. However, the largest majority of those students who studied with me went on to non-musical careers.

So, in reflection, was all of this worth it?

Sure it was, but not just to master the course content or complete so many concerts, theater productions, or music lessons. At this point, I have come to peace knowing that the main purpose of my job was to somehow motivate, engage, encourage, guide, and facilitate my students to realize their own success in creativity and self-expression… hopefully to last a lifetime.

Remember, in education, it is the “process” that truly matters, not solely the “product.”

“Creativity is as important as literacy”- Ken Robinson

sign-1268930Two years ago, I wrote a three-part series on the critical need, rationale of, and techniques for developing skills in teaching creativity as well as teaching more creatively. I based my compilations on the February 2013 issue “Creativity Now!” of the ASCD Educational Leadership magazine, and passed on the research and insight of creativity experts, self-expression advocates, and/or self-proclaimed ”right-brain” educational gurus Ronald Beghetto, Dr. Curtis Bonk, Eric Booth, Susan Brookhart, Roger von Oech, Daniel Pink, Sir Ken Robinson, and Robert and Michele Root-Bernstein.

With 2016 about to make its grand entrance, where are we now with creativity in the public schools? In Pennsylvania, the writing of meaningful and extensive “scope and sequence” creativity curriculum, and its implementation of essential questions, lesson targets, and pedagogy, still take a backseat to the highly politicized Common (and much more limited) Core subjects and standardized achievement tests, which the latter, in my opinion, measures very little of an individual’s potential for success. To this day, a focus on “Whole Child” and “customized learning” priorities remains to be lacking throughout the country. We need to “take action,” mandate further research, and propose teaching creativity as an art and a science, all along bringing the necessary courage and vision to make significant changes in our educational systems.

Thinking “Outside the Box”

thinking-out-of-the-box-2-1237525The continued fixation on “error-free” convergent thinking, a priority of the one-answer-only mentality, baffles me. 1+1+1 does not always equal three. I can give you at least two alternative answers: 11 or 1 (the sum in a binary system for the former and the result of drawing the Roman numeral “I” with one vertical line and two horizontal lines for the latter). This is an example of divergent thinking (“process or method used to generate creative ideas by exploring many possible solutions”), and sits at the top of the charts for higher order of thinking skills (HOTS) and depth of knowledge (DOK). Use of divergent thinking is much more valued in higher education circles, future employment, and especially research and development in a host of careers from medicine to engineering to technology innovation to consumer markets… probably the foundation of future success in our whole economy.

Review the Literature on Creativity in Education

Are you interested in joining the bandwagon of creativity education advocates? First, review my other three articles and absorb the thoughts of some of our greatest educational innovators. Go to the following links:

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Inspiration from… Who Else? Adobe!

Next, take look at the recent research of Adobe, Inc., posted on the company website: http://www.adobe.com/education/creativity-in-education.html. Gathering data by polling educated professionals (2012), educators and parents (2013), and hiring managers (2014), the crucial role of creativity in education was illustrated.

Based on a survey taken in early 2013, Adobe published the following findings:

  • Parents and educators are strongly aligned in their concerns and desires for the educational system.
  • The education system is stifling creativity; a transformative change is needed.
  • The demand for creativity and creative thinking is increasing and will fuel economies in the future, yet students are less prepared to become innovative thinkers of tomorrow.

According to Adobe, the top two reasons educators struggle to incorporate creativity into the classroom in the United States are lack of resources (56% of the survey responses) and the current education system doesn’t value creativity (54%).

In addition, Adobe reported that the top 3 most important steps to promote and foster creativity in education (in the U.S.) are the following:

  • Provide tools and training that enable educators to teach creativity.
  • Make creativity something that is integral to the curriculum.
  • Reduce mandates that hinder creativity.

In another study sponsored by Adobe (2012), several key headlines were released:

  • 57% of college-educated professionals believe creativity is a learned skill that can be learned in their career, while 65% believe it is a personality trait that is innate.
  • 88% agree creativity should be built into education curriculums and 72% agree they were more focused on subject matter than creative thinking in school.
  • 85% agree creative thinking is critical for problem solving in their career, but nearly one-third (32%) do not feel comfortable thinking creatively at work.

Finally, from July through August 2014, Adobe sampled HR administrators’ attitudes and beliefs about the skills required for success in the workplace of tomorrow. In its report “Seeking Creative Candidates: Hiring for the Future,” Adobe summarized with the following:

  • 75% of hiring managers believe creativity is required for economic growth and valuable to society (85%), but only 51% think businesses grasp the importance of creativity.
  • Problem solving (51%) and creativity (47%) have gained the most value in driving salary increases in the last five years.
  • 75% of hiring managers agree the job market will change significantly in the next five years. Tech-savvy (88%), the ability to communicate through digital and visual media (82%), and creativity (76%) are cited as becoming essential skills.
  • Hiring managers indicate that problem solving skills and critical thinking (58%) and creativity innovation (41%) will be among the most “in-demand” skills over the next 12 months, along with technical/specialist skills (42%).
  • 94% agree creativity is key when evaluating candidates and prefer those with creative skills over conventional skills by more than five to one.

creative-cubes-1509571My next blog on the subject of creativity in education will explore additional resources, including new websites and books on the subjects of innovation, ingenuity, originality, and self-expression released over the last several years.

Please feel free to comment. More to follow…

“The uncreative mind can spot wrong answers, but it takes a very creative mind to spot wrong questions.” – Anthony Jay

PKF

© 2015 Paul K. Fox

52 Creative Tips to “Supercharge” the School Musical

Building Student and Community Support and Appreciation of Theater

Several “Tricks of the Trade” that Have Worked for the Upper St. Clair High School Spring Musical in Pittsburgh, PA. Adaptation of my 1992 article published in PMEA News, the state journal of the Pennsylvania Music Educators Association.

