It’s been awhile since I have ventured back into searches for “creativity in education” with blogging on the philosophy and practice of creative learning and creative teaching, two of the most essential needs (and deficiencies) in public school education.
After being inspired by the likes of Sir Ken Robinson (especially from his TedTalks), Ronald A. Beghetto and James C. Kaufman, Curtis Bonk, Eric Booth, Susan M. Brookhart, Susan Engel, Daniel Pink, Robert J. Sternberg and Wendy M. Williams, Robert and Michele Root-Bernstein, Roger von Oechand, Peter Webster, and many others, I periodically try to fulfill my ongoing mission of spreading the importance of fostering creativity in education, and finding research (and hands-on) material on the related subjects of innovation, inventiveness, curiosity, flexibility, adaptability, critical thinking, artistry, and self-expression.
Here is the latest installment of newly found resources for your perusal.
Creativity at Work
Linda Naiman, the founder of Creativity at Work, an international consortium of creativity and innovation experts, design thinkers, and arts-based learning practitioners, offers “trainings and workshops to help leaders and their teams develop the creativity, innovation and leadership capabilities required to adapt to change, stay competitive, improve business performance, and make a positive difference in the world. Clients include Fortune 500 companies, non-profits, educational institutions and government organizations.”
From a Creativity at Work blog, Seven Habits of Highly Creative People, the following points are outlined in homage to Stephen Covey (Oct 24, 1932 – July 16, 2012):
- Prepare the ground
- Plant seeds for creativity
- Live in the question
- Feed your brain
- Experiment and explore
- Replenish your creative stock
- Play like a child: the secret to liberating your creativity
The Creativity Crisis
I don’t know how I missed this… Bo Bronson and Ashley Merryman wrote an education article, The Creativity Crisis, for Newsweek, posted on their website on July 10, 2010. Selected excerpts:
Back in 1958, Ted Schwarzrock was an 8-year-old third grader when he became one of the “Torrance kids,” a group of nearly 400 Minneapolis children who completed a series of creativity tasks newly designed by professor E. Paul Torrance. Schwarzrock still vividly remembers the moment when a psychologist handed him a fire truck and asked, “How could you improve this toy to make it better and more fun to play with?” He recalls the psychologist being excited by his answers. In fact, the psychologist’s session notes indicate Schwarzrock rattled off 25 improvements, such as adding a removable ladder and springs to the wheels. That wasn’t the only time he impressed the scholars, who judged Schwarzrock to have “unusual visual perspective” and ‘an ability to synthesize diverse elements into meaningful products.”
Today, Schwarzrock is independently wealthy—he founded and sold three medical-products companies and was a partner in three more. His innovations in health care have been wide ranging, from a portable respiratory oxygen device to skin-absorbing anti-inflammatories to insights into how bacteria become antibiotic-resistant. His latest project could bring down the cost of spine-surgery implants 50 percent. “As a child, I never had an identity as a ‘creative person,’ ” Schwarzrock recalls. “But now that I know, it helps explain a lot of what I felt and went through.”
Creativity has always been prized in American society, but it’s never really been understood. While our creativity scores decline unchecked, the current national strategy for creativity consists of little more than praying for a Greek muse to drop by our houses. The problems we face now, and in the future, simply demand that we do more than just hope for inspiration to strike. Fortunately, the science can help: we know the steps to lead that elusive muse right to our doors.
— Newsweek: Bo Bronson and Ashley Merryman
Not to be outdone by Newsweek, TIME published a compilation The Science of Creativity – a series of articles divided into four large chapters:
- The Creative Animal
- The Creative Mind
- Creativity in Action
- Creativity at Any Age
The essays, penned by a myriad of authors, are eclectic and intriguing, many of which have appeared in past issues of TIME magazine:
- Introduction: Striving for the New
- This Is Your Brain on Creativity
- Learning from Leonardo
- Under the Hood
- Are Neurotics More Creative?
- A Fine Madness
- The Power of Sleep
- Inside the Creative Space
- Seven Secrets to Unleashing Creativity
- Pushing Your Envelope
- Does Screen Time Stunt Kids’ Creativity?
