Creativity in Education

Creativity is the process of having original ideas that have value. Think of creativity as “applied imagination.” – Sir Ken Robinson

Talk is cheap! Educational research, the Partnership for 21st Century Skills movement and other leading-edge groups, company managers, HR Directors and the general employee job market have known for a long time what is best for kids and the economy… in a nutshell, the need for more exploration, teaching, and mastery of student creativity, including inquisitiveness, ingenuity, inventiveness, flexibility of thought, and inquiry-based learning! In this era standardized testing, the Common Core revolution, and relentless “teaching to the test,” are we embracing the best practices of “whole child” learning? True customization, individualization, and personalization of education dictate a change in emphasis from not relying purely on lesson targets and assessments of simple objective, one-answer-only, convergent thinking, but moving towards the more complex (and richly meaningful) higher-order, multiple-pathway, divergent thinking – greatly valued skills of analyzing, evaluating, and synthesizing.

The preparation and practice of 21st Century learning skills are essential and need to be addressed at all grade levels. Intentional and formalized teaching in creativity, originality, innovation, critical thinking, problem solving, communications, and adaptability should be a priority and focus in all curriculum and instruction.

Four years ago, as music teacher and Performing Arts curriculum leader for my school district, I was busy studying and writing curriculum for my department as well as assisting on the revision of the technology curriculum for our middle schools. A PA colleague, Karen Smith, Executive Director of PenSPRA (PA School Public Relations Association) was gracious enough to send me her perspective, based partially on her reading of Diane Ravitch’s book The Reign of Error:

“There is ample research which demonstrates American students/workers are prized the world over for their innovation and creativity. Even though we may not have the highest scores on international tests, we remain out front where it counts most – jobs! Our emphasis on performing arts training in schools is one of the areas that helps develops students/workers the world is looking for.

“Along with this, today’s employers are looking for workers who are good communicators. Most of today’s professional jobs require the employee to be able to research, create, write and present their ideas to others. Performing arts training is integral to developing these skills. (My daughter Colleen, now a sophomore acting major, was head-and-shoulders above the other students in her classes when they had oral presentations. No one wanted to be the speaker right after her!)

“As technology continues to develop and is readily accessible on everyone’s smartphone, the ability to present ideas will only become more important. Performing arts training can be used in a cross-curricular manner, as reading is, to ensure that tomorrow’s worker is as adept at communicating and presenting his/her solutions. Our world is also becoming an increasingly visual one. We are doing students a tremendous disservice if we cut or neglect performing arts education. We need more of it, not less.”

Of course, my own “hero” is Sir Ken Robinson, a true inspiration and leader in this field. His famous TED talks are “must-views” and offer the perfect start for prompting a little debate on fostering more creativity in education. If you have not seen them, please review any of the following:

A short list of creativity geniuses/educational gurus and their books are listed below. FYI, the best magazine spotlight I have ever read, the initial motivation for this research, came from the February 2013 issue “Creativity Now!” of the ASCD Educational Leadership.

This magazine encouraged me to “rehash” and share this collective “wisdom” in my three-part series written for the Pennsylvania Music Educators state journal PMEA News.

Feel free to peruse the articles below based on my personal objective to investigate five essential questions:

  1. What is creativity?
  2. How creative are you?
  3. Why is teaching creativity important?
  4. How do we teach creativity?
  5. How can we teach more creatively?

Creativity for Teachers reprinted from PMEA News:

The proposed paradigm for a more focused implementation of strategies for teaching creativity in the schools (as well as teaching more creatively) is just beginning. Much more research and work are needed. Regardless of the history, politics, and expediency of this complicated issue, it is now time to revamp our educational programs and provide more opportunities of self-direction and creative self-expression!

What are your thoughts?


© 2015 Paul K. Fox

Ronald A. Beghetto: Nurturing Creativity in the Classroom and Teaching for Creativity in the Common Core Classroom

Dr. Curtis Bonk: The World is Open – How Web Technology Is Revolutionizing Education and Adding Some TEC-VARIETY and “Best of Bonk” website

Eric Booth: The Music Teaching Artist’s Bible – Becoming a Virtuoso Educator and The Everyday Work of Art: Awakening the Extraordinary in Your Daily Life

Susan M. Brookhart: How to Create and Use Rubrics for Formative Assessment and Grading and How to Assess Higher-Order Thinking Skills in Your Classroom

Bill Daggert: The Dynamics of Work and “the Application Model and Rigor/Relevance Framework”

Howard Gardner: Five Minds for the Future and The App Generation: How Today’s Youth Navigate Identity, Intimacy, and Imagination in a Digital World

James C. Kaufman: Creativity 101 and Nurturing Creativity in the Classroom

Daniel Pink: A Whole New Mind – Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future and Drive – The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us

Sir Ken Robinson: The Element – How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything and Out of Our Minds – Learning to Be Creative

Robert & Michele Root-Bernstein: Sparks of Genius – The Thirteen Thinking Tools of the World’s Most Creative People

Robert J. Sternberg: How to Develop Student Creativity and Teaching for Wisdom, Intelligence, Creativity and Success

Roger von Oech: A Kick in the Seat of the Pants – Using Your Explorer, Artist, Judge, and Warrior to Be More Creative and A Kick in the Seat of the Pants – Using Your Explorer, Artist, Judge, and Warrior to Be More Creative

Wendy Melissa Williams: How to Develop Student Creativity and Creative Intelligence in School

One thought on “Creativity in Education

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s