GOALS OF THE BLOG: Food for Thought!
  1. Brainstorm “tried and true” techniques that build support for the school musical.
  2. Share shortcuts for adding pizzazz to your PR – better ways to market your show.
  3. Generate discussion and collaborate on ideas… everything from student recruitment to ticket sales.
INTRODUCTION: Let’s examine “WHO and WHY” before “HOW and WHAT”

Multiple-choice question (choose your best guess):

Primarily, for what group of people do you sponsor a musical production?

A) Music students already enrolled in the choral and instrumental classes (and if you have them, drama/dance courses), who are more qualified and deserve the musical as a “reward” for their hard work and loyalty to the Fine Arts program.

Supercharge 1 dancers2B) A small core of the most talented students from the music program, probably those who have studied voice, drama, instruments and/or movement privately outside the school, participated in Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera (CLO) Mini Stars, CLO Academy, or other local professional-caliber performing arts school, amateur theater, dance studios, etc. – the “cream of the crop” – many of whom will continue in theater or music as a career, but will achieve a higher degree of professionalism in performance, and thereby help the musical gain prestige and respect – not a “typical high school show!”

C) The general student body of non-music majors, e.g. a “class play,” which may help to draw some of them into the music program in the future (recruitment), while placing no emphasis on it for the students currently enrolled in music classes since they already have public venues for their self-expression.

D) Members of the community (parents, past drama alumni, amateur performers) alongside the students to share their more advanced skills and provide a higher level of performance and “taste” of realism, while filling the more difficult parts on stage, in the pit, and backstage – in short, building a support base community members by direct participation

E) All of the above with some limitation in using adults as actors

PHILOSOPHY: Sharing a Few Ground Rules for Improving Your Productions
  • Nonlinear problem solving – There are no “right” answers in this business, only ideas.
  • “One size does not fit all!”
  • No one uses “all of this” at one time.
  • Supercharge 1 levels1Focus on your needs and prioritize.
  • Take slow “baby-steps” towards trying a few new things every year, and discard any that do not work!
  • Maintain (and share) YOUR secrets.

Two approaches that drive Upper St. Clair musicals: “bigger is better” and “throw out the rule book!”

SUPER TIPS: Creativity, Marketing, and Professionalism

The following 52 ideas are submitted for your consideration (and adaptation), under the categories of:

