Creative Thoughts about Creativity #6

28 08 2009

Picture1The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious.  It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science.  He to whom the emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause and stand wrapped up in wonder is as good as dead.  His eyes are closed.

Albert Einstein

 Where there is an open mind, there will always be a frontier.

Charles Kettering

 Reason can answer questions, but imagination has to ask them!

alph W.  Gerard

 A person who never makes a mistake never tried anything.


 When you refuse to accept the obvious, you’ve taken your first giant step toward creativity.


 Inspiration is the impact of a fact on a prepared mind.

Louis Pasteur

Enthusiasm is the most important single factor toward making a person creative.

                                                                                              Robert E.  Mueller

 Serendipity or the happy discovery, happens only when you are actually seeking something.

M.  O.  Edwards

 The real mark of the creative person is that the unforseen problem is a joy and not a curse.

Norman H.  Mackworth

The creative mind is seldom bored.

Gordon A.  Macleod

 There are certain things that our age needs.  It needs, above all, courageous hope and the impulse to creativeness.

Bertrand Russell

Nothing is as powerful as a good idea, but nothing is so powerfully sure-fire as a good idea whose time has come.

G.  Herbert True


28 08 2009

By Wayne Morris

“The roots of a creative society are in basic education. The sheer volume of facts to be digested by the students of today leaves little time for a deeper interrogation of their moral worth. The result has been a generation of technicians rather than visionaries, each one taking a career rather than an idea seriously. The answer must be reform in our educational methods so that students are encouraged to ask about “know-why” as well as “know-how”. Once the arts are restored to a more central role in educational institutions, there could be a tremendous unleashing of creative energy in other disciplines too.”

Source: On Arts: Creative New Zealand. Michael D. Higgins, the former Irish Minister for Arts, Culture and Gaeltacht


But is it enough to focus on the arts as the source of creativity in education?

Is there a much broader role for creativity in education?


“All our futures: Creativity, culture and education”, the UK National Advisory Committees report [DfEE, 1999] defines creativity as:


“First, they [the characteristics of creativity] always involve thinking or behaving imaginatively.


Second, overall this imaginative activity is purposeful: that is, it is directed to achieving an objective.  


Third, these processes must generate something original.


Fourth, the outcome must be of value in relation to the objective.”


 This from the UK. From the US – the Creative Classroom Project was a collaboration between Project Zero and the Disney Worldwide Outreach to produce materials that help teachers explore and understand:

1. The role of creativity and innovation in teaching and learning

2. The importance of developing classroom and school environments that can bring out the best in teachers and students, and

3. Methods for making classrooms more engaging places


The following quote, from one of the teachers involved in the project, adds to the UK definition.

“Although most people might look for signs of creativity in the appearance of the bulletin boards, student made projects, centers and displays in the classroom, I feel the truly creative classroom goes way beyond what can be seen with the eyes. It is a place where bodies and minds actively pursue new knowledge. Having a creative classroom means that the teacher takes risks on a daily basis and encourages his/her students to do the same.” Source: Pann Baltz quoted in Creativity in the Classroom: An exploration.


Why should we bother?

· Our school system is a thinly disguised conspiracy to quash creativity.

· We are at an inflection point. We seem to be re-inventing everything – except the school system, which should [in theory] underpin, even leads, the rest.

· The main crisis in schools today is irrelevance.

  · Our educational thinking is concerned with; ‘what is’. It is not good at designing ‘what can be’.

The above from Tom Peter’s book Re-imagine. Peter’s is very critical of our present ways of educating and although focused on American education his comments could relate to most education systems across the world.


Peter’s vision:

– a school system that recognizes that learning is natural, that a love of learning is normal, and that real learning is passionate learning

– a school curriculum that values questions above answers, creativity above fact regurgitation, individuality above uniformity and excellence above standardized performance

– a society that respects its teachers and principals, pays them well, and grants them the autonomy to do their job as the creative individuals they are, and for the creative individuals in their charge.


Is this a vision that you could buy into?

Robert Fritz comments that “The most important developments in civilization have come through the creative process, but ironically, most people have not been taught to be creative.”

 Source: Robert Fritz, The Path of Least Resistance, 1994.


Is it important to our futures that creativity be taught?

