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Month April 2014

Thinking Outside the Dots

I write and talk about creativity a lot. But when I do, I rarely have a ready illustration of what creativity is, distilled.

That changed recently. While prepping a creativity workshop I gave at Pratt a few weeks ago, I stumbled upon a fantastic book in the school’s lovely glass-floored library in Brooklyn.

James L. Adams’s Conceptual Blockbusting has been reissued four times since its original publication in 1974. I’ve barely managed to get through it, there’s so much good synthesis of psychology and education and industry, and such wonderfully mindbending examples of creative thinking.

Here’s the one that jumped out at me a few weeks ago.

It starts with a familiar puzzle.

Without lifting your pencil from the paper,
draw no more than four straight lines
so that they cross through all nine dots.

dots, 3 rows of 3

 

Our tendency to stick within the imagined boundary of the square is what makes this puzzle difficult.

The puzzle can be solved only by going outside that boundary:

dots, solved width=

 

But that isn’t the only possible solution. Far from it.

The solutions that follow exemplify true creativity, and remind us how important it is — if you want to increase your creativity — to develop a mindset unrestrained by category or context. 

dots, solved width=

 

The psychological phenomenon of functional fixedness is a classic block to creativity. Functional fixedness is a cognitive bias that limits us to considering an object according to its intended function. 

The next solutions beautifully defy that phenomenon by transcending the “bias” that the two-dimensional plane of a sheet of paper is inviolable.

The dots may be intersected by just one single line if the sheet is curved into a cylinder:

dots, solved width=

 

Or if the sheet is intricately folded….

dots, solved width=

 

This solution shatters the perceived context of the puzzle. A bit cheeky, but still:

dots, solved width=

 

And finally, this ten-year-old girl’s solution defies the perception that the solution lies in manipulating the paper.

dots, solved width=

 

The next time you face a challenging problem, it might be helpful to remember these examples. Consider how you might creatively defy context and category not only to generate solutions, but also to view the very problem as something different from what you first believed it to be.

Why Is Everything Connected When You Are Younger, But Gets Separated Into Subjects As You Get Older?

In elementary school, I became interested in seeing pictures and words together, like in comics. I remember one class project where we each made a little book by writing a 10-page story and drawing pictures for it. But then what happened is what happens to a lot of people in our current education system. Everything is connected when you are younger, but it gets separated into subjects as you get older. It’s no longer copying Garfield cartoons and making illustrated books—all of a sudden, it is divided into art class and English class.

After that point, words and pictures began to split apart for me. I felt pulled between visual art and writing, and they continued to battle each other throughout high school and college.” –Austin Kleon via The Great Discontent 

I was struck by this observation from Austin Kleon and wondered why that is–why is everything connected when we are younger, but gets separated into subjects as we get older? How might we rethink * these arbitrary divisions? How might we help our students, not to feel torn between disciplines, but to help them gain a greater understanding of and engagement with the whole by melding them all together? Would love to hear your thoughts.

RETHINK …* 

Humble Pied: Inspiring Makers Sharing One Piece of Advice, All Over Video Chat …*

Awesome resource alert: Mig Reyes‘ Humble Pied–a series of video chat interviews, each featuring an inspiring maker sharing one piece of advice.

This project originated as a presentation for a design conference I was asked to speak at. Being 22 at the time, I didn’t have much sage advice to give. I did–and still do–have plenty of smart and talented friends, colleagues and former bosses who have shaped my career. Deciding to share the advice they gave me, I started recording video interviews and built this site to house all of their captured words of wisdom.

Each interview, which lasts an average of three minutes, has Mig asking his guests to introduce themselves and then asks them: If you had just one piece of advice that you would share with someone who is looking to start their creative career or looking for just general advice, what would that one piece of advice be? Unfortunately, Mig hasn’t added any more interviews in the past couple of years, but if, like me, you’re only just discovering this platform, you will find plenty to browse and delight with the wonderful list of interviewees that Mig has curated–from Nicholas Felton, Jason Fried to Jason Santa Maria. Here are three of Mig’s interviews with some rethinked  …* favorites.

discover & rethink …*

JOHN MAEDA

Humble Pied: John Maeda from Mig Reyes on Vimeo.