- You’re Never Too Old
- When Schools Get Creative
- How Parents Can Excite and Inspire
- Eureka Moments
- The Last Word
Creativity is one of the most human of qualities. But what is creativity, and what makes us creative? The Science of Creativity takes a look at both the science and the art of this world-changing trait—how we define it, how we measure it and what encourages it. With insights from the editors of TIME, this new Special Edition features thought-provoking articles on the meaning of creativity, its part in human history and its role in our future.
— Amazon review of TIME special edition
Creativity in Orchestra
A recent NAfME article was written specifically for orchestral players and their music directors. Even after more than 43 years of conducting orchestras, I would have to admit that helping my instrumentalists to become more creative musicians has always been a challenge. In the Music Educators Journal, Volume 105, Number 3, March 2019, “Integrating Creative Practices into the Orchestra Classroom,” author Leon Park seeks to explore the realm of the “less traditional” in rationale, goals, and techniques to build the capacity of his students’ imagination, innovation, and creativity.
My primary objective as a high school orchestra educator is to help students develop and refine their perpetual and technical acuities as orchestra musicians – from understanding and applying proper instrument-playing technique in functional music theory as they relate to repertoire to reading and translating music notation with accuracy and confidence to interpreting musical compositions with an understanding of the composer’s intent and a sensitive sensitivity toward performing in an expressive manner.
The daily regime of helping my students of achieve these objectives is an extraordinarily enriching yet time-consuming endeavor. As such, I find that opportunities to engage students in experiences that reach beyond the purview of traditional orchestra musicianship – such as improvisation, songwriting, remixing, soundscape in, recording, and looping – are rare.
— Leo Park
After providing a list of hardware, devices, web apps, software, and iOS apps, Park proposes a series of exercises and other creative practices:
- Drone Improvisation
- Circle Stringing
- Melodizing over Chords
He also shares a video playlist of creative approaches, primarily string players engaging in creative music-making.
If you currently teach instrumental music, I recommend you read this piece. (You must be a member of the National Association of Music Education for access to its periodical Music Educators Journal.)
Creativity should be at the heart of all the affective areas of the curriculum. Its context is imagination, origination, and invention; but it goes beyond that to include interpretation and personalized imitation. Characteristically it calls upon preference and decision to a greater extent than other modes of thought. It is especially important as “a way of coming to know” through independent, innovative responses to ideas into means of expression.
— John Paynter in Sound and Structure
Educational Commission of the States
In a more recent release of EdNote (July 2018), How School Leaders Can Inspire Daily Creativity makes a good case that, “As building-level leaders, school principals play a key role in ensuring every student has access to high-quality and equitable arts learning as part of a well-rounded education,” citing numerous supportive sources:
The article concluded with the following salient statements:
From identifying the arts in a school’s budget to supporting student performances and gallery displays, principals can engage parents and the school community in the school’s educational goals.
While our [administrators’] daily routines may feel less inspired than other activities, it is through innovative ideas and acts of self-expression that shape everyday life as we know it. The arts can provide students with these same opportunities, setting them up for success in school, work and life.
— EdNote: Cassandra Quille
Check out What Creativity Really Is – and Why Schools Need It by Liane Gabora from The Conversation.
Associate Professor of Psychology and Creative Studies, University of British Columbia, Gabora explores “the creative process” in studies from the Interdisciplinary Creativity Research Group.
She examines sorting out these apparently antipodal/opposing concepts:
- inventors vs. imitators
- creators vs. conformers
- innovation vs. over-stimulation
- devaluation of creative personality attributes such as risk taking, impulsivity and independence vs. focus on the reproduction of knowledge and obedience at school
She shares three insightful suggestions on cultivating creativity in the classroom:
- “Focus less on the reproduction of information and more on critical thinking and problem solving.”
- “Curate activities that transcend traditional disciplinary boundaries…”
- “Pose questions and challenges, and follow up with opportunities for solitude and reflection.”
A couple more “finds” for your reading pleasure:
Hopefully, readers/followers of this website will send in their own “gems” on creativity. Please feel free to comment and share your own references… so we can collaborate on and re-energize this dialogue.
If you have not had the opportunity to read my past blog-posts on creativity, please take a moment and examine these:
Now go out there and… teach, learn, and be creative!
© 2019 Paul K. Fox
Photo credits in order from Pixabay.com: