Thursday, April 28, 2011

Does Grassroots Creativity Education Need Nourishment?

Written by Graduate Student Dana Calanan
Here’s a familiar scene for a budding creativity specialist. You’re at a party and small talk is the mainstay. Upon introducing yourself, your new acquaintance asks that time-honored question -- “So, what do you do for a living?” How do you respond? As a new creativity expert, I reply, “I’m in graduate school in Creative Studies.” At first, their quizzical stares intimidate me as I fumble for the words to explain myself. I begin with a simple definition that supports the field’s credibility, “It’s the psychology behind creative thinking or behavior.” The head tilt becomes a little less severe, but I can tell they still need more information. So then I say, “We do creative problem solving, or come up with ideas for innovation.” Usually they seem to vaguely understand by this point. However, there are times when all I can connect with them on is the term originated by Alex Obsorn – Brainstorming (1953).

Brainstorming, the well-known technique used in idea generation, is often mistaken for the act of creative problem solving. This is one of the many misconceptions regarding creativity. Another myth that hinders creative behavior is the belief that is reserved only for special people or endeavors. (Richards, 2007, p. 25). At the International Center for Studies in Creativity (ICSC) at Buffalo State College (BSC), myth busting is happening through awareness and a solid education. The department has instituted a fairly new vision: “Igniting creativity around the world: Facilitating the recognition of creative thinking as an essential life skill” (International Center for Studies in Creativity, n.d.).

We have all been affected in various ways by the ongoing global changes. Now more than ever, the need for creativity combined with community is at an all-time high. Half a later and Osborn’s words still ring true, “…there is a crying need for more creative thinking” (1953, p. 5).

Alex Osborn’s book, Applied Imagination (1953), brought the concept of creative thinking into the light and since then it has spawned a field of research that continues to be controversial. Due to the nature of the topic, it lends itself to being subjective and ambiguous, even in the eyes of its researchers. Many theories and models exist regarding the phenomena and it has had a long journey in gaining recognition and credibility among academics. Is it any wonder that one gets puzzling looks when trying to explain it to the average person?

I have sat through many thought-provoking and insightful lectures regarding creativity. In the application of creative thinking, I’ve noticed that despite the importance stressed on creativity’s benefit in everyday living, much of the content is geared toward organizations, leadership and formal education, primarily the education of children. (Personal observation, 2010, 2011). This made me wonder if the outreach for creativity education was actually trickling down to a grassroots level. That is, has the average person been exposed to the basics of creativity and if yes, how well? Utilizing social media to solicit responses, I created a quick survey to further examine my questions.

A Quick Creativity Survey
Upon reviewing the most common myths surrounding creativity, I posed eight simple yes or no questions, as well as one that was open-ended. It was entitled A Quick Creativity Survey and those who participated provided their answers anonymously. To my surprise, the reaction was incredible - - within approximately an hour, more than 50 responses had been collected and
the numbers continued to rise. The sample group of consisted of 211 people. The survey indicated interesting results as seen in Figure 1. The most standout observation was that 98% of the respondents believe that creativity was important in daily life, and 75% were interested in learning more.

Another misconception surfaced when 40% of those polled believed that Brainstorming and Creative Problem Solving (CPS) were the same thing. Similarly, 41% also thought creativity and innovation were the same -- despite the fact that 39% said they have had some education in creative studies. A limitation of my quick survey was that my populace was not thoroughly investigated. Therefore, generalizability cannot be established. A prime example of a question worth examining further regards creative studies education – what was learned and where was this education procured? More information would certainly affect the future results.

Fig. 1. A Quick Creativity Survey. Developed by Dana Calanan, 2011.

Why Explain Creativity?
Explaining creativity is necessary for the acceptance of its use by an individual. Due to societal norms, creativity generally dissipates soon after childhood and most of us have experienced creativity as something frivolous and “artsy.” This alone is a reason to take the time to explain creativity to the layperson. They too can experience that, “it [creativity] is something we can all tap into, and it is possible that creativity has its greatest impact on a personal level” (Swahn & Svahn, 2008, p. 3).

Public Creativity Education Outreach
From sitcoms to annual reports, the words: create, creativity, imagination and innovation and various forms of similar phrases are more and more seeping into the public’s consciousness. But are the theories or even the definitions behind these buzz words being fully understood? It appears that the terms are being used in ways that liken them to the latest fad or gadget. My research suggests that there is a need for some clarification. Despite the numerous sites dedicated to the encouragement of being creative, those geared toward teaching the fundamentals of creative behavior and thinking on a public level are hard to find.

Until recently, BSC offered the only accredited Master’s program in the entire world. However, more academically based programs are beginning to surface elsewhere. As of 2010, there were 54 known curriculums worldwide (Yudess, p. 139). The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) – a specialized United Nations agency that rewards creativity – now lists on their website -- -- only eleven recognized programs in the world that offer Creativity outreach aimed at the general public. Interestingly, the United States is represented by only by the National Inventors Hall of Fame. To me, this fact seems to add to another common myth of creativity – that it is reserved only for geniuses.

There is a great deal of research regarding everyday creativity as well as creative behavior in many other aspects of life. My view, now from both an academic and a pop culture perspective, is that the public is hearing words and phrases, but have not been given the foundational thinking behind them. The ICSC appears to be addressing this issue based on one of the Big Hairy Audacious Goals: “We aim to extract the fundamental principles taught in our curriculum and to incorporate them into public programs that will be available to learners throughout the world interested in developing their creativity” (International Center for Studies in Creativity, n.d.).

Though my survey may not be substantial in its methods, it has revealed a niche -- creativity education on a grassroots level. The impact of such an outreach regarding the basics of creative studies could positively affect the quality of life for many people. Explaining creativity “… will lead to a more creative society, and will enhance the creative potential of our families, our workplaces, and our institutions” (Sawyer, 2006, p. 5). More research is needed to support a hypothesis for this paper, but there seems to be a short in the circuit between creativity research and the very people with whom they are trying to connect.

The influence that creative thinking has on one’s life is not in question. It has been established that it is vital to our growth and can be taught. The real question is whether or not it is being cultivated by and with the general public. While the lines of communication are open -- creativity buzz words are seen and heard nearly everywhere -- sometimes you have to bring the
learning more directly to the people. The conditions are ripe for this to happen now and there is a definite need for developing self-sustainability in individuals, and in turn society.

I believe the field of creativity has the perfect opportunity to harness the interest that has already been piqued by marketing giants and the burgeoning list of creativity experts. Parnes (1992) wrote “…people who care about creative ability in others, can learn to better understand and tap their own creative potential, as well as nurture it more fully in individuals and groups about whom they care” (p. 145). I invite those with the expertise to impart the fundamentals of creativity to the general public, to do so now.

Ms. Calanan has a BS in Fashion from SUNY @Buffalo State. She has been a clothier and entrepreneur, having owned both a vintage & consignment clothing boutique. Dana also worked extensively in theatrical costuming and most recently left her career on Broadway to pursue other interests. This has serendipitously led her to the International Center for Studies in Creativity. Dana’s curiosities are vast, but passions lie in aesthetics, parapsychology, self-healing and violence awareness.


International Center for Studies in Creativity. (n.d.). Mission and vision. Retrieved from
International Center for Studies in Creativity. (n.d.). Big hairy audacious goals. Retrieved from
Osborn, A. (1953). Applied Imagination: Principles and procedures of creative thinking.
New York, NY: Charles Scribner’s Sons.
Parnes, S. J. (Ed.). (1992). Creative Problem-Solving and visionizing. In Source book for
Creative Problem Solving: A fifty year digest of proven innovation processes. Buffalo, NY:
Creative Education Foundation Press.
Richards, R. (Ed.). (2007). Everyday creativity and new views of human nature:
Psychological, social, and spiritual perspectives. Washington, D.C.: American
Psychological Association.
Sawyer, R. K. (2006). Explaining creativity: The science of human innovation. New
York, NY: Oxford University Press.
Swahn, A. L. & Svahn, S. (2008). Creativity: A science-based outlook on life and work.
Bloomington, IN: AuthorHouse.
World International Property Organization. (n.d.). Creativity and innovation: Outreach
aimed at the general public. Retrieved from
Yudess, J. (2010). Colleges and universities with degree or certificate bearing programs in
Creativity. Journal of Creative Behavior, 44(2), pp. 140 – 142.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

How to teach Creativity Creatively

Written by Graduate Student Marta Ockuly
“I am not a teacher, but an awakener.”-Robert Frost
For 100 Creative Teaching and Learning Quotes click here

Dr. Shelley Carson, author of Your Creative Brain, teaches a popular creativity course at Harvard University. Her cutting-edge research backs up the assertion “…enhancing creativity is not only for enrichment; it’s a vital resource for meeting the challenges and dangers, as well as the opportunities, of the accelerated-change climate of the twenty-first century” (2010, p. 4). In Out of Our Minds: Learning to be Creative (2011), Sir Ken Robinson suggests the need for creative education is critical to our survival: “In a world where lifelong employment in the same job is a thing of the past, creativity is not a luxury. It is essential for personal security and fulfillment” (p. 13). Dr. Susan Keller-Mathers, Associate Professor, International Center for Studies in Creativity at Buffalo State College of New York (ICSC) adds this call to action, “The recognition of the urgent need for creativity and problem solving skills, the understanding that you must embrace creative learning for yourself first and that creativity cannot be left to chance is central” (In press, p. 1). New technologies have changed the nature of the workplace. Traditional career paths are growing obsolete. The education system as it stands today has failed to prepare students for the challenges which lie ahead. The time has come to take creativity training mainstream. Adults concerned with building creative strengths to be competitive in the workforce stand to benefit greatly from learning creative thinking strategies for problem solving and solution finding. It is time for every student (in or out of school) to develop the skills needed to become a creative change agent in his/her life.

My big idea is using social media and cost effective technologies to guide ‘new creative learners’ through a highly individualized series of undergraduate level creative thinking courses in classroom settings as well as virtual, on-line environments. In Education for Creative Potential, (2003), Mark Runco suggests: “…an optimal curriculum or assignment can only be defined for an individual and not for a group” (p. 321). Imagine the advantage of customizing curriculums to a student’s optimal learning style? By incorporating personalized e-mail encouragement and coaching, giving students 24/7 access their individualized lessons and assignments via a course blog, incorporating collaborative assignments requiring community involvement, and facilitating nature-based physical play, brain-building movement, and personal passion-focused projects which culminate in creative products, we can set people up for true 21st century success. We are living in a world full of untapped creative potential. When considering who needs to learn creative thinking strategies, my vision echo’s Robinson’s, “Everyone has huge creative capacities. The challenge is to develop them. A culture of creativity has to involve everybