Examining Creativity

I have recently had the opportunity to present and facilitate several sessions with teachers examining the importance of developing students’ creative thinking skills. Here are some of the resources I used and the questions that guided teachers’ conversations and thinking.

The Partnership for 21st Century Skills lists the following skill sets to define Creativity and Innovation:

Think Creatively
• Use a wide range of idea creation techniques (such as brainstorming)
• Create new and worthwhile ideas (both incremental and radical concepts)
• Elaborate, refine, analyze and evaluate their own ideas in order to improve and maximize creative efforts

Work Creatively with Others
• Develop, implement and communicate new ideas to others effectively.
• Be open and responsive to new and diverse perspectives; incorporate group input and feedback into the work.
• Demonstrate originality and inventiveness in work and understand the real world limits to adopting new ideas.
• View failure as an opportunity to learn; understand that creativity and innovation is a long-term, cyclical process of small successes and frequent mistakes.

Implement Innovations
• Act on creative ideas to make a tangible and useful contribution to the field in which the innovation will occur.

Questions for Facilitation

What is your definition of creativity?

How does it compare to this definition from a Newsweek article, The Creativity Crisis?

The accepted definition of creativity is production of something original and useful, and….there is never one right answer. To be creative requires divergent thinking (generating many unique ideas) and then convergent thinking (combining those ideas into the best result).

The Partnership for 21st Century skills states: A focus on creativity, critical thinking, communication and collaboration is essential to prepare students for the future.

What connections do you identify in teaching students creativity and innovation along side critical thinking, communication, and collaboration?

After watching the Ken Robinson video clip, Do Schools Kill Creativity, do you think schools kill creativity? Explain.

Where in your district’s programs are students identifying the importance of and practicing the development of the creative and innovation skills?

What percentage of the district’s students is receiving adequate instruction in creativity and innovation skills?

Do you believe that more opportunities to develop creativity and innovation skills should be provided to your students? Why?

After examining the example of the students at the National Inventors Hall of Fame School in Akron, Ohio who designed ways to lower the outside noise in the library.{earlier blog}

What ideas does the “noise in the library” study generate for your schools?

What would be the risk of implementing some of those ideas? What is the risk of not implementing?

For some interesting examples about the different ways that people arrive at creative ideas/solutions see USA Today, Tales From Small-Biz Trenches for the stories of Silly Bandz, Dippin’ Dots, and Monster.com.

I’ve had fun and insights while sharing this with teachers. Let me know if you try some of it.

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Steve Barkley

For the past 30 years, Steve has served as a consultant to school districts, teacher organizations, state departments of education, and colleges and universities nationally and internationally, facilitating the changes necessary for them to reach students and successfully prepare them for the 21st century. Read more…

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