“I think it’s to come in contact with the fact that as artist and designers you’re trained to be a great individual–someone that can do things by yourself, your way and to look for opportunities to do things with others. To find how your idea of artistic integrity, of the individual, can be broadened. Find a group integrity, find a peaceful place with that. Because the world is changing so much, you really can’t do it alone anymore. And to work together.”

DEBBIE MILLMAN 

Humble Pied: Debbie Millman from Mig Reyes on Vimeo.

“Try not to compromise. So many people don’t do what they really want in their hearts because they feel like they’re not good enough or they’re not smart enough, or they’re not talented enough or they’re not beautiful enough or thin enough–anything, anything. And that doesn’t matter. In order for you to live a remarkable life, in order for you to live a life that is fulfilling, you need to be able to go after  what you really want. And if you don’t, you’re not ever going to achieve it, ever. But if you do try, then the odds are, if you work really really hard, you can get there. It might take a long time but you will get there. And my sort of sidebar piece of advice to that piece of advice, is to try not to take no for an answer. I can’t begin to tell you how many things I have been told no in my first go around at trying but by the third or the fourth that no turns into a maybe and then that maybe turns into a yes. I’ve had one pattern in my life that I’ve recognized, is that the first time I’ve tried to do something, I’ve often been rejected. And even the second time I’ve tried to do something, I’ve often been rejected. What I’ve realized and what I’ve seen now in my research on being able to achieve something, is that eighty percent of people give up after the second try. So that means that if you try a third time you have a much smaller pool of people that you’re competing with. And so, I would recommend not taking no for an answer until you don’t want it anymore. If you keep wanting it, keep trying for it.”

TINA ROTH EISENBERG 

Humble Pied: Swiss Miss from Mig Reyes on Vimeo.

“Okay, there’s one piece of advice that I would give anyone that is starting a career–it’s actually a rule I live by–and that is that if an opportunity comes your way that scares you, you have to take it. And I remember the first time I was invited to speak at a fairly well-known conference, and I’ve never had any speaking experience before. I was scared in my initial reaction and that’s when I realized, you know what, this scares me for a reason because actually I’m going to grow with this and this is important for my career and I just have to, you know, work through it. And I did–I prepared, I had someone help me learn about presenting and all that. And afterwards, coming out of it, even though I was so scared, in the moment of, when I did it and everything, I was very proud of myself, I felt like I learned a lot, I made a huge leap forward in my career just with that and hence I got more speaking engagements out of it. So this is just a general rule that I live by.”

*

Immersive, emotional, interactive experiences for deep learning

A friend of mine sent me the this link  last week that has since made it’s way around the internet (warning: do NOT click if you’re phobic of open water). If you haven’t seen this brilliant advertisement, check it out before reading the rest of this entry…

…ok? did you play? Have you caught your breath yet?

Immersive instructional environments like this truly drive a concept home. You can guarantee the next time I am on a boat and see a life jacket, I will be reminded of scrolling furiously for 3 minutes as my heart pounded out of my chest. Imagine if companies made ads like these for wearing seat belts?!  Or for drug and alcohol abuse awareness?

I have already lauded the promise of game-based learning in a previous post. However, I’d like to add immersive to my list of things that make a learning environment good. And – in addition to the learning benefits of a game-like interactive experience, technology allows us to develop fairly immersive experiences that are not easily accessible in real life, due to time constraints, distance, money, or simple physics. For instance, in playing the game Civilization, students are able better understand the factors that contribute to the rise and fall of successful and unsuccessful societies over vast periods of times. Miegakure is a platform game currently in development where you can experience a four-dimensional world.

