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October 23, 2008

Fostering Creativity

Creating is Bloom's highest level of thinking. Creating is not limited to "the creative." We all create when we make new combinations of existing elements. Someone put wheels on the bottom of a scaled-down surfboard and created the skateboard. And so it goes...

While teachers and students are constrained by mind-numbing test prep, the rest of society is working overtime to foster creative connections. In September the annual "IdeaFestival" was held in Louisville, KY. It brings together creative thinkers from different disciplines to connect ideas in science, the arts, design, business, film, technology and education. The festival motto - "If it can possibly go together, it comes together here." Why not apply that perspective in our schools?

Here are some suggestions from the festival on how to come up with new ideas. Many can be easily adapted to help our students discover their creative potential in the classroom.

1. Think when you are not thinking, for example, on a run or walk.
2. Listen to classical music, go to a concert or a play or sit quietly in a park to daydream.
3. Read periodicals you would not typically read — a scientific magazine, for example, if you are more interested in business. Same with books outside your typical genre.
4. Attend a conference outside your field.
5. Surround yourself with creative thinkers.
6. Immerse yourself in a problem; ask questions, investigate possible outcomes.
7. Keep an idea journal.
8. Take a course to learn a new language or some other skill outside your expertise.
9. Be curious and experiment.
10. Articulate your idea, seek feedback, put structure on it, harvest it.

For more on teaching innovation.

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Peter - good stuff, thanks for sharing this. I had the chance to hear Daniel Pink (A Whole New Mind) today about this issue of creativity and he attempted to relate it to education. Have you read his book? Any thoughts?

Hope you are well.

Mike,

Good to hear from you. Hope all goes well at Chaminade. I think Pink is right on track. We should be fostering flexible thinkers -teaching students to create should be our foremost educational goals.

Ironically NCLB has us moving in the wrong direction. Accountability is good, but not to standardized tests. While the rest of the world tries to emulate our ability to innovate, NCLB has us dismantling it in schools only to be replaced by mindless test prep.

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