  • Encouragement of Larger Numbers of Student Participants (#1-11)
  • Student Leadership and Enrichment Activities (#12-20)
  • Involvement of the Parents and Community (#21-28)
  • Professionalism and Quality Productions (#29-34)
  • Real Promotion of the Show (#35-52)
  1. Supercharge 1 levels3Select a show that allows for large numbers in the cast (e.g. Music Man, Fiddler on the Roof, etc.). Many schools select a maximum of 30-40 cast members, which can severely limit the size and scope of the production as well as the audience. In a few scenes, try to stage bigger groups (up to 100-150).
  2. Larger casts place greater demands on the staging director. Be creative in your blocking. Use the middle and side aisles, and build multi-level sets. (A two story set can support upwards of 150 singers for the “Iowa Stubborn” selection in Music Man! A second floor loft would be perfect for Oklahoma!)
  3. Bring the dramatic action on stage closer to the audience by constructing runways, pit ramps or other stage extensions. This also allows for staging a larger cast.
  4. A simpler solution to open up the space and add levels might be to construct a dozen large crates or benches. A low budget production could camouflage band risers.
  5. Supercharge 4 set projection31Adapt several of the song lyrics in the show for adding large choruses. (“Eloquence” from Hello Dolly, for example, can be expanded to have the entire cast enter and interact with the leads.)
  6. For even more color, choreograph these “encores” with a small ensemble of skilled dancers.
  7. Feel free to have the chorus sing several of the leads’ solo selections during the curtain calls.
  8. Be daring! Display your school’s (full size) marching band parading down the aisles for one scene in Music Man! Or use students in the 6th-8th Grade Chorus to sing “Food Glorious Food” in the opening scene of Oliver!
  9. Actively recruit students to try-out for the musical. Secure help from other school staff. For example, ask the football coach to mention the auditions to his players. Nothing will be more flashy (as well as hysterical) than a chorus line of football stars on the front thrust in Hello Dolly!
  10. Do not place limitations on student participation in the spring musical. Some school programs require the prerequisite of enrollment in choral or instrumental classes. The best recruitment of “outside” students to the Music Department may be their involvement and brief “taste” of a musical.
  11. Supercharge 4 south pacific scene1Offer pre-audition rehearsals on the required music, and/or simplify the try-out procedure as much as possible as to not “scare away” less confident students. Since the musical is geared for the entire student body (some of whom do not sing or act on a regular basis), make the try-outs a positive experience for all! Give the students a choice of songs and/or readings, as well as specifics on how to take an audition.
  12. Adopt an active and expanded Student Staff. The goal of quality education is to encourage students towards self-realization. In other words, the show should be “student run” – although selected, taught, and guided by adults. For example, once the scene changes have been rehearsed, the Student Stage Manager should actually call the cues.
  13. Persuade students who plan to major in communications, TV/radio, or theatre to join the student staff. Also, “get the word out” to other students who are not singers or instrumentalists that you have openings for carpenters (set construction), artists (painting), writers (publicity), seamstresses (costumes), etc.
  14. Develop comprehensive job descriptions for each student leadership position: Student Director, Producer, Rehearsal Assistant, Stage Manager, Crew Head, etc. Assign an adult sponsor for overall supervision of each area.
  15. Hold weekly student staff meetings, with student department reports, idea brainstorming, problem solving, and discussions on group morale. Get the students actively involved in the day-to-day operations of publicity, ticket sales, production schedules, etc.
  16. Supercharge 1 dancers3At all practices, Rehearsal Assistants should be placed at every exit (stage left, stage right, pit left, pit right, etc.), and should maintain script cues and warnings in order to call the actors and direct placement of props and sets.
  17. Present a leadership or motivational workshop for the entire company or the student staff alone. Two to three hour sessions are available on time management, teamwork, communications, personal initiative and leadership. Excellent clinicians in this area include Bill Galvin, Michael Kumer, Tim Lautzenheiser, etc.
  18. Announce a weekly S.M.I.L.E. award (“students most interested in leading effectively”) or other special recognition to spotlight extra achievement of individuals in the musical company. Display the winners (photograph and biographical information) on a public bulletin board.
  19. Reward the student cast and crews by sponsoring an all-night (“lock-in”) company party at the school or local restaurant after the final performance. This could turn out to be real incentive for future participation in the shows – a dance, late-night banquet, awards ceremony, swim party, bowling tournament, or a combination of all of these activities. Parents also appreciate a well chaperoned final celebration, instead of (in some cases) totally unsupervised house-to-house parties sponsored by individual students.
  20. Provide other perks for students. Plan field-trips around the community. Advertise the show by singing several selections at a local Women’s Club meeting or Rotary Club breakfast. Take the leads to the local TV/radio talk show, providing an audience for that thirty second “plug” of your show on the airwaves. Or sponsor an in-school theater production clinic (e.g. a make-up application session, underwritten by a local cosmetic firm).
  21. Try to fill your adult staff positions with school staff: shop, art, and English teachers, etc. Who is more knowledgeable and supportive of the students? You can encourage the integration of drama subjects in their curricula: scenery painting (art), costume design (home economics), set construction (wood shop), publicity (journalism/English), etc.
  22. Supercharge 3 costume angels1Establish a parent volunteer grouptheatre angels—to support the students in working on the production crews (costumes, painting, set construction, etc.). Grant the Angels special privileges (early ticket pre-sale) and “Honorary Thespian” status.
  23. Have the Angels man your box office to offer the public regular and varied hours for ticket sales.
  24. Utilize parents to set-up and supervise study halls for those long staging rehearsals. Set aside one room for absolute quiet and a separate waiting area for group study and socialization.
  25. Because of the large cast size, post hall monitors (parents) to assist during the night performances of the show (first aid, distribution of props, overall supervision, etc.).
  26. Hold sign-ups for the Angels during Open House or work through local PTA.
  27. On Saturdays, sponsor staff “cover dish” luncheons to give everyone the chance to interact socially.
  28. Invite a popular school administrator, public official, local actor, or other celebrity to narrate or assist in the show (e.g. the voice in How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying).
  29. Set out to achieve the illusion of realism in the scenery. Utilize a large student and adult crew of carpenters and build substantial backdrops, wagons, and book pieces to support your larger cast.
  30. Supercharge 1 levels5Rent professional set drawings from theatrical houses (e.g. New Wilmington, PA firm Sceno Graphics).
  31. Ask for help from local professional theater companies (hand-me-down sets, props, or just advice).
  32. Always seek professionalism from the students on the stage. Are all of the actors consistently in character? Adolescents have short attention spans, and as a large chorus, must be coached in displaying real enthusiasm, self-discipline, and accurate characterizations one hundred percent of the time! Nothing is worse than an inanimate or lackluster chorus, talking on or backstage, or other noises that detract from the dramatic action portrayed by the leads.
  33. Be imaginative with special effects! Melt a witch (Wizard of Oz) using a trap door and smoke effects. Exaggerate their sizes—a ten foot Fruma Sarah in Fiddler on the Roof can be created by putting your lightest girl on the shoulders of an athletic boy; use a ladder on wheels to present a 14 foot giant (Ghost of Xmas Present) in Scrooge—all hidden by the costume.
  34. Supercharge 4 melting witchSet a fast pace for the show. Avoid those periods of inertia, especially the Act II “doldrums!” Always execute smooth set changes and transitions. Never give the audience time to talk or lose their concentration.
  35. Use theater P.R. firms (e.g. Pioneer Drama Service) to buy official logos, posters, buttons and publicity packets.
  36. Design an official show t-shirt and button. Announce musical t-shirt days and give out random cash prizes to students who remember to wear their t-shirt and serve as a walking billboard!
  37. Sponsor a musical trivia contest. Create a crossword puzzle and publish it in the PTA newsletter.
  38. Type-set and distribute a special musical issue of the school newspaper (e.g. an “Anatevka Times” for Fiddler on the Roof) in order to devote space on the background of the play, local historical “splash-backs” in the time period of the musical, and a picture album of the cast and crews.
  39. Insert a theater flyer in the school district or PTA newsletter mailed home to residents. Print informative articles about the play (Hammerstein anecdotes for South Pacific or Oklahoma, etc.)
  40. Sponsor an elementary school art contest (e.g. draw your Little Orphan Annie).
  41. Supercharge 4 special effect smokeDevelop a partnership with your local merchants. Print pizza box advertisements, restaurant place mats, etc. Place messages on mall marquees, store magnetic signs, and in employee newsletters. In exchange for local business help in promoting your show, sponsor a special “employee discount” on tickets.
  42. Make clever P.A. announcements using the leads and adaptations of the script.
  43. Plan a pre-sale ticket lottery to determine the order students in the cast and crews can go to the box office to purchase their reserve seat admissions. This generates excitement and actually helps to sell additional tickets!
  44. Sponsor a school staff appreciation breakfast (donuts and coffee) thanking everyone for their support of the musical. At the breakfast, pass out ticket vouchers (two complimentary tickets) to the teachers.
  45. Help formulate creative school cafeteria menus using musical themes (e.g. “Wicked Witch” stew, “Jiggerbug Juice,” and “Toto’s Favorite Burgers”).
  46. Supercharge 4 makeup bloody mary1Schedule an in-school theatre education assembly for younger students. Give a short synopsis of the musical and demonstrate several scene changes, technical effects and lighting, application of character make-up, and several dances or songs from the current show (make sure you retain the rights to do a segment of the musical!).
  47. After the final dress rehearsal, sponsor a picture taking session for the parents. Actors can pose in costume and in front of the finished sets. The taking of photographs or audio/visual recording during the show is illegal!
  48. Construct an attractive hall display of cast and crew photographs, “Music In Our Schools Month” materials, etc. Always include a photographic history of the evolution of sets in construction, and the student names in the company.
  49. Designate one performance as children’s night. Offer it one hour earlier (on a school night), and provide a special discount for children ages 12 and under, as well as backstage tours of the scenery, spotlights, soundboard, costume room, autographs from the leads, etc.
  50. Dedicate each performance of the show to a special adult contributor to the school music and theatre program. Invite the Supercharge 4 special effect flyinghonored guest to the pre-show cast meeting, and send him/her several free tickets. Announce the dedication on the P.A. before the Overture, and post it on the hall display in the auditorium lobby.
  51. Find a P.R. “hook” – something that might interest the media – such as sponsoring Annie “dog auditions” or twins casted in dual roles. Send a new press release to the media every two weeks.
  52. Print the musical performance dates on the computerized student report cards and school district payroll checks. Use inter-office mail to send personal invitations to all of the teachers. Be sure to list the names of the cast – teachers will be interested in coming up to see their former students.
SUMMARY: Concepts to Consider—BUILD is the Operative Word!
  • Involvement of greater numbers of students and parents will build audiences and community support.
  • Presentation of a quality production with student leadership and supplemental activities will build student enthusiasm and appreciation of the inherent “value” of theatre in school.
  • Finding the confidence to take risks and build on your own creativity—go ahead and adapt the score, script, set designs and staging to utilize your schools’ resources.
  • The allocation of ample time to publicity and promotional activities will build community awareness, attendance and EXCITEMENT in support of the show!
SAMPLE RESOURCES: Companies, Books, Sites