What place should creativity have in our education systems?

Should we teach creatively or teach for creativity?


“By providing rich and varied contexts for pupils to acquire, develop and apply a broad range of knowledge, understanding and skills, the curriculum should enable pupils to think creatively and critically, to solve problems and to make a difference for the better. It should give them the opportunity to become creative, innovative, enterprising and capable of leadership to equip them for their future lives as workers and citizens. It should enable pupils to respond positively to opportunities, challenges and responsibilities, to manage risk and cope with change and adversity.”  Source: UK National Curriculum Handbook [p 11-12]:


Creative students lead richer lives and, in the longer term, make a valuable contribution to society. Surely those are reasons enough to bother.


Creativity in the classroom – what does it look like?

When students are being creative in the classroom they are likely to:

· question and challenge. Creative pupils are curious, question and challenge, and don’t necessarily follow the rules.

· make connections and see relationships. Creative pupils think laterally and make associations between things that are not usually connected.

· envision want might be. They imagine, see possibilities, ask ‘what if?’, picture alternatives, and look at things from different view points.

· explore ideas and options. Creative pupils play with ideas, try alternatives  and fresh approaches, keep open minds and modify their ideas to achieve creative results

· reflect critically on ideas, actions and outcomes. They review progress, invite and use  feedback, criticize constructively and make perceptive observations.


To encourage the above is likely to require a change in the way schools are run and the way teachers teach.

“The most powerful way to develop creativity in your students is to be a role model. Children develop creativity not when you tell them to, but when you show them.”

Source: Robert J Sternberg, How to develop student creativity


Creative Teaching

We humans have not yet achieved our full creative potential primarily because every child’s creativity is not properly nurtured. The critical role of imagination, discovery and creativity in a child’s education is only beginning to come to light and, even within the educational community, many still do not appreciate or realize its vital importance.” Source: Ashfaq Ishaq International Child Art Foundation


Creative teaching may be defined in two ways: firstly, teaching creatively and secondly, teaching for creativity.  Teaching creatively might be described as teachers using imaginative approaches to make learning more interesting, engaging, exciting and effective. Teaching for creativity might best be described as using forms of teaching that are intended to develop students own creative thinking and behavior. However it would be fair to say that teaching for creativity must involve creative teaching. Teachers cannot develop the creative abilities of their students if their own creative abilities are undiscovered or suppressed.


“My wife and I went to a [kindergarten] parent-teacher conference and were informed that our budding refrigerator artist, Christopher, would be receiving a grade of unsatisfactory in art. We were shocked. How could any child – let alone our child – receive a poor grade in art at such a young age? His teacher informed us that he refused to color within the lines, which was a state requirement for demonstrating ‘grade level motor skills.” Source: Jordan Ayan, AHA!


Teaching with creativity and teaching for creativity include all the characteristics of good teaching – including high motivation, high expectations, the ability to communicate and listen and the ability to interest, engage and inspire. Creative teachers need expertise in their particular fields but they need more than this. They need techniques that stimulate curiosity and raise self esteem and confidence. They must recognize when encouragement is needed and confidence threatened. They must balance structured learning with opportunities for self-direction; and the management of groups while giving attention to individuals. Teaching for creativity is not an easy option, but it can be enjoyable and deeply fulfilling. It

can involve more time and planning to generate and develop ideas and to evaluate whether they have worked. It involves confidence to improvise and take detours, to pick up unexpected opportunities for learning; to live with uncertainty and to risk admitting that an idea led nowhere. Creative teachers are always willing to experiment but they recognize the need to learn from experience. All of this requires more, not less, expertise of teachers.


“Thousands of years of history suggest that the schoolhouse a we know it is an absurd way to rear our young: it’s contrary to everything we know about what it is to be a human being. For example, we know that doing and talking are what most successful people are very good at – that’s where they truly show their stuff. “ Source: Deborah Meier, in Dennis Littkys The Big Picture


Creative teachers need confidence in their disciplines and in themselves. There are many highly creative teachers in our schools and many schools where creative approaches to teaching and learning are encouraged. But many schools and teachers do not have access to the necessary practical support and guidance in developing these approaches. Consequently there are important issues of staff development. It is important to reduce or eliminate the factors which inhibit the creative activity of teachers and learners and give priority to those that encourage it. There are, in education, extraordinarily high levels of prescription in relation to content and teaching methods. There are huge risks of de-skilling teachers and encouraging conformity and passivity in some. We have an interesting paradox. We have industry commentators saying that, for a successful future, we need people who think, are creative and innovative and yet our education systems seem to be working against this. At a national level government has a responsibility to reduce these risks and to promote higher levels of teacher autonomy and creativity in teaching and learning.