Importantly, immersive experiences lead to better learning, with or without technology. I still remember the “Ellis Island” experience my Hebrew School had when I was maybe 11 years old, where we were herded into various classrooms that represented different parts of the journey many of our ancestors made on their way to the states and forced to make decisions that many immigrants make when coming to America.

How do these environments work? Vast research has shown that grounded cognition leads to deeper, more meaningful learning (i.e., learning that transfers to new contexts and is likely to stick around!). Grounded cognition rejects the idea that knowledge is separated from context in our brains. Rather, grounded cognition proposes that simulations, bodily states, and context underly cognition. Additionally, it is important to tie new information to prior knowledge in order to promote better integration of that information in the brain (which is how to make sure it stays and is easier to retrieve in the future).   Therefore, we should contextualize and situated action within relevant learning spaces in order to promote learning.

With platforms like Second Life, teachers can design their own immersive virtual worlds for students to enter and learn from, and I can only hope that the technology will improve. Can you think of a way in which immersive interactive learning has left a mark on your education? If you had a budget like Mariner’s Shelter did (the sea experience), what educational environment would you create?

 

Debbie Millman on Finding Inner Courage, Taking Responsibility for Your Own Happiness & Growing Into Your Self …*

“Imagine immensities. Try to pick yourself up from rejection. And, plow ahead. Don’t compromise. Start now. Start now, every single day.” -Debbie Millman on what it means to her to live a good life.

Is It Really Possible To Design Your Life via The Good Life Project, published April 23, 2014.

Here is a wonderful interview with Debbie Millman by Jonathan Fields of The Good Life Project. In this hour long conversation Debbie, with her characteristic honesty, intelligence and elegance, shares how she has designed her life, and attempted to create and own a sense of meaning and purpose in the process. 

– YOU CHANGE CONSTANTLY, WHETHER YOU REALIZE IT OR NOT – 

“I very very recently found diaries–I kept diaries from 1973 until 1992–and I’ve been going through them and reading them all and I realized just how low I felt and how hopeless I felt about life. It’s sort of interesting, I think as you grow as a person, as a human being, you sort of somehow think you’re still the same person, you’re just bringing all of those experiences along and yes, you’ve realized more, but you’re intrinsically the same person. And I guess, I’ve been thinking a lot about that because now that I’m in my fifties, I feel like I’m still fourteen. But then when I went back and read my journals at fourteen, or my diaries, I am definitely not fourteen and I am nothing like that fourteen year old person, nor am I like the thirty-two or forty-two year old person. But going through that is what gives you that clarity–seeing how far you’ve actually come. How there isn’t quite as much self-loathing. How there isn’t quite as much insecurity–it’s still there but it’s not the prevailing emotion.”

– DON’T GIVE UP HOPE OF GROWING INTO YOURSELF – 

“The one common denominator that I can share with anybody that feels self-loathing, or insecurity in their twenties, or thirties, or forties, or fifties, is don’t give up hope that that might not ever go away because I think it does. I’ve done about, now, two-hundred interviews, I’m close to my two-hundredth episode of Design Matters and then there’s been all sorts of live events that I’ve done over the years and then all the interviews that I’ve done for Brand Thinking and How to Think Like A Great Graphic Designer, and the one common denominator that I can share that great brand thinkers, great cultural commentators, great designers have shared with me over the years is that they all feel like they have to get up everyday and do it again. They all feel like they very well may be discovered as phonies, they very well may never ever achieve what they’d hoped. The only two people in all the years that I’ve done this that have been different in that–that have had a different experience in articulating who they are and what they believe–are Milton Glaser and Massimo Vignelli. But I think the common denominator that they share, is that they’re both in their eighties. They’re both in their eighties. I think by the time we’re eighty, we’ll be like, “ok, you know, this is who I am.” Either that or you don’t have any idea who you are. “

– YOUR HAPPINESS IS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY – 

“You have to make your own happiness, wherever you are–your job isn’t going to make you happy, your spouse isn’t going to make you happy, the weather isn’t going to make you happy, a restaurant isn’t going to make you happy. I think you have to decide what you want and you have to find that way of doing it, whether or not the outside circumstances are going to participate in your success. And for people that want to create something meaningful, if you’re not getting it at work, then do it at home. If you’re not getting it everyday in the workplace, self-generate your own work. Make what you need to do to be happy. Even if other people think it’s crap, even if other people think it’s terrible. You have to be able to create your own happiness, period.” 