PKF

© 2015 and 2020 Paul K. Fox

Arts Advocacy – Everyone’s Job!

“If it is to be, it is up to me.” – William H. Johnsen

Can you imagine if there was only enough money in the education budget for one subject to be taught in school? What would it be?

The education of the “whole child” to acquire 21st Century learning skills, with an emphasis on the “Four C’s” – Creativity, Critical thinking, Communications, and Collaboration – is essential to the success of every child, and paramount for the future continuation of arts and creative self-expression throughout the world. This mandates equal-access to quality learning of rigorous curricula, offered to all students enrolled in courses of Fine and Performing Arts, English, Math, Science, World Language, Social Studies, and Physical Education.

4cs-venn

(For an interesting set of articles detailing the above Venn diagram on the four C’s of 21st Century learning skills, see Margo Tripsa’s “Techie Teachers’ Tricks,” beginning with http://techieteacherstricks.com/2013/06/30/the-4-cs-critical-thinking/.)

Why the Arts?

An education in the arts benefits society because students of music, art, dance, and drama gain powerful tools for:

  • Understanding human experiences, both past and present;
  • Teamwork and collaboration;
  • Making decisions creatively when no prescribed answers exist;
  • Learning to adapt to and respect others’ (diverse) ways of thinking, working, and expressing themselves;
  • Learning problem recognition and problem solving, involving expressive, analytical, and developmental tools to every human situation (that is why we speak, for example, of the “art” of teaching or the “art” of politics);
  • Understanding the influence of the arts and their power to create and reflect cultures, the impact of design on our daily life, and in the interdependence of work in the arts with the broader worlds of ideas and action;
  • Developing the essential senses of sight, hearing, smell, taste, touch, and kinesthetics as intellectual, emotional, physical, creative, and expressive acts;
  • Analyzing nonverbal communication and making informed judgments about cultural products and issues;
  • Communicating effectively.

The “Whole Child” Approach to Education

All of us should already be on board promoting the concepts of “whole child” education in the public schools:

“The demands of the 21st century require a new approach to education to fully prepare students for college, career, and citizenship. Research, practice, and common sense confirm that a whole child approach to education will develop and prepare students for the challenges and opportunities of today and tomorrow by addressing students’ comprehensive needs through the shared responsibility of students, families, schools, and communities.” – ASCD Whole Child Education Initiative http://www.wholechildeducation.org/about/

wholechild-left

Launched in 2007, ASCD’s Whole Child Initiative was an effort to “change the conversation about education from a focus on narrowly defined academic achievement to one that promotes the long term development and success of children.”

My favorite tenets of “whole child” education are the following principles:

  • Each student has access to personalized learning…
  • Each student is actively engaged in learning and is connected to the school and broader community.
  • Each student is challenged academically…

Sounds a lot like the need for an education in the arts, right?

Need More Rationale?

21stcentury

The Partnership for 21st Century (P21) movement (see www.apple.com/education/docs/Apple-P21Framework.pdf) affirmed what prospective employees are seeking from graduates and others entering the work force –  21st Century learning skills, as well as an authentic work experience and achievement in and appreciation of the values of focus/attention, goal setting, perseverance, self-discipline, and cooperation. Would it surprise you that at every job interview in my life, I was never asked for the results of my SAT scores? For blue-collar and professional jobs alike, credentials/certification and past work/school history are important, but more than anything else, managers and “the big boss” want to know a job applicant’s record of absenteeism and tardiness, and if the candidate can take instruction, solve problems, innovate, communicate, and work well with others.