“Human creativity is the ultimate economic resource.”

Source: Richard Florida The Rise of the Creative Class


“Over the past decade the biggest employment gains came in occupations that rely on people skills and emotional intelligence .. and among jobs that require imagination and creativity. Trying to preserve existing jobs will prove futile – trade and technology will transform the economy whether we like it or not.” Source: Michael Cox, Richard Alm and Nigel Holmes Where the jobs are – New York Times 13/05/04


“The past few decades have belonged to a certain kind of person with a certain kind of mind – computer programmers who could crank code, lawyers who could craft contracts, MBA’s who could crunch numbers. But the keys to the kingdom are changing hands. The future belongs to a very different kind of person with a very different kind of mind – creators and empathizers, pattern recognizers and meaning makers. These people – artist, inventors, caregivers, consolers, big picture thinkers – will now reap society’s richest rewards and share its greatest joys.”

Source: Dan Pink, A Whole New Mind


 Teachers encouraging creativity

Carolyn Edwards and Kay Springate in their article “The lion comes out of the stone:

Helping young children achieve their creative potential” [Dimensions of Early Childhood] give the following suggestions on encouraging student creativity:


· Give students extended, unhurried time to explore and do their best work. Don’t interfere when students are productively engaged and motivated to complete tasks in which they are fully engaged.


· Create an inviting and exciting classroom environment. Provide students with space to leave unfinished work for later completion and quiet space for contemplation.


· Provide an abundant supply of interesting and useful materials and resources.


· Create a classroom climate where students feel mistakes are acceptable and risk taking is encouraged. Appropriate noise, mess and autonomy are accepted.


The UK National Curriculum in Action web-site offers suggestions as to how teachers can encourage pupil’s creativity. The site includes short video clips of teachers discussing their approaches to encouraging creativity and then demonstrating these approaches. Examples are given of encouraging creativity while planning, introducing activities, teaching and revising work.


They are well worth viewing. []

Individual teachers can have a huge influence on encouraging students to be creative but for creativity to flourish it needs to be built into the whole school ethos. This is the domain of the principal and other school leaders. School leaders encouraging creativity.  Teachers can do a lot to encourage creativity in their classes but it’s a job only half done without the support of the school leadership. School leaders have the ability to build an expectation of creativity into a school’s learning and teaching strategies. They can encourage, recognize and reward creativity in both pupils and teachers. School leaders have the ability to provide resources for creative endeavors; to involve teachers and pupils in creating stimulating environments; to tap the creativity of staff, parents and the local community and much more. They have the ability to make creativity art of the staff development program; to include creativity in everyone’s performance reviews; to invite creative people into the school and most important of all, to lead by example!!


The last word[s]

“Steve Jobs has done more Cool Stuff than anybody else in Silicon Valley. . . . one of his success secrets is loading every development team with artist … and historians … and poets … and musicians … and dramatists. He says he wants to bring to bear, on each project, the best of human cultural accomplishment. So how come schools don’t get it? Budget crunch? First programmes to be cut? Art and Music. I say … the hell with the math budget [I really don’t mean that.] Let’s enhance the art budget and inflate the music budget. Training in Creativity is important, in general. But it is absolutely essential in this Age of Intangibles and Intellectual Capital.”

 Source: Tom Peters, Re-imagine

Do you agree and are you doing anything about it? I’d love to hear from you.

Motivational Quotes by Students

28 08 2009

If you quit at your passion because it got too hard and you failed at it, you shall be a failure at many things.

    Van Jones (3rd grade student)


Even if you don’t do well at first, keep pursuing your passions, you will get better at them.

        Charlie Squire (3rd grade student)


At first passions are difficult.  But they give you energy.