– FINDING INNER COURAGE – 

“That’s why I took Milton [Glaser]’s class, it was touted as a really good class for people mid-career that wanted to shift the focus of what they were doing and sort of find their inner courage. And it changed my life, it absolutely changed my life. Where, suddenly, Milton was very very clear about defending your life, about owning your choices, about making the choices that you hold yourself to as if you had no issue with succeeding. What would you do if you weren’t afraid? What would you do if you didn’t have to worry about being successful? And he has you envision your whole life–your entire life, five years from that moment in time–if you could do anything in the world that you wanted, what would it be? And you have to own it, you have to defend it, you have to declare it. And he talked about the magic in that exercise. And how over the fifty years he’s been teaching, that this particular class was the most important class that he taught and how it transforms lives. He talked about how he’d always heard from people that that exercise, that class, was the defining moment–the before and the after–and that was what it was for me. And suddenly I had this scenario, this vision, and that is what I think has helped propel me to lead a more purposeful life.”

– BUSY IS A DECISION – 

“I’m afraid to give up stuff. I’ll take on new things and still do the old stuff. That’s become a little bit untenable […] I’m a big proponent of “busy is a decision”–you decide what you want to do and the things that are important to you and you don’t find the time to do things, you make the time to do things. And if you aren’t doing them because you are “too busy,” it’s likely it’s not as much of a priority as is what it is you’re actually doing. And that could be watching reruns of Law and Order SVU, you know, I do that all the time, but you have to own that and you have to really say, “Ok, I know that this isn’t as important to me as watching Olivia Benson get the bad guys.” I think knowing it helps.”

– REACHING THE NEXT STEP BY TAKING A LEAP OF FAITH –

“What I’ve done, because I am so afraid of giving something secure up for the unknown, is I’ve kept the secure and then taken on the unknown. You know, there’s that scene in the third installment of Indiana Jones, where Harrison Ford just takes a step–I think you have to do that. I don’t think you can achieve anything meaningful without taking it. […] I think in order to take that next step you literally have to take the step and hope the ground is beneath you.”  

-THE MAGIC OF OWNING YOUR VISION FOR YOUR LIFE –

“In that class with Milton, I made a list–I love lists–I made a list of all the things that I still dreamt that I could do or achieve or experience. And it wasn’t a bucket list, it was like twelve things and I put the list away. I finished Milton’s class and then I started to try ever so sort of elegantly, or inelegantly, to take the steps to try to get a few of those things. And once a year now I reread the essay that I wrote and then I look at the list and it’s mind-boggling because there are things on the list that I actually forgot we’re on the list and it’s scary how so many of them have become something that has manifested. And you know, Milton says it’s magic, maybe it is.”

listen & rethink …

The Truth About Creativity – A Series of Interviews with Over 30 Experts on Creativity, Innovation & Design Thinking

The Truth About Creativity - A Series of Interviews with Over 30 experts on Creativity, Innovation & Design Thinking | rethinked.org

Join David Burkus, author of The Myths of Creativity, and 30+ experts on creativity and innovation as they explore the truth about how the most creative companies and people REALLY generate great ideas.

Here’s a bit of wonderful news for all you creativity and innovation loving knowmads: there’s a free, virtual conference focused on the inner workings of creativity coming this June. The Truth About Creativity, hosted by David Burkus, features a series of curated interviews that dive into how creativity works with over thirty experts on creativity, innovation and design thinking. The content will be free from June 2nd to June 6th, just sign up and you’ll receive an email when the interviews are available to watch. The roster of interviewees is super exciting and includes some rethinked …* favorites such as Roger Martin, Scott Barry Kaufman, Teresa Amabile and Daniel Pink.