Where else but in the arts can students receive this exposure to and opportunities to explore and practice the work-related skills of communications and collaboration, and the thinking skills of critical thinking, problem solving, and creativity? You owe it to yourself to check out this more detailed layout:  P21 Arts Map.

If you have not viewed Sir Ken Robinson’s presentation of creativity in education, stop everything right now and go to one of these links:

Read my main page (above) for additional resources on Creativity in Education – Are We Ready for a New Paradigm Shift?

Also, it is worth perusing these sites:

How can you argue with all of this research?

Get Involved!

I find it amusing (albeit appropriate) that on my iPhone, Siri first translated “arts advocacy” as “arts have a good seat.”

There is a great need for arts advocates, and that means absolutely everybody… retired educators, current teachers, future/prospective employees of schools, students, parents, relatives of children attending school, and taxpayers who don’t have anyone enrolled in the public, private, or charter schools.

Politics is a numbers game. Your state legislators need to know that you care about education and the arts as priorities – justifying and finding more revenue and resources for music and art education. In addition, with all of the focus on high-stakes standardized tests and the Common Core (and very limiting) subjects, now more than ever, we all need to reach out to our elected officials and make our voices heard (above all of the din!). Yes, the arts do make a difference, but no one will know that unless you tell the decision-makers!

pmea

Now, here’s something you can do right now! If you reside in Pennsylvania, go to the advocacy section of the Pennsylvania Music Educators Association website: http://www.pmea.net/specialty-areas/advocacy/. If you need to find your particular legislator to send the letter/e-mail, first visit this website: http://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/legis/home/findyourlegislator/. If you feel strongly about the importance of arts education, your letter (the sample posted or something like it) should urge our elected officials to:

  1. Increase the basic education subsidy.
  2. Enact a fair funding formula.
  3. Restore the Pennsylvania Department of Education Arts Education Liaison for the curricular areas of music, visual art, theater, dance, and media arts.

(This process can be duplicated in a similar manner for every state in the union. Music and art programs are being cut daily!)

Don’t put this off! When was the last time you devoted a little time to express your opinion directly to your state representative? Didn’t we elect and charge them with the responsibility to do what is right for our educational programs and children? Music and art education needs your help NOW!

PKF

© 2015 Paul K. Fox

Creative Teaching & Teaching Creativity – PART III – Creative Techniques

Reprinted from the Winter 2015 issue of the Pennsylvania Music Educators Association music teachers’ state journal of PMEA News.

“The creative is the place where no one else has ever been. You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. What you’ll discover will be wonderful. What you’ll discover is yourself.” — Alan Alda

Warm-up

“Creative thinking” riddle of the month:

An ordinary American citizen, with no passport, visits over thirty foreign countries in one day. He is welcomed in each country, and leaves of his own accord. How is this possible? (Answer printed at the bottom on this article.)

The final segment of this three-part series for all educators addresses many of the “how-to” aspects of using imaginative approaches to make learning more interesting and effective (teaching creatively) and strategies of teaching that are intended to develop students’ creative thinking or behavior (teaching for creativity).

25 Ways to Develop Creativity

Probably one of the best resources I found in my research on creativity is the book How to Develop Student Creativity by Robert J. Sternberg and Wendy M. Williams (ASCD 1996). Sternberg and Williams provide a detailed guide with personal experiences on instructional techniques in creativity, including how to choose creative environments, expose students to creative role models, identify and surmount obstacles to creativity, direct students to question assumptions, generate new ideas, and promote self-responsibility.

Steinberg and Williams refer to “the investment theory of creativity,” which asserts that “creative thinkers are like good investors – they buy low and sell high. Whereas investors do so in the world of finance, creative people do so in the world of ideas by taking a unique, typically undervalued idea, and convincing other people of its worth.”

Their 25 tips “in a nutshell” are:

  1. Modeling Creativity
  2. Building Self-Efficacy
  3. Questioning Assumptions
  4. Defining and Redefining Problems
  5. Encouraging Idea Generation
  6. Cross-Fertilizing Ideas
  7. Allowing Time for Creative Thinking
  8. Instructing and Assessing Creativity
  9. Rewarding Creative Ideas and Products
  10. Encouraging Sensible Risks
  11. Tolerating Ambiguity
  12. Allowing Mistakes
  13. Identifying and Surmounting Obstacles
  14. Teaching Self-Responsibility
  15. Promoting Self-Regulation
  16. Delaying Gratification
  17. Using Profiles of Creative People
  18. Encouraging Creative Collaboration
  19. Imagining Other Viewpoints
  20. Recognizing Environmental Fit
  21. Finding Excitement
  22. Seeking Stimulating Environments
  23. Playing to Strengths
  24. Growing Creatively
  25. Proselytizing for Creativity

Hands-on Ideas for Building Creative Learning

In Teaching Creatively and Teaching for Creativity, presented by the British Council (Eltec/Jordan), United Kingdom’s international organization for cultural relations and educational opportunities, the task for teaching “for creativity” is defined as:

  • Encouraging – Highly creative people are driven by strong belief in their abilities and a positive self-image.
  • Identifying – Creative achievement is driven by “a person’s love of a particular instrument, for the feel of the material, and for the excitement of a style of work that catch the imagination.” We must help students find their creative strengths
  • Fostering – “Creativity draws from many ordinary abilities and skills rather than one special gift or talent.” Therefore, “the development of many common capacities and sensitivities can help to foster creativity.”