              Charlie Squire (3rd grade student)


The more and more you explore something…

You get more and more out of it.

                    Olivia Ware (4th grade student)


Passion is something you like to do.

Passion isn’t something someone makes you do.

I am glad that we can choose our own passions

and someone doesn’t need to make us do them.

           Laurel Larsen (4th grade student)


If we did not take risks we would not be able to accomplish anything.

 Shannon Williams (4th grade student)


In your work you work to find your passion.

    Ali Burton (4th grade student)


When you aim high or you goals are extremely high, you are much more likely to succeed.

 Olivia Ware (4th grade student)


There is an enjoyable feeling of working hard on something that challenges you.

                                                     Shannon Williams (4th grade student) 


I think it is good if you do something you do not like because you could start liking it so much it could become one of your passions.

                                                                         Blake Krawl (4th grade student)

It’s About Time!!

28 08 2009

(based on an idea by Joel Barker)

Here is a story for those who have more than a passing interest in time.


About 400 years ago there was a battle over time.  You see, it was around the 1600’s when the first pocket watch was introduced.  Now people had time on their hands. But there were many who thought clocks were meant to be in towers, not in trousers.  Perhaps it was because the first model was the size and shape of a lemon.  For the stylish gentleman this meant the convenience of knowing the precise time but did create a rather unsightly bulge in his trousers.


As time passed, it became the fashion to spend time designing thinner watches.  Watch designers worked around the clock and even put in overtime in this race against time to create the thinnest watch.  By the 1700’s the French and British compressed the timepiece to 1 2 inches thick.  One hundred years later they squeezed the mechanism to : of an inch.  By 1850 manufacturers bottomed out at 3 of an inch.  You could say they were pressed for time.  Surprisingly this is still the thickness of most watches today.


As thinness reached its limit, the watch industry started to rotate the crank turning the gears of price and performance; lower price, more accuracy, lower price, more accuracy.  But, like clockwork, a new battle was about to begin.  It was only a matter of time when the pendulum would swing to a new battlefront.


Allow me to explain.  Before WWII the Swiss owned 90% of the watch market.  And even up to 1968 they still enveloped most of the world market share.  But time was running out for the Swiss. In ten years their corner on the market plummeted to almost nothing and they even had to release most of their workers.  This was the original time release formula of downsizing.  What happened?  What time bomb hit the Swiss?  They themselves were enveloped and wrapped up in their old way of thinking.  You might say that they were stitched in time.


A new nation soon dominated the watch making industry.  In the past this nation was unknown for watches.  But now Japan led the watch industry.  How could the Swiss, who controlled watch making for the entire 20th century, known for excellence and innovation, experience such a timely demise?  Were they just killing time?  What was the key to the failure of the Swiss and the success of Japan?


 The answer was profoundly simple.  The Swiss were put back to ground zero by a paradigm shift — a paradigm gear shift. Many of you are wearing this paradigm shift on your wrist right now if you took time to put them on.  The quartz movement watch is totally electronic using only one moving part.  It is one thousand times more accurate, more versatile and even thinner than the mechanical watch.


Who made time to invent this wonderful idea of using Quartz crystals for time keeping?  Some of you already know the answer.  The Quartz crystal watch was invented by the Swiss themselves in Neuchatel at their research laboratories. But when the researchers presented this idea to their manufacturers they were closed to the idea.  Their minds were locked. How did the engineers feel about this rejection?  I bet it really ticked them off.  I bet they really wanted to clean their clock.


They may have heard the manufacturers say these timeless killer phrases:

“It doesn’t have any gears to mesh with what we have always done”,

“We don’t have time for this”,

“This won’t wind up anywhere”,

“What a waste of time”,

“It just doesn’t tick”.


So confident were they, so locked in their mental box — in their Aparabox. They didn’t protect their idea.  They were not watching out for the possible time change.  They must have been Ahalf past out.  Texas instruments of America and Seiko of Japan took one look and the rest was history.  You see, they made the time.  For them it was good time management, perfect timingTime was definitely on their side.  They were having the time of their lives.  They were on a Rollex.


But for the Swiss . . . they had no time share in this.  And now they were living on borrowed time.  Things were winding down.  Soon their time would be up.  Yes, they were out of time.  They couldn’t beat the clock. They took a licking, and kept on ticking. They virtually disappeared from the marketplace.  They were locked in their old way of thinking — in a box, in a time capsule.  They refused to set their clocks to one of the biggest changes in the history of timekeeping. They were trying to make time stand still.  But you can’t turn back the clock when times change.  The rules had changed.  Not even the best watchmakers of the world could stop time.  They couldn’t call time out to progress.


There is a message here for all of us for all time that will help us remember the moral of this timely parable . . . that will help us be more clockwise. Don’t let old timeworn paradigms imprison your ideas in a box like serving time in a prison cage!! We need to break through the walls to create new ideas and not be behind the times.  Only then can we spring open the doors to the future and get outside of the paradigm box!!!

Myths of Giftedness

28 08 2009

         The following is from Special Education in Canada (Volume 56 #1 Fall Issue)

 and The Gifted Kid’s Survival Guide by Judy Galbraith

 Myth: Gifted children will make it on their own.


Reality: Everyone needs help, encouragement and appropriate learning experiences in order to make the most of themselves.  Many learners with gifted abilities have disabilities or are underachievers and some will become dropouts from learning or from school unless they receive guidance and challenge.



Myth: Gifted children can be handled adequately in a regular classroom.


Reality: Gifted children process information much faster and in different ways than other students.  Classroom teachers are notably producing differentiated curriculum but do not always have the time to develop quantitatively different programs for each learner for all curriculum.  Classroom teachers need help and resources to deal adequately with children who are no in the learning mainstream.  Just giving more work or asking them to teach others does not educate a child at his or her own level.


Myth: If gifted children are grouped together or given special programs they will become an elite group.


Reality: By derivation, elite means the choice, or the best, or superior part of a body or class of persons.  However, time and an overemphasis on egalitarianism have imparted a negative connotation to the word, implying snobbishness, selectivity, and unfair special attention.  Like a Jazz band or a Basketball team, we often group children according to their talents.  We expect children will achieve their best at their own level.  We should provide some grouping for gifted children, not so they can learn to be snobs, but so they can experience working with children most like themselves. In fact, gifted children are elite in the same way that anyone becomes a champion, a record- holder, a soloist, an inventor, or a leader in important realms of human endeavor. Linda Silverman adds that it is stressful raising a child with any type of exceptionality, but parents of gifted children have the added stress of being continuously discounted.  There are great emotional risks in going to the principal and saying, “I believe my child is gifted and has special needs.”  Too often they hear the patronizing reply, “Yes, Mrs. Maxwell, all our parents think their children are gifted.” Parents of disabled children do not receive this kind of treatment. Therefore, parents have a distinct responsibility to challenge those who cry “elitism” and explain to them the true meaning of the term.

Myth: Programs for gifted children are good for all children.


Reality: Possibly true if only content is considered.  We often hear that all students should be exposed to the topics taught to the gifted.  However the pace and depth of understanding and exploration is different for gifted children and is not equal or the same for all learners.  In many cases mainstream students would not want and would not be able to handle the issues addressed in a gifted class.



Myth: Gifted children must learn to get along with their peers


Reality: A great goal —  but which peers? social peers? chronological peers? economic peers? intellectual peers?  We should look at all sides of a societal goal. Many times all provisions for the gifted student — ability grouping, acceleration, pull-out programs, full day programs, special schools — are held suspect on the grounds that they will “prevent the children’s social adjustment.” Indeed, the remarkable emphasis on the school as an agent of socialization makes one wonder if anyone really cares about the development of these children’s abilities or if all that is important is whether they fit in! Gifted children find their intellectual and talented peers stimulating and should be allowed some time to get along and work in their atmosphere as well as in a regular classroom. Studies by Feldhsen, Kulik and Kulik and Oakes confirm what…educators have known for years: gifted students benefit cognitively and affectively from working with other gifted students.



Myth: Everyone is gifted


Reality: True.  And we are all athletic and musical to a degree.  But we cannot all achieve at the same level all of the time.  If we could, Olympic medals would be as common as dollar coins and we could all hold concerts to draw international audiences.  Let us be realistic, we cannot believe that everyone is at the same learning in the classroom all the time.