 

learn & rethink …* 

{ Education Outcomes } As Google Goes, So Goes the World?

school-of-google

In the Google economy, how relevant is a top-tier education?

This is a serious question.

This year, top-performing high-school seniors were turned away from elite colleges at record rates. Meanwhile, Google — according to some the world’s most desirable employer — has gone on record to question the value of stellar transcripts from top schools.

Like it or not, the attributes that Google seeks out in job candidates challenge some central paradigms in both K-12 and higher ed.

In two op-eds (in February and this weekend), New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman explored the factors that contribute most to employee success at Google according to Laszlo Bock, Google’s head of human resources. (No, sorry: Bock is Google’s head of “people operations“).

In case you missed Friedman’s columns — which are holding steady on the Times‘ Most Emailed list — here is a primer.

(Disclaimer: I’m not suggesting a bunch of Google metrics should be used as a benchmark against which schools are evaluated. But I am saying that what Google thinks — and goes on record to say — is important because of the company’s vast influence as a new corporate trendsetter.

rethinked...* logo

Analytical thinking is Google’s number-one hiring priority, but applicants who demonstrate both analytical and creative ability rise to the top of the pile.

One of Google’s key measures of candidates’ analytical ability is their computer science skills. Says Bock: “I’m not saying you have to be some terrific coder, but to just understand how [these] things work you have to be able to think in a formal and logical and structured way.” (And half the jobs at Google involve coding.)

Strong applicants have chosen challenging course loads and stuck with them. According to Bock, Google values the grit that it takes to earn a B in a difficult class, particularly for students accustomed to earning A’s. “Successful, bright people rarely experience failure, and so [most of them] don’t learn how to learn from that failure.”

Strong applicants also demonstrate “intellectual humility” — the willingness to defend an idea fiercely but also the ability to let go of it in the face of new information. Says Bock: ” You need a big ego and small ego in the same person at the same time.”

Strong applicants view their successes objectively by not taking them as evidence of their own genius. They also for take responsibility for failures that occur on their watch — and learn from them.

Applicants who are skilled at collaborative problem solving tend to take ownership in the work and are willing (and able) to lead others. But again, they must also have the humility to relinquish power and embrace other ideas. Says Bock: “Innovation is increasingly a group endeavor… [requiring] a lot of soft skills — leadership, humility, collaboration, adaptability and loving to learn and re-learn.” 

Mastery of two distinct disciplines is highly attractive at Google. Says Bock: “The most interesting things are happening at the intersection of two fields. To pursue that, you need expertise in both fields.”

Google is looking seriously at nontraditional talent, including people who don’t go to college at all. Says Bock: “When you look at people who don’t go to school and make their way in the world, those are exceptional human beings. And we should do everything we can to find those people.”

rethinked...* logo

So what are the factors that Google considers the least relevant? Single-area expertise, straight-A transcripts, and diplomas from elite schools.

It’s time to wake up and smell the Google.

“If You’re Just Naïve Enough To Believe You Can Do What Everybody Tells You That You Can’t, Amazing Things Can Happen”

"If You're Just Naïve Enough To Believe You Can Do What Everybody Tells You That You Can't, Amazing Things Can Happen" | rethinked.org

I’ve written about the Zen Buddhist concept of shoshin, which translates to “beginner’s mind,” several times before here on rethinked Beginner’s mind is a mental state devoid of assumptions and prejudices. Zen master Shunryu Suzuki highlighted the sense of omnipresent potential and openness that characterizes the beginner’s mind by saying: “In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few.” Mick Ebeling, founder of the fantastic Not Impossible Labs has a great article over on CNN, explaining the immense power of shoshin, which Ebeling refers to as “beautiful naiveté” to yield big ideas with tremendous impact. Below are some excerpts from Ebeling’s inspirational article. You can read the rest of the article, and view the accompanying short video here.