“Creativity itself is a mode of learning,” a combination of three features:

  1. It involves a thoughtful playfulness – learning through experimental ‘play.’ It is serious play conjuring up, exploring and developing possibilities and then critically evaluating and testing them.
  2. It involves a special flexibility in which there may be a conscious attempt to challenge the assumptions and preconceptions of the self – an unusual activity in which there is an active effort to unlearn in order to learn afresh.
  3. This process is driven by the find, introduce, construct or reconstruct something new. It seeks actively to expand the possibilities of any situation. In this sense the learning of creative thoughts is not neutral; it has a bias towards the innovative.

The British Council proposes many tips for building creative learning:

  • Start simply, and build progressively.
  • Find easy ways in to creative learning. Start with the classroom environment. Move on to how pupils and staff use speech and questions. Keep it manageable, keep the focus tight. Show and share tangible changes. This will develop confidence to go further.
  • Be a ‘creative advocate.’ Create a presentation or materials that you can use both within your school to convince colleagues and out of school. This will help to build a whole-school ethos around creativity.
  • Focus on one area at a time, for example, in developing more creative learning in math, and use this to raise awareness and encourage staff to think about applications in other subject areas and spaces in the school.
  • Organize an enquiring minds-type project where pupils have an opportunity to negotiate the aim of the project and are instrumental in designing how it is carried out (resource: enquiringminds.org.uk).
  • Set-up an inventor’s club after school.
  • Transform one small area in the school as a space designed for creativity and imagination.
  • Make sure that the pupils have some ownership of the project.

Return to the “Best of Bonk”

More hands-on tools and ideas can be found at the aforementioned website of Indiana University of Bloomington Professor Dr. Curtis Bonk’s (but, let me warn you, you can truly get lost perusing all of his class materials for the course Instructional Strategies for Thinking, Collaboration, and Motivation): http://www.indiana.edu/~bobweb/r546/modules/creativity/bob_handouts.html. He is very generous in sharing his materials. It is worth exploring his class notes and lecture presentations (PowerPoint) posted at the “Best of Bonk” website.

Here are a few of my favorite excerpts from his handouts:

Ten+ Creative Thinking Ideas

  1. Brainstorming: More ideas/wilder the better, no evaluation, combo to improve (examples – How to study better? How to raise test scores? What are better teaching techniques)
  2. Reverse Brainstorming (examples – How to study worse? How to lower test scores? What are worst teaching techniques)
  3. Creative Writing and Story Telling (examples – object obituaries, tell a tall tale, cartoons, jokes/quips, story starters, wrap-a-round’s, forced responses, newsletters, object talking, etc.)
  4. Idea-Spurring Questions, Checklists, or Cards (e.g., Osborn’s SCAMPER method): How do we substitute, combine, adapt, modify/max-min put to other uses, eliminate, reverse/rearrange?
  5. Six hats (wear different color hats for different types of thinking)
  6. Free Writing/Wet Inking (write without lifting pen for 3-5 minutes on, e.g., best teacher ever had)
  7. Checkerboarding, Attribute Listing, Morphological Synthesis (analyze or combine 2 key variables/components in grid/matrix; e.g., CT & CR)
  8. Analogies, Metaphorical Thinking, Synectics, or Forced Associations (This school is like a ____; An good presenter is like a ____?)
  9. Semantic Webbing/Chaining/Linking/Mapping of Ideas, Free Association Activities (What is a greenhouse effect? What is a good curriculum? What is effective teaching?)
  10. Simulations and Role Plays (Computer simulations, act out plays or literature, simulated games or performance)
  11. Other techniques
  • The Second Best Answer, What else, > 1 Right Answer (What else applies)
  • Elaboration/Explanation (Another reason is)
  • Diaries, Personal Journals (When in the field, I want to jot down…)
  • Just Suppose/What If Exercises (What if we had cooperative exams?)
  • Creative Dramatics/Improvisation (imagine hearing, seeing, feeling)

Bonk provides an exhaustive set of creative thinking techniques, including activities in visual thinking, idea listing, writing, group interactions, and process-product oriented.

More Resources

Too comprehensive to list here, but an excellent summary, the TeachThought “101 Ways for Teachers To Be More Creative” at http://www.teachthought.com/teaching/101-ways-for-teachers-to-be-more-creative, posts ideas for finding creative inspiration, capitalizing on the creative spark, inspiring students, the creative classroom, creative activities, sharing and collaborating, and educate yourself.

Check out the Iowa State University Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching website section entitled “Techniques for Creative Teaching” at http://www.celt.iastate.edu/creativity/techniques.html!

On the Friendship Circle blog, “How to Teach Creative Thinking to Concrete Thinkers” shares ten ideas from a parent’s perspective at http://www.friendshipcircle.org/blog/2013/05/02/how-to-teach-creative-thinking-to-concrete-thinkers.

Numerous music education specific sources are available. One of my favorites, Teaching Music Creatively by Pam Burnard and Regina Murphy (Routledge 2013), offers a comprehensive approach in the delivery of a creative music curriculum. Key topics included:

  • Creative teaching, and what it means to teach creatively;
  • Composition, listening and notation;
  • Spontaneous music-making;
  • Group music and performance;
  • The use of multimedia;
  • Integration of music into the wider curriculum;
  • Musical play;
  • Cultural diversity;
  • Assessment and planning.

