Creativity on the Brink?

Source: ACSD website, Feb 2013

The Need for Creativity

Conversations about a creativity crisis often emphasize the need to infuse more creative thinking into students’ school experiences—as long as it doesn’t depress test scores.

Focusing primarily on test scores is shortsighted. … The 21st century pace of change, as well as the global economy, demand young people who can learn on their own, solve problems, and respond to situations unlike any their parents or teachers can envision.

The Creativity–Learning Link

Speaking to Brandt (1993), Howard Gardner stated, 

The findings of cognitive research over the past 20–30 years are really quite compelling: students do notunderstand, in the most basic sense of that term. That is, they lack the capacity to take knowledge learned in one setting and apply it appropriately in a different setting. Study after study has found that, by and large, even the best students in the best schools can’t do that. (p. 47)

Students develop understanding by applying what they learn in diverse ways and multiple settings. Creative applications of core content are among teachers’ most powerful tools in building students’ understanding. If we want students to master the content, they must do something with it beyond simple repetition. They must use it in meaningful ways and make it their own.

The Creativity–Motivation Link

Most teachers would agree that helping students find purpose (to say nothing of joy) in their school tasks is one of the great challenges of teaching. To achieve in-depth understanding, students must be engaged with the content, rather than focusing on an external reward, grade, or prize. Thus, intrinsic motivation that focuses on the task is central to learning.

Intrinsic motivation is also central to creativity.

… our three keys for developing student creativity.

Key 1: Develop a creativity-friendly classroom.

Key 2: Teach the skills and attitudes of creativity.

Key 3: Teach the creative methods of the disciplines.


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