In each case, the experts told us that what we were doing just couldn’t be done.

Fortunately, we didn’t listen, or didn’t hear them, or ignored them, or were oblivious, or all of the above. We went ahead and tried anyway. And what do you know. It worked.

This all started when I met a graffiti artist named Tempt, who was paralyzed with ALS. I was a film producer, with no experience whatsoever in the field of technological medical devices. But when I learned how he was communicating with his family — they’d run their fingers over a piece of paper with the alphabet printed on it, he’d blink when they’d get to the letter he wanted, and, painstakingly, he’d spell out a sentence — I was moved, and angry, and a whole lot of other things. And I blurted out to his father, “We will find a way to get Tempt to paint again.”

See, I was just clueless enough not to know that that was impossible.

At one point, a group of programmers and coders told us, “If you had any clue how hard it is to do what you did, you never would have tried it in the first place.”

I’m so glad we were clueless.

*

David possesses a quality — as do the other members of the team, Dan Goodwin and Sam Bergen — that, I think, is essential to success.

We call it beautiful naïvete.

Because if you’re just naïve enough to believe you can do what everybody tells you that you can’t, amazing things can happen.

It’s just possible, in fact, that you’ll discover what each of us has discovered:

That nothing, in fact, is impossible.

Source: Naïvete is key to innovation via CNN, published April 22, 2014.

{ Drawing Machines } A Little Inspiration for Your Tuesday …*

Hiya, rethinkers * long time no blog! Here is the long-overdue drawing machines posts– I was on vacation and largely overestimated my computer/Internet access. Anyway, this concludes the trio of posts on artifacts, projects and installations that celebrate the idea of ‘chance meetings‘ or the melding of two seemingly unrelated fields, materials, and/or ideas to create something new, vibrant and thought-provoking. I hope you were inspired by some of these projects and will seize the day to create something yourself. Don’t forget to share your creations with us!

create & rethink …

– Drawings, Robots & theories on how bees fly from flower to flower –

{ Project LongarmMattias Jones }

Towards the end of 2012, as part of The Festival of the Mind in Sheffield, myself and a small team of technicians, coders and mathematicians developed a drawing system and put it to work. The robots drew one line pattern solutions, the shortest line possible, derived from theories on how bees fly from flower to flower. It ended up covering three walls and the floor of a twenty foot cube in one unbroken line.

MIND OUT: PROJECT LONGARM from elliot holbrow on Vimeo.

[Hat Tip: Driven By Bee Logic, A Robot Draws Giant Art via FastCoDesign, published January 17, 2013.]

*

– INk & Travel – 

Connecting Cross Country With A LineOlafur Eliasson }  2013

Olafur Eliasson, Connecting cross country with a line, 2013 from Studio Olafur Eliasson on Vimeo.

[Hat Tip: Olafur Eliasson: Kinetic Drawing Machine For Station to Station via Designboom, published September 13, 2013. ]

*

– Cricket, Machines & Humans –

{ Bugs Draw For Me – Harvey Moon } A Collaboration between Harvey Moon, The Drawing Machine & a cricket.

Bugs Draw For Me from Harvey Moon on Vimeo.

*

– Portraits & Analogue Machines –

{ Face-O-MatTobias Gutmann } Analogue portrait machine

“I’m a portrait machine, I’m a psychiatrist, I do plastic surgery. I’m a prophet. I see behind faces. I’m an illustrator. I am Face-o-Mat.”

Face-o-mat is Tobias Gutmann’s portrait machine that happened to travel 40’514 km, from Stockholm to Milan, Dar es Salaam, Tokyo and London. The social portrait-booth, was originally made of cardboard found in the trash, but has been upgraded to MDF to better withstand traveling. Since December 2012 Face-o-mat has produced over 700 portraits.

Face-o-mat Travels the World – 2013 from Tobias Gutmann on Vimeo.