Finally, from my favorite issue of the ASCD Educational Leadership, February 2013 “Creativity Now,” the starting point for much of the research for this three-part series, I recommend reading Danah Henriksen and Punya Mishra’s article “Learning from Creative Teachers,” who provide insight and practical applications from “outstanding teachers who share how they teach creatively in an age of scripted lessons and accountability.” You can find the text online at (http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/feb13/vol70/num05/Learning-from-Creative-Teachers.aspx). They discuss these areas:

  1. Connect Your Interests with Your Teaching
  2. Link Lessons to Real-World Learning
  3. Cultivate a Creative Mind-Set
  4. Value Collaboration
  5. Take Intellectual Risks

Arrival of the New National Music Standards!

No discussion on creativity would be complete without embracing our national music standards. The National Coalition for Core Arts Standards launched the Core Arts Standards on June 4, 2014 after extensive public review. You are urged to go to their new “official” website http://www.nationalartsstandards.org/. The National Core Arts Standards are organized into four processes – Creating, Performing/Presenting/Producing, Responding, and Connecting – in order to develop a philosophical foundation and lifelong goals towards artistic literacy. The three common anchor standards include the following.

Students will:

  1. Generate and conceptualize artistic ideas and work.
  2. Organize and develop artistic ideas and work.
  3. Refine and complete artistic work.

Are we intentionally doing these in our music classrooms?

Creativity vs. the Common Core? and Final Thoughts for the Future

Creativity is one of the 21st Century learning skills, and many educational visionaries declare it to be a one of the most essential for the students’ future success in career and personal life. Bloom’s Taxonomy and Depth of Knowledge charts put creating at the top level of higher-order thinking. In an article “Creativity on the Brink” (2013), Alane Starko connects creativity to deep understanding: “If we want students to master the content, they must do something with it beyond simple repetition. They must use it in meaningful ways and make it their own.” Catapult Learning sums this up best (see http://www.catapultlearning.com/creativity-and-the-common-core/). “As teachers transition towards the Common Core Standards, they are certainly being asked to attend to each of the aspects expressed through creativity: increased rigor and higher-order thinking, the application and transfer of knowledge, and the ability to communicate effectively through 21st century technology tools.”

Our music technology colleague Jim Frankel reminds us to define our “personal mission” in music education, to realize how important it is to remain “student-centered,” and that our kids “want to create content in the same medium in which they consume it.”

He adds, we should be focused on students “wanting to make ‘cool’ music/projects/websites/whatever.”

What better way to teach creatively and “teach for creativity” than to use the magic of music?

What are your thoughts?

Answer to the creative thinking riddle: The man is a mail courier who delivers packages to 30 foreign embassies in the United States. The land of an embassy belongs to that country of that embassy. [Attributed to Visual Thinking Puzzles by Michael A. DiSpezio (Sterling 1988)]

For a list of additional resources for further research, please go to the bottom of my main page on creativity at this WordPress site: Creativity in Education – Are We Ready for a New Paradigm Shift?

PKF

© 2015 Paul K. Fox

 

Creative Teaching & Teaching Creativity – Part II – Definitions and Rationale

“I think the single most potent school reform goal would be to place the highest priority on individual creative engagement, and to shape schooling to develop the habits of mind that constitute creative engagement.” – Eric Booth

Warm-up/Review/Refresh

How many rectangles do you see below?

rectangles

What is your initial response? If you said sixteen or seventeen, sorry! You are not even close! The real number is more than 50! (See the exact answer at the end of the article.)

According to Robina Shaheen in her article “Creativity and Education” (Creative Education, Volume 1, No. 3, 2010), interest in creativity historically goes back to Plato’s age and is found in the Greek, Judaic, Christian, and Muslim traditions. She said that a sudden “frenzied” emphasis for the renewal of inventiveness and creativeness in schools (especially in the sciences) came about with the launch of “Sputnik 1” satellite by the Soviet Union in 1957. The supposed failure of engineers from Europe, USA, and other Western countries was attributed to their lack of creativity, which led to the adoption of the National Defense Education Act to accept the concept as important for “prosperity…survival of society.” Since then, there have been several additional “waves of creativity” in education.

From numerous educational visionaries, we have more recently heard the essential need for 21st Century learning skills, including creativity, critical thinking, collaboration, and communications, and yet our political focus continues to be on high-stakes standardized testing and the ‘common core’ (and very limiting) subjects.

Definitions of Creativity

Numerous scholars, scientists, and educational leaders have provided their perspective on the meaning of creativity:

  • Creativity is defined as the tendency to generate or recognize ideas, alternatives, or possibilities that may be useful in solving problems, communicating with others, and entertaining ourselves and others (from Human Motivation, 3rd ed., by Robert E. Franken)
  • Creative refers to novel products of value, as in “The airplane was a creative invention.” Creative also refers to the person who produces the work, as in, “Picasso was creative.” Creativity, then, refers both to the capacity to produce such works, as in “How can we foster our employees’ creativity?” and to the activity of generating such products, as in “Creativity requires hard work”(from Creativity – Beyond the Myth of Genius by Robert W. Weisberg).
  • Creativity is generating new ideas and concepts, or making connections between ideas where none previously existed (from SmartStorming by Mitchell Rigie and Keith Harmeyer).
  • Creativity is the ability to find new solutions to a problem or new modes of expression; thus it brings into existence something new to the individual and to the culture (from Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Dr. Betty Edwards).

Creativity According to Sir Ken

“Creativity is the process of having original ideas that have value.”

“Think of creativity as applied imagination.”

The above quotes are from Sir Ken Robinson, internationally recognized leader in the development of education and creativity, famous for his 2006 and 2010 talks at the prestigious TED Conference, estimated to have been seen by more than 200 million people.

Sir Ken Robinson champions a radical rethink of our school systems, to cultivate creativity, and acknowledge multiple types of intelligence. He has been known to say, “We are educating people out of their creativity,” and “Creativity is now as important in education as literacy, and we should teach it with the same status.”

