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  • Craig Cortello

    I've found 2 consistent themes regarding creativity based on my research:

    1. Creative ability is like a muscle. It will either strengthen with use or wither with inactivity. Dedicate time to creative pursuits, your "innovation workout," so to speak.

    2. Studies show that those who believe that they are creative tend to be creative, and those who don't aren't. It's a twist on the old adage "Those who belive they can and those who believe they can't are both probably right.

    While the formula for creativity is complex, cutting arts and music education can only curtail those efforts to ensure that our students are equipped for the evolving workplace.

    I've interviewed numerous successful professionals from a cross-section of careers who point to music education as a defining experience is laying the foundation for their success.

    More on this topic in my book "Everything We Needed to Know About Business, We Learned Playing Music"
    http://www.amazon.com/Everything-Needed-Business-Learned-Playing/dp/0978990013

    Music and Arts Education Advocacy materials/articles at my Blog:
    http://bizmusician.wordpress.com/

    "From the Band Room to the Boardroom: The 9 Common Lessons of Music Education That Translate into Success"
    http://bizmusician.wordpress.com/2010/04/06/435/

  • Mollyanne

    Living in a classroom (as a teacher ... and a student at times) I wonder how the words - Entrepreneurship, communication and media literacy will help me as I try to incorporate creative thinking into my teaching and into my student's educational experience. I'm studying creative thinking in a MA program and defining creativity or creative thinking is a hugely difficult thing. As one area becomes more clear another becomes more illuminated by mystery and questions. It is at one at the same time exciting and discombobulating! lol. I struggle with the idea of developing a common language or set of words as it seems to me that creativity and creative thinking is experienced and expressed in such different ways - depending on the age of the students, the class, the culture, the educator (to name just a few). I agree completely with the idea that creativity and creative thinking (in education and life) is essential - for joy, for expression, for problem solving, for life! - I'm not sure coming up with definitions we can all agree with and use are essential .... BUT, I am sure the thought, reflection and conversation about them is essential! So for me, even if we do not ultimately discover three words we are all comfortable using, I am happy and encouraged to know the discussion is happening and I have the opportunity to be part of it!

  • evansamek

    This is an interesting discussion, and I completely agree that it is important to put more structure around our understanding of creativity in the classroom. I agree with Josh that these three ideas are a good starting point.

    I would suggest a slight variation. After all, Entrepreneurship can be seen as a desired outcome of creativity, not a part of the definition. Communication is critical for that creativity to take shape in a way that can be shared with others, and Media Literacy concerns the tools that are available for that shape to be found and shared.

    As an alternative, how about focusing on the different actions that define facets of creativity? A willingness to Build ideas (which can lead to entrepreneurship), to Explore ideas (and examine their component parts), to Remix ideas (borrowing from other subjects & disciplines) and to Conjure ideas (out of your imagination, even though we know that it is mostly remixing anyways). There are others that I am exploring with my current work. What do you think?

    • Viktor Venson

      Thanks evansamek - this is good. I think what you are talking about feels like the next steps in defining how the 3 areas could work in practice, and implementation. Exploration, Building, and Remixing are musts in almost every creative exercise. These feel like methodologies to be used as goals and directives for how the exercises and projects should play out in the classrooms. Not sure they should replace the 3 areas defined, but they are great tactical additions and 'actionable lenses' when working towards Entrepreneurship, Communication, and Media Literacy. Would you agree?

      • evansamek

        Ah, interesting to see those as "actionable lenses." That is a good point. Perhaps I am missing some facet of your article ... how would you describe these three areas defined? Do you intend them as parts of a definition of creativity? Desired outcomes? New classroom subjects through which creativity can emerge? Or something else?

  • joshandrewcook

    The idea of quantifying creativity is an interesting one. It does cause a bit of a visceral reaction to even say it - but if we're going to bring creativity into education (let's just pretend we all agree on the importance of that), there does need to be some standards and metrics to work with. What would be interesting is if these quantifiers left room for expandability. That is, we construct a box of understanding for students to excursive their creativity within, but there has to be an allowance for when a student legitimately "thinks outside that box". If we're inviting them to think creatively, we need to understand that they may perform beyond our initial understanding of creativity. (THIS IS MY PARAGRAPH BREAK) I think that your three areas of understanding are a good launching point for this - though I'd invite greater minds to consider if it's the case. Quantifying creativity (those words together still leave a bitter taste in my mouth) is a big contraption to add into the education machine, and I think it's important that the fundamentals are in place. So I give you great credit for tackling this at the early stage. You're probably right about a communication abilities and grasp on media literacy being two big components. Entrepreneurship seems like a loaded and distracting term however. I understand that the consideration is how something then fits into our society - how much value it brings, and to how many people. But the term "value" starts to get stretched pretty thin when we think about the success of many great pieces of creativity. I feel like some term that defines "societal impact" might be more appropriate. Great article and discussion worth having however. I hope to be involved in an NRBLB challenge some day soon.

