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Month March 2014

How to think about CREATIVITY in education…* { Part 2 }

In my second installment of CREATIVITY in education, I want to discuss these two perspectives on creative people- creative people can be difficult and creativity is cooperative. The first idea in particular is something that I examined in my work with first grade students studying robotics, and is an interesting perspective for teachers to use when coping with “troublemakers” in their classrooms.

#3 Creative people can be difficult

Personality-wise, stereotypes of creative individuals often refer to the “mad scientist” or crazy, eccentric artist. While the associations of creativity and mental illness are largely unsubstantiated, traits that ARE correlated with creativity include openness to new experience, ambition, self-confidence, arrogance, social hostility, impulsiveness, and lack of conscientiousness. Creative people in the arts tend to be more anxious, have more mood disorders, and are nonconforming, aloof, and unfriendly (Feist, 1999). It is important to note that these are CORRELATIONS: there is a complex causal relationship among many of these traits (in some cases the trait could lead to creativity, creative work could cause the trait, or another third variable could affect both creativity and the trait). However, imagine a child with any number of these personality characteristics. Now imagine how that child would function in a typical classroom setting.

In a 2010 book chapter, Arthur Cropley discusses the “dark side” of creativity, specifically the fact that while teachers claim to want creative students in theory, they actually dislike creative students in practice. Almost all teachers value traits such as displaying knowledge, paying attention, and working with speed and accuracy – traits that go hand-in-hand with compliance and order. Fostering creativity, however, introduces uncertainty and risk and shakes up the social order of the classroom. Creative students can be considered disruptive because of their reluctance to conform and their need for autonomy, among the other traits described above. “By its very nature, creativity involves questioning existing knowledge, doing things your own way, and being ‘difficult'” (p.311, Cropley, 2010). 

In a study I conducted last year, looking at creative problem solving skills in a first grade robotics class, I was initially shocked when I found that my most successfully creative students were some of the biggest “troublemakers” in my classroom. I believe that to truly foster creativity, as educators we need to challenge ourselves to be more comfortable with disorder, to remind ourselves that cultivating critical, independent thinkers and active learners is sometimes more important than having a constantly compliant, rule-abiding class. We need to think about some of our disruptive students as potentially highly creative individuals whose energies could be fruitful if provided the right environment and guidance.


Hanson’s (2013) fourth idea is that everyone participates in creative output. Many models of creativity look at the interaction between individuals and the cultures and authority figures of the societies in which they function. Ideas and products are successfully creative only as much as they are valued, appreciated, and used by a society. Furthermore, other researchers look at group creativity that emerges in improv groups, among jazz musicians, or even during a small business meeting.

The implications for the classroom are that already-valued 21st century learning goals such as collaboration and teamwork are also important for creativity. Additionally, I like to believe that even students who do not consider themselves “creative” can participate in the process of creation. For example, if the class is developing their own website, students can edit, spellcheck, or be project managers in addition to the more traditionally “creative” roles such as designing the layout, writing content, or taking photos to post on the site. While it is important to mix these roles up and give each student a chance to try different “jobs”, it is also highly valuable for students to understand that they can make valuable contributions to creative work in a variety of ways.


Next week I will discuss the last of Hanson’s (2013) ideas about creativity in education. Should we deploy the idea of “creativity” at all? How does creativity function with grades and assessment? Is creativity always a good solution?



Cropley, A. (2010). Creativity in the classroom: The dark side. The dark side of creativity, 297-316.

Feist, G. J. (1999). The influence of personality on artistic and scientific creativity. In R.J. Sternberg (Ed.), Handbook of Creativity (pp 273-296). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

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



{ Classcraft } What If Being In Class Was Like Taking Part In An Adventure?

 “As an eleventh grade physics teacher and web developer, I find it startling how we’re teaching our kids in much the same way that we did a hundred years ago.  In a world where we can access all the world’s information from our living rooms and are connected to hundreds of people with the touch of a button, it’s amazing that we rely on learning methods that don’t embrace collaboration. One day I was talking with one of my students and thought, ‘what if being in class was like taking part in an adventure?'” -Shawn Young

Which is where Classcraft comes in: Classcraft is a free online educational role-playing game that teachers and students play together in the classroom. Acting as a gamification layer around any existing curriculum, the game transforms the way a class is experienced, throughout the school year.