Sir Ken embraces the written works of Howard Gardner (Multiple Intelligences), Robert Steinberg’s three intelligences (analytical, creative, and practical), and Robert Cooper’s “heart brain” and “gut brain.” His own “three features of intelligence” are that they are “diverse, dynamic, and distinctive.”

Through his numerous lectures and online videos, Sir Ken has tried to dispel a few myths on creativity:

  1. Only a few people are really creative. “Everybody has tremendous creative capacities.”
  2. Creativity is for the arts only. “Creativity is a function of everything we do. Education for creativity is about the whole curriculum, not just part of it.”
  3. Creativity is just about letting yourself go. “No, creativity is a disciplined process that requires skill, knowledge, and control, as well as imagination and inspiration.”

In a recent TEDTALKS video on YouTube, he defines three principles crucial for the human mind to flourish, but seem to be currently contradicted by the culture of education:

  • Diversity vs. conformity
  • Curiosity vs. compliance
  • Creativity vs. standardization

See http://www.ted.com/talks/ken_robinson_how_to_escape_education_s_death_valley.html for one of his lectures. If you like his presentations, you will love Sir Ken’s two books: Out of Our Mind – Learning to Be Creative, and The Element – How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything.

Eric Booth’s Creative Habits of Mind

Eric Booth, a teacher at the Kennedy Center, Stanford University, New York University and the Lincoln Center Institute, and founding editor of the Teaching Artist Journal, maintains that the arts are more than subject matter and disciplines. They serve as modes of cognition that are necessary for every content area and for success in life.

Centering on the essential skills of brainstorming, divergent thinking, metaphoric thinking, flexible thinking, multisensory engagement, and empathy, the following “habits of mind” according to Eric Booth, are key processes, actions, and attitudes activated when we invest ourselves in the flow of creating:

  1. Generating multiple ideas/solutions
  2. Sustaining an inner atmosphere of exploration
  3. Using one’s own voice
  4. Trusting one’s own judgments
  5. Formulating good questions and problems
  6. Improvising
  7. Finding humor
  8. Crafting
  9. Making choices based on a variety of criteria
  10. Inquiring skillfully
  11. Persisting
  12. Self-assessing
  13. Reflecting metacognitively
  14. Thinking analogically
  15. Willingly suspending disbelief
  16. Observing intentionally
  17. Going back and forth between parts & wholes
  18. Trying on multiple points of view
  19. Working with others
  20. Tapping & following intrinsic motivation

He concludes with advocating for the arts and more inquiry-based learning in the schools (quoting Booth):

The “artistic process” encompasses:

  • Asking great questions and identifying good problems
  • Experimenting, while carefully attending to results
  • Cultivating a productive relationship with failure
  • Anticipating challenges and generating imaginative solutions
  • Tolerating uncertainty (even taking pleasure in ambiguity)
  • Engaging in appropriate risk-taking
  • Being resilient
  • Focusing on quality and excellence
  • Self-assessing eagerly & naturally
  • Infusing ongoing reflection into the work at hand
  • Enjoying the process and getting personal satisfaction out of it
  • Connecting to others through an expression of who you really are

Pink’s Points

To round out this provocative philosophy of teaching creativity and creative processes for their own sake, we have the highly entertaining Daniel Pink, author of three best-sellers: A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, and To Sell Is Human: the Surprising Truth About Moving Others

Daniel Pink talks about his first book on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WhKLSTBSgwI

Pink’s core argument in A Whole New Mind… is that “the era of ‘left brain’ dominance, and the Information Age that it engendered, are giving way to a new world in which ‘right brain’ qualities – inventiveness, empathy, meaning – predominate.”

Tagged as “Pink’s six senses,” he proposes the following new “aptitudes” or abilities that individuals and organizations must master in an outsourced, automated age – and should become fundamental to updating our curriculum, enduring understandings (“big ideas”), essential questions, unit planning, and lesson learning targets:

  • Design
  • Story
  • Symphony
  • Empathy
  • Play
  • Meaning

Roger von Oech

Finally, a very appropriate example of defining creative thinking as “changing contexts” is described by Roger von Oech in his book Whack on the Side of the Head: How You Can Be More Creative:

In 1792, the musicians of Franz Joseph Haydn’s orchestra were mad because the Duke had promised them a vacation, but continually had postponed it. They asked Haydn to talk to the Duke about getting some time off. Haydn thought about it, decided to let the music do the talking, and wrote the “Farewell Symphony.” The performance began with a full orchestra, but as the piece goes along, it is scored to need fewer instruments. As each musician finished his part, he blew out his candle, and left the stage. They did this, one by one, until the stage was empty. The Duke got the message and gave them a vacation.

Von Oech concludes with stating that this example illustrates “the creative mind power to transform one thing into another. By changing perspective and playing with our knowledge, we can make the ordinary extraordinary.”

More to come… Care to join the debate?

[Answer to the 4 by 4 rectangles’ puzzle at the top of the page: Remember, a rectangle can be two columns by one row or three rows by one column, etc. The total number is 100!]

Segments of this and other articles on my blog are reprinted from PMEA News, the state journal of the Pennsylvania Music Educators Association. To see more writings or the complete three-part series on creativity, please go to the following:

PKF

© 2015 Paul K. Fox

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 https://paulkfoxusc.wordpress.com/creativity-in-education-are-we-ready-for-a-new-paradigm-shift/. I have taken the liberty to extract, condense, and even add to this material.

Introduction

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.)

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

Mind Tools’ questionnaire at http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/creativity-quiz.htm 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….)

PKF

© 2015 Paul K. Fox

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