    • Viktor Venson

      Hi Josh - thanks for your thoughts. Completely agree with everything you are saying. What we're trying to do here is merely beginning of many iterations before we get to the first milestone - as you say, we need to start somewhere. Regarding your thoughts on Entrepreneurship - the a short reason to why we have included it, is that we believe that creativity and innovation go hand in hand with entrepreneurial endeavors. This country was built on that. We therefore believe that it is crucial to cultivate a responsible and innovative spirit of entrepreneurship. For the future generations not only to be good at taking leaps and starting ventures, but for them to be innovative, responsible, and conscious enough to build ventures that will solve real and pressing problems in the next century. Looking forward to you participating in the next NRBLB.

  • Monera

    A Few Points:

    1) Stop discussing STEM and start discussing STEAM. The A is for arts, as one may imagine, and has really been embraced by the Maker movement.

    2) Coding languages have a much simpler grammatical structure, so how do you propose to define creativity in the midst of our rich verbal expression? I actually think coding will get more complicated as we see the rise of NLP in computing.

    3) If you want to move into a 21st century model why are we still talking about 19th century benchmarks and metrics? The need to prove yourself to some bureaucrat is unnecessary, gone are the days of the company man. Most people won’t have the job security our grandparents had, so why do we need their tools? Do you get out the hand drill?

    4) When talking about standardization of creativity, I imagine very uncreative people (teachers) who dogmatically insist that “Flowers are red young man (Harry Chapin).”

    5) We need to stop holding teachers as holy, and start asking ourselves hard questions about who we entrust with our future. With the lowest IQs of any college graduate (except social work), a disposition to follow arbitrary and soul crushing rules, and the knowledge that they will be vastly underpaid: is it any wonder we are falling at school? (Yes, I know there are brilliant, and often altruistic exceptions who find teaching a calling.)

    How many entrepreneurs will hire sup-par employees who want to be underpaid?

    These are the people you are asking to inspire kids to be change makers? Teachers who make changes get ousted from their schools, sanctioned for not following common core, and ostracized by their peers.

    Students who are different are bullied and terrorized, often systemically sanction by schools. Talk to any GLBT student. School is not a place for change, it is a place, as you are proposing for creativity, for standardization and norms.

    6) I would like to see every class living at the intersection of technology and humanities. The kind of teacher that can cross pollinate two disciplines is the kind of teacher we need for the future. We need to stop ageism in classrooms and group by ability. Students need to have an equal voice. We need to murder busy work and give students the ability to thrive passionately. Without student by-in, we are all talking to ourselves.

    I am a creative destructionist at heart. Radical collaboration can only happen if we burn sacred cows.

    • Viktor Venson

      @Monera - thanks for the debate. There is clearly a passion for the subject. Let me address each point one by one 1) Yes, a partnership between STEAM and STEM is clearly needed we are currently working on that. RISD has a great program called from STEMtoSTEAM that we are talking possibilities with them right now. STEM is not going to go away, therefore we need to find ways of complementing STEM if there is any hope of mass adoption of creativity and innovation in the current school model. 2) Coding uses a completely different set of skills than creative writing per say. I am not really comparing coding to writing, but simply saying that coding (and understanding of it) is an important element in todays DIY age, and should be considered as a part of Media Literacy. 3) This is true that we need to establish new measures. However, we believe in collaboration and in collaborating with existing structures and elements. We believe in uniting, not dividing. The current structures and standards need to be evolved into something that is measuring the right things. Much like STEM, they are not going to go away. So how can we find ways to work together? 4) We have to step away from thinking about 'standards' as a bad thing and start thinking about them as a tool for focusing our efforts and speaking the same language. We should learn from the failure of NCLB but not stop believing in the power of a good structure and focus. 5) This is a whole different debate that deserves its own thread. One element that defines teachers is passion. Their passion for teaching is unsurpassed and them working for low salaries is yet another proof of that. No, not all teachers are good or equal, but we need to make the good ones better, and give them the tools to flourish. 6) Amen. If you really think about it, Technology and Humanities is STEM + STEAM. It is what has made Apple the most valuable enterprise in the world. It was the genius of Steve Jobs. Again, we need to unite these two worlds in a mutually beneficial structure, hence this first stab on setting a framework for what creativity means in classrooms. You do a great job on covering off the broad spectrum of what the education crisis is about. And there is plenty to cover and debate about. I hope this clarified things.

    • Monera

      Sorry this form did not encode paragraph breaks.

  • dwpaxson

    I do art, fiction, code, patents, math, science, and media. Hard at work on all three of the focus areas. Maybe my list will be of some help in stimulating new pathways for creative learning - so many of you out there can take things so much further!

    http://www.linkedin.com/in/danawpaxson (to my LinkedIn presence listing my patents)
    http://www.danapaxsonstudio.com/DR%20Latest/Website/RandomPlunge.htm (to a random scene from my fictional future world)
    http://tinyurl.com/46yufaa (to Second Life and a 3D build of mine that links to my fiction)
    http://innermostcrossings.blogspot.com/ (to my blog on everything from politics to art)

    • Viktor Venson

      thanks for this Dawn. Let's get in touch on Linkedin!