Head over to to sign up and learn more about the game, how it’s played and how it enhances students’ learning, motivation and engagement. Bonus: it’s free for this school year.

question, play & rethink …

[Hat Tip: How One Teacher Is Making High School–And Physics–Fun By Gamifying The Classroom via FastCoCreate, published March 27, 2014]

Food for Thought: Intrinsic Motivation and the Prodigy Chef

Portrait of Flynn McGarry by Peden & Munk for the New York Times

Flynn McGarry, Precocious Chef
(Peden + Munk for the New York Times)

The New York Times Magazine‘s upcoming cover story is a profile of 15-year-old chef Flynn McGarry of southern California. McGarry currently works a few nights at an LA restaurant and regularly hosts a $160-a-head at Eureka — a supper club held in his parents’ living room. Homeschooled since the seventh grade (and autodidactic for much longer), McGarry plans to skip college and open his own restaurant by the age of 19.

Looks like he will have little trouble reaching that goal.

“[At age 10], I had no clue what Michelin was,” McGarry says. “I didn’t know all of the rankings and all the food. And then once I got on Google, I was like, ‘Oh.’ That kind of opened my eyes to it.” On the Internet, he learned about molecular gastronomy, sous vide and so-called progressive cooking. “It’s, like, you go on YouTube, and you watch a Thomas Keller video, and then there’s this Grant Achatz video.” McGarry picked up proper knife techniques by watching online demonstrations; then he began experimenting with flavors and preparations. “When I was like 10, I wanted to be in a Food Network show, and then when I saw [those videos], I just fully did like a 180.”

His parents encouraged his desire to become a serious chef. When the counters in the kitchen proved too high, they made him a prep kitchen in the dining room that was modeled after Keller’s at French Laundry. When McGarry decided he wanted a private space to create menu ideas, his dad constructed a kitchen in his bedroom to resemble Alinea’s in Chicago. They redid the electricity, built the tables and removed the closet doors to convert it to a pantry; McGarry would get an induction burner for a birthday, a vacuum sealer for Christmas. When McGarry eventually visited the restaurant, he remarked, “This is what I put in my bedroom!”

The turning point, however, occurred after his 11th birthday. McGarry contracted whooping cough, and he was forced to stay home for almost three months, much of which he and his mother spent watching “Iron Chef Japan.” When he recovered, they gave a dinner party for Meg’s friends from the “Le Bernardin Cookbook.” “It was funny,” Meg recalls. “It was like a school play. Everybody applauded at the end, and he realized, ‘Oh, this is a really cool thing that I want to do.’” McGarry, who had long been bullied at school, returned to sixth grade, but during the next year, he asked his mother if he could be home-schooled in order to focus on cooking. “I was actually relieved,” says Meg, who at that point had spoken to several principals about the bullying. “I don’t want him to be unhappy. And I want him to do what he likes to do.”

The story and accompanying video are a fascinating example of how intrinsic motivation can fuel extraordinary effort, making work a labor of love.

In the video, McGarry states that he has no love lost for school. How might schools more successfully create opportunities for nontraditional learners who are nevertheless precocious, hardworking, and gritty, like this exceptional young man?

{ Sand Castles Etched On Actual Grains Of Sand } Making Reality Unknown To Question & Rethink Its Possibilities …*

“The interesting thing about projects that connect scientists and artists, I think, it comes down to the point where we feel that we are all looking for the same thing—we’re trying to understand the wold around us.” – Vik Muniz

Enjoy this wonderful video which explores the process behind photographer Vik Muniz and designer Marcelo Coelho’s sand castles drawn on actual grains of sand. Here at rethinked…* we believe in the power of transdisciplinary projects and teams to create objects, ideas and processes that have the capacity to truly make reality unknown so that we may rethink its possibilities. And this project does just that.

“When somebody tells you,”hey this is a grain of sand,” there’s this moment where the reality that you have in front of you sort of falls apart and you have to reconstruct it. You have to really take a step back and rethink what that image is and what it means.” – Marcelo Coelho


“It is a great moment to be a photographer today because photography is completely obsolete in terms of its relation to reality. We’re pretty much at this point where painting was around 1839 when photography was invented. Painting was sort of released from its relation to the factual world. Painters had to think, what is painting? In a similar fashion, the relationship between photography and reality has changed significantly with the advent of digital imaging. It’s becoming as what Leonardo mentioned as cosa mentale – it’s something from the mind, which has always been.” – Vik Muniz

delight & rethink …*

Etching Sand Castles On A Single Grain Of Sand via The Creators Project, published March 27, 2014.

What’s the one thing that you learned in the last decade that you wished someone had told you 10 years ago?

What's the one thing that you learned in the last decade that you wished someone had told you 10 years ago? |

Stikman – photograph: my own


In January 2013, Wooster Collective, which showcases and celebrates ephemeral art placed on streets in cities around the world, celebrated its tenth anniversary. In honor of that happy occasion, they ran an interview series where they asked a group of artists whom they had showcased in the beginning of their website the following question: “What’s the one thing that you learned in the last decade that you had wished someone had told you 10 years ago?”

Being an immense fan of both ‘street art’ and good questions, I was thrilled to browse the various artists’ answers. Below, are some of my favorite insights from the 10 Years of Wooster series. I’d love to hear your own answer to that question — What’s the one thing that you learned in the last decade that you had wished someone had told you 10 years ago? As for me, I need to sit on that a bit, but I sense a new post coming, stay tuned.

reflect & rethink …


“Ignore opinions, even when they favor you.” – Logan Hicks

 – – – – 

“To live and let live, to not criticize what the others do, and spend your time doing your own work and what you believe in.” – TVBOY

– – – – 

“If I have to choose between them, the one thing that I tried to follow in life, I think of the words of Mahatma Gandhi: “Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever” – Microbo

 – – – – 

“I always had the idea that you find the thing you like doing the most in life and you hook yourself to it like a mule to a cart and grind away until you reach some pinnacle…but it turns out that in the end it never arrives.  Life isn’t a mountain. The journey is the only reward.” – Mark Jenkins

 – – – – 

“Let it go” Is probably the best lesson I was given these last 10 years. The lesson was in connection to painting, but it also works in life.” – DHM

– – – – 

“I think it should be to learn to put things in perspective, see what’s really important and what’s just there to stress you out and would show up every day in a hundred ways just to ruin the day or the week.” – Calma

 – – – – 

I believe that embracing the unknown is a critical element in my work and I seek discovery as a profound influence. I am glad for all of the new stimulations as I walk down the street. But upon reflection of this topic I realized I wish someone had told me how fast the last ten years would go by. I know it is only a perception issue but the pace of change has caused time to seem like it is speeding by faster and faster with each passing year. Everything is new today and forgotten tomorrow. Everything is available twenty four hours a day and it all bleeds together like never ending mash-up. This is neither a bad nor a good thing but it does have the effect of making ten years ago seem like just yesterday. I tried to address this problem in my art in 2007 by starting a ten year Tribal/Primordial cycle of stik figures. This has allowed me to slow down my thinking and take a long view of a project instead of my usual manic approach. Each year I produce a new unique figure which I install over and over again during that calendar year. I am now in the seventh year of the cycle.” – Stikman

 – – – – 

“In that edge… Is where creation lives […] I have as many regrets as I do fond memories of the last 10 years, but the best piece of advice I’ve ever seen given by anyone is Ice T’s ‘Fuck it’ theory. ‘Fuck it’ gets you across that line. Push the limits. Take more risks.”- Mysterious Al

 – – – – 

“The one thing that I learned long time ago is to respect and be curious about what other artists do and never ever be in competition with anyone… Never being jealous or criticize the career, the decisions and the style of other artists…being sure of what you are doing or being sure about yourself and know that what you are doing is right and pure… Never make art for money but let the money come in the direction of your art and life. Struggle and fight every day about your freedom as an artist and forget about the roller coaster of emotions that life imposes to everyone.. Always be happy and instinctive about what you are doing or just stop, skin up and start again…” – Galo

 – – – – 

“I finished my Bachelor of Fine Arts in 2003. I wish someone had told me then that boredom, oil and canvas are not the only ways of making Art. ” – Vinz

– – – – 

“Seriously thats a tough one to answer, theres so much that i’ve learnt over the last 10 years, mainly through trial and error, but I guess the principal to them all is DO IT YOUR WAY, I think in many respects the early, somewhat innocent years, were the best years and in hind sight some of the lessons i’ve learnt have shown me that we had it right in those early years. Also to Live YOUR Dream and stay true to it, over a decade ago no one could have imagined where this scene would take us, the twists, turns, peaks, pitfalls and so long as when you search your heart, you’re comfortable and at ease with the decisions you’ve made then there’s really very little else that matters.” – D*Face

 – – – – 

“to not forget that DREAMS COME TRUE!” – Vómito Attack

– – – – 

“The one thing I wish someone had told me would of been; Don’t panic. Don’t worry. Just keep working. I am a natural worrywort, everything seems on the cusp of collapse. It’s difficult to impart perspective. In my formative years each project and idea appeared to be make or break. I think people probably told me, but I didn’t listen, that actually it’s a long game; the game of making art for a living and avoiding traditional employment. There are up’s and down’s and placid plateaus of inactivity and it’s completely normal. Just keep being bloody minded and focus on making great work and things will fall into place around you. I think it helps to be proactive, forward thinking, presentable, persistent and polite too, of course. The spaghetti randomness of the whims and tastes of the outside world can never be satisfactorily untangled. Just work, with glee and enthusiasm, it’s the only thing we can truly directly dictate.” – Jon Burgerman

– – – – 

“To be open to influence but ultimately don’t deviate from your aim.” – Toasters

 – – – – 

“During these years I have been told many things and in many ways, I have to say, I am very happy I did not listened to them. Often. I have been given advice and opinions on how to proceed in my career …and don’t get me wrong, I find this very useful and I’m always interested to hear other people’s experiences and advice. At the same time, keeping in mind what I was told, I have always preferred to find my way in things, and if nothing else, I’ve always had the need to try it for myself to make my own opinion. Sometimes I was wrong but I was always ready to change my point of view and it happened a few times. Many other times, however, my intuition was right and even though at the time seemed absurd and wrong, time has proved me right. Probably this has happened, thanks to the strong values ​​that were given to me by my family, good friends and my life experiences over the years. I never chose the easy way, I never made ​​choices based on money, fame and notoriety, I never believed the hype. but instead, I decided to follow my values​​, my heart and my passions trying to compromise as little as possible and stay true to my beliefs…. and Havin’ Fun! These are things that I learned a long time ago and they will stay with me for the rest of my life.” – BO130

{ Rethinking Cognition } Is Moving the Key to Deeper Thinking?

Heart Poster

What if we are meant to be moving while we are thinking?

When I was a teenager, I spent many winter weekends shoveling the snow off a very small pond in western Massachusetts so that I could ice skate. I wasn’t a particularly good skater, and because the ice was generally bumpy and scarred and hemmed in by snowbanks, I had to keep a constant eye on the ice as I moved forward. I would skate around and around on that little pond for hours in a pleasant sort of trance.

As a freshman in college, I took an introductory graphic design class that allowed only “hand work,” no computers. I vividly remember one particular assignment, a pair of posters. For one, I cut and glued a grid of thirty identical paper arrows trained on a heart. For the other, I cut and glued thirty or forty identical hearts taking a precipitous and bouncing fall. (I guess it was Valentine’s Day.) I stayed up till dawn, contentedly cutting and gluing, cutting and gluing. I was focused but relaxed. Time flew.

After college, I was introduced to Peter Elbow’s practice of “freewriting” by my Riverdale colleague David Nicholson, a veteran member of the English department. Freewriting is a 10- to 15-minute spell of writing by hand, without stopping or editing. As such, it’s useful to focus on the constant motion of the hand to ward against self-editing. For me, freewriting works like a dredger, hauling ideas from the depths of my mind.

Those simple, repetitive motions  — watchful ice skating, repeated cutting and gluing, writing by hand — required a low level of attention that seemed to draw out ideas with greater fluidity than usual. It was as if the physical activity quietly occupied the dominant region of my brain, allowing a more remote realm to emerge without obstruction.

Whether gluing pieces of paper, chopping vegetables, or mowing the lawn, repetitive motion may create a constructive form of distraction that gets us out of our own way. It might even help give rise to flow.

rethinked...* logo

I didn’t link the three experiences I describe above until I came across the research of art educator and Teachers College professor Andrea Kantrowitz. She studies the cognitive basis of drawing, in particular how the physical experience of sketching gives experienced artists access to ideas and understanding. In an 2012 article entitled “The Man behind the Curtain: What Cognitive Science Reveals about Drawing,” she examines the important place of drawing and sketching in many artists’ thought processes.

[Drawing] is a powerful tool for nonverbal inquiry, for thinking through problems and analyzing experiences. Beginning to draw, you immediately discover that you understand far less about what you see than you had assumed and that there is much more there than you had imagined. Drawing enables the drawer to see and comprehend that which is beyond words.

Could that understanding come, in part, from the physical movement drawing requires?

 […] Human thought is often continuous. Quick, gestural drawing—that is, sketching—unlike these other symbol systems, is also continuous…. As neuroscientist Vinod Goel explains, sketching is replete and dense. Its indeterminacies and gaps reflect the way we actually think through problems and provide openings for the new and unforeseen. Ambiguity is not only tolerated but cultivated by expert practitioners in order to make room for the draftsman to be surprised by her own work. 

Cognitive scientists have studied the drawing practices of experts who use rough sketches to inspire new design solutions. More than a mere aid to short-term memory, sketches are not just about lightening cognitive load, or even making new combinations. Sketches support radical restructuring of percepts and concepts, stimulating new analogies and leading the way to innovation and invention. Through disassembling and making new combinations, old sketches may generate new ideas.

This area of research draws on the theory of embodied cognition, which holds that cognition doesn’t reside exclusively in the brain but rather is the integration of brain activity and bodily experience.

As I sit and write this — not having risen, or effectively even moved, for a couple of hours — embodied cognition makes intuitive sense: we probably evolved to do our best thinking in action, not in perfect stillness. As a species we have never led less physically active lives than we do now, at least in the developed world. Think of the dozens of daily tasks that machines have largely taken out of our hands: plowing, threshing, kneading, mending, weaving, and so on. The sedentary way in which we live — and experience school, for that matter — is entirely new to our species, and it may be cutting us off from deeper thinking and ideas.

Doodling and fidgeting by certain students are increasingly tolerated by educators who understand that such habits actually help those learners concentrate. Might a limited degree of physical activity enhance the thinking of every student?

If so, how might we constructively bring movement into our thinking, particularly in schools? What physical activities would enhance students’ cognition — rather than dissipate it?

Staying With the Question When We’re Lost In the Space Between Potential Futures …*

Staying With the Question When We’re Lost In the Space Between Potential Futures ...* |

When we’re lost in the space between potential futures, it seems, we can’t help but torment ourselves with impossible questions. Our ruminations tend to focus on what we are missing, what we may or may not get, or what we fear giving up.

These days those sentiments go by the popular acronym FOMO, “Fear of Missing Out.” Back then we called it escapism. Most of us make sense of it as either cue or cowardice — either a healthy reminder to look beyond our current horizon, or a neurotic fear of commitment because there may be something better elsewhere.

Once we reduce those feelings to a binary choice, however, we become too focused on yearning and too little on learning. The preoccupation with picking the right future — whether to follow or forget the temptation to make a change — obscures the question of what the temptation may be trying to teach us.

It is often when we yearn for an answer that we stand to learn the most from staying with the question. It is neither resolution nor fulfillment that we long for in those moments, I suspect. It is desire. (We remain suspended because desire feeds on distance and possibility). If we can’t figure out which option is better then it may be worth examining what those options mean to us.” – Gianpiero Petriglieri

Source: Getting Stuck Can Help You Grow via Harvard Business Review, published February 6, 2013.

I absolutely love this quote from Associate Professor of Organisational Behaviour at INSEAD, Gianpiero Petriglieri. “It is often when we yearn for an answer that we stand to learn the most from staying with the question.” Of course this is much easier said than done. We are fragile beings after all and it is in our nature to seek comfort and avoid uncertainty. How might we learn to stay with the question? Seems a worthy question around which to organize one’s life.

question & rethink …

How to think about CREATIVITY in education…* { Part 1 }

In our modern individualist society that so values innovation, it seems obvious that we want to cultivate creativity in the educational system and to promote creative minds. However, the term “creativity” is often thrown around willy-nilly, without enough clarification of what is actually meant.

One useful definition of creativity is that it is what happens when someone does something new that is also useful, generative, or influential. However, as argued by one of my favorite professors, Dr. Michael Hanchett Hanson, creativity is an evolving concept that can be approached in a variety of ways. Researchers study how people think when they are being creative, what personality traits correlate with creativity, the importance of creativity in living a fulfilling life, the important of creativity for innovation in society, the environmental and contextual factors that relate to creative activity, and the ways in which groups or systems can cultivate creativity. All of these perspectives have some tie in to how we use this word in education.

In a 2013 book chapter, Dr. Hanson outlines six ideas for how educators should (and shouldn’t) be thinking about creativity. Today I’m going to talk about the first two ideas: what is divergent thinking and how is it useful, and the idea that creativity is actually hard work.

#1 “Divergent Thinking is not enough  — and may not even be necessary. Divergent thinking (DT) assumes that creativity is a general cognitive ability that is a “sot trait” – one that you are born with but can be enhanced through education. It can be tested (there are both written and figural versions of the measure) and your scores are based off of how many different, elaborate, and original ideas you can come up with. In the past few years, research has suggested that  students are on average scoring lower on some tests of divergent thinking (Kim, 2011), and these findings have been widely publicized as illustrating a ‘creativity crisis’ in America.

However,  DT is  really intended as a measure of creative potential, and studies of people over their lifetimes have shown mixed results between actual creative careers or accomplishments and early childhood DT scores. Also, some research shows that most of your DT score can be accounted for by IQ.

More importantly, being able to think of a lot of ideas isn’t necessarily what being creative is all about. Case study research of creative people suggests that coming up with a few good ideas is more important than being able to brainstorm 100s of crazy ones. Another issue with DT tests is that they assume that creativity is a general ability, but a lot of research suggests that it is actually very domain-specific. People who are very creative in one respect are often not at all creative in another (e.g., a poet could be terrible a math puzzles).

How does this relate to education? Going back to the so-called “creativity crisis,” Dr. Hanson believes this is likely more of a reflection of students’ decline in paper-and-pencil drawing tasks due to the increase in technology in education. Furthermore, DT has such weak links to actual creative acts that these score changes are likely not indicative of anything.

However, Dr. Hanson suggests that using DT-like activities such as brainstorming can be useful in the classroom. While students’ abilities on these tasks are not necessarily reflective of creativity and studies show that brainstorming usually provided no more good ideas than individual would on their own, the act of group brainstorming introduces students to useful learning strategies, produces collaboration, and allows for new ways of thinking about a problem.

Personally, this research was interesting since the design thinking process places such an emphasis on ideation, which is largely a DT task. I think the important take home is that merely coming up with a ton of zany ideas is not enough, it is following through on a good idea and seeing it to fruition that is truly indicative of creativity.

#2 Creativity is Work

As discussed above, creativity cannot be reduced to scores on a test of divergent thinking. The second perspective on creativity is that it involves hard work and commitment. Creative people organize their entire lives around long term creative purposes, and creative work occurs only after a certain level of expertise has been achieved.

Conductor at Baltimore Symphony Orchestra – Maria Schweitzer

Dr. Hanson considers this an “in-the-box” perspective, and this is an important distinction to make. While layperson understanding of creativity often talks about thinking “outside the box”, a lot of research on creativity actually finds that creative thinking is really inside the box, at least for the person coming up with the idea. Divergent thinking research is about coming up with flashy new ideas, but in actuality, we find that people who are doing truly creative work (remember this means that is is both novel AND useful/influential/generative) are spending years developing expertise and cultivating lives that surround their creative interests. The “big creative insight” is often a somewhat logical conclusion for a creative person, that occurs through a combination of long-term observation and the unique perspective of that person’s skills and expertise.

This view of creativity prescribes student-centered, more open-ended classroom activities, and therefore meshes very well with constructivist pedagogy (education based on the premise that students are active meaning makers). Lessons and activities that teach students how to think and cultivate metacognition will help students develop the skills necessary to develop long-lasting commitments to creative endeavors. Allowing students choice in WHAT they are studying will help them find their passions and develop expertise.


There is far more to say about creativity, and I look forward to sharing additional perspectives with you. Stay tuned for next week’s post where I will discuss how creative people can be difficult (especially when trying to maintain order in the classroom) and about the ways in which a community can collaboratively foster creativity.



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

Kim, K. H. (2011). The creativity crisis: The decrease in creative thinking scors on the Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking. Creativity Research Journal, 23 (4), 285-295.



{ The Science of Character } Character Strengths Can Be Learned, Practiced & Cultivated …*

This whole idea about developing our character really took shape in 2004, when two psychologists suggested that instead of just focusing on all the things that can go wrong with us, it’s also important to celebrate all the things that can go right. You see, they looked throughout history to identify core virtues that humans across cultures have agreed lead to a meaningful life. And then they identified 24 character strengths that when practiced and developed could lead to these virtues.”


{ The Science of Character } Character Strengths Can Be Learned, Practiced & Cultivated ...* |

Periodic Table of Character Strengths via


Hope everyone found a way to celebrate yesterday’s International Day of Happiness. Some of you might have also been celebrating Character Day, which was organized by Tiffany Shlain and her team for the premiere of their short film, The Science of Character.

The Science of Character is an 8 minute film that explores the neuroscience and social science behind character development and our ability to shape who we are. 

The film is available in Arabic, German, French, Hindi, Russian, Spanish, Swahili, Chinese and was shown at over 1500 screenings happening all over the world (in over 40 countries and all 50 states). Also, fun rethinked …* fact– our own Dominic Randolph was an advisor for the film. Be sure to check out the resources over on to learn more about character strengths and the research behind them. Teachers, you’ll be pleased to discover discussion guides for elementary, middle, and high school students to further discuss character in your classrooms.

Did you do anything special to celebrate Character Day? How did it go? What did you learn? Let us know.

rethink & grow …* 

“There are a lot of exciting conversations happening about character, one that I find interesting is that there are seven strengths in particular that can be real game-changers in academic achievement, success and happiness no matter what your circumstances. Those seven are: optimism, gratitude, social intelligence, curiosity, self-control, enthusiasm and perseverance, also known as grit. While there have been many different theories about character throughout history, what scientists in this field agree on is that character matters and that character strengths can be learned, practiced and cultivated ”  

The Science of Character via Tiffany Shlain & The Moxie Institute Films‘s YouTube Chanel, published March 20, 2014.

Watch your thoughts: they become words

Watch your words: they become actions

Watch your actions: they become habits

Watch your habits: they become your character

Watch your charater: it becomes your destiny

-Frank Outlaw

{ Happy International Day of Happiness …* } HMW Ensure That Happiness Is A Fundamental Human Goal?

{ Happy International Day of Happiness ...* } HMW Ensure That Happiness Is A Fundamental Human Goal? | - photograph: Elsa Fridman

Happiness may have different meanings for different people. But we can all agree that it means working to end conflict, poverty and other unfortunate conditions in which so many of our fellow human beings live.

Happiness is neither a frivolity nor a luxury. It is a deep-seated yearning shared by all members of the human family. It should be denied to no-one and available to all. This aspiration is implicit in the pledge of the United Nations Charter to promote peace, justice, human rights, social progress and improved standards of life. from Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon’s Message for International Day of Happiness 2014

Today, March 20th, is the second annual International Day of Happiness declared by the United Nations:

The General Assembly of the United Nations in its resolution 66/281PDF documentof 12 July 2012 proclaimed 20 March the International Day of Happiness recognizing the relevance of happiness and well-being as universal goals and aspirations in the lives of human beings around the world and the importance of their recognition in public policy objectives. (via

What a splendid design challenge, to make happiness a fundamental human goal. Obviously, happiness means a lot of different things to a lot of different people and goal-setting can take many forms. So here are some things I’ll be thinking about today:

  • How do you define happiness?
  • What does it mean to you, as an individual, to make happiness a ‘fundamental human goal’?
  • How might we design more opportunities for happiness into our every day?
  • How might we create/facilitate happiness for others?
  • What is one thing you’ll do today to make yourself happy?
  • What is one thing you’ll do today to make someone else happy?

Would love to hear your thoughts and insights in the comments section below!

rethink & spread happiness …* 

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