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– 3D Printing Robots & Drawing –

{ MX3D Printing – Joris Laarman }  Drawing with steel, in mid-air.

[Hat Tip:  3D-Printing Robot by Joris Laarman Draws Freeform Metal Lines via Dezeen, published February 21, 2014. ]

*

– Time & Movement –

{ Drawing MachineEske Rex } A tool to investigate the relation between time and movement

Drawingmachine is a construction involving two pendulums, each suspended from a tower construction and connected through “drawing arms” and moveable joints. A ballpoint pen resting on a drawing surface covered with paper is mounted at the point where the pendulums come together. The pendulums are set in motion by hand, and their movements are represented on the paper. The Drawing Machine serves two purposes: On exhibitions where the movements of the pendulums affect the entire room, and the experience engages the beholder’s body. While the rhythmic repetitions cause the beholder to pause, the drawing emerges on the paper. And as a tool where investigations on the relation between time and movement.

Drawingmachine by Eske Rex from Core77 on Vimeo.

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How to think about CREATIVITY in education…* { Part 3 }

For my third installment of how to think about creativity, I will explore the questions:

1) How does creativity function with grades and assessment?

2) Is creativity always a good solution?

(see Part I and Part II for more ideas about creativity in education).

#5 ASSESSMENT AND CREATIVITY

As discussed within some of the previous ideas, creativity is comprised of multiple factors, including ways of thinking, dedication, teamwork, and interest. Therefore, any assessments of creativity or creative potential should take this into account. Rather than simply giving students a test of divergent thinking, for example, one would want to potentially assess personality variables, prior experience, and interest in the subject area.

Another interesting aspect of creativity and testing is that adding external rewards (extrinsic motivators) to a task has been shown to be detrimental to creative output. Many educators already know of the benefits of intrinsic versus extrinsic motivation in the classroom, and creative products are particularly sensitive to the type of motivation behind their inception and development.

Furthermore, people can modulate their creative focus and behaviors based on the expectations of a task. Students produce more creative work when asked to be creative, and can excel in particular ways (i.e., flexibility, originality) on divergent thinking tests if they are specifically instructed to be more flexible or original.

For educators, this research suggests reducing evaluative pressure on students and encouraging them to produce work that will not be graded. It also suggests making creativity explicit; define the concept and explain its value. Additionally, allowing students to partake in self-directed work can foster the context where they will have greater intrinsic motivation and therefore greater creative success.

#6 CREATIVITY ALONE IS NOT ENOUGH

This last powerful idea about creativity is similar to #3 Creative People Can Be Difficult. Hanson (2013) discusses the danger of creativity as a disruptive force, shaking the status quo. In addition to the ways in which creative individuals can be perceived as troublemakers and uncooperative, the uncertainty of creative work in terms of grading makes many uncomfortable in our assessment-driven education system.

Furthermore, any large-scale creative endeavor inevitably includes protocols and practiced “uncreative” components. In fact, many tasks include only a small creative component. It is important to recognize that creativity is NOT a cure-all and students will vary in their creative expression across subjects. As Hanson (2013) states, “…educators need to think of using theories of creativity to enhance good, overall education more than using education simply to produce creativity” (p33).

 

Overall, I believe that creativity is and will continue to be a valued construct in our society. It is important to understand how it functions, what kinds of environments foster it, and how it interacts with other educational efforts. However, I strongly agree with Hanson’s overarching idea: creativity research can inform better education, but we should make sure not to over-emphasize its importance or underestimate the amount of hard work and dedication that truly creative work entails. We should take efforts to identify and be encouraging of those students with passion and creative potential who may deviate from the norm and be labeled “uncooperative.” Lastly, I would urge educators to become more explicit in defining what they expect when they ask students to “be creative.”

 

References:

Hanson, M. H. (2013). CREATIVITY THEORY AND EDUCATIONAL PRACTICE: WHY ALL THE FUSS?. The Creative Imperative: School Librarians and Teachers Cultivating Curiosity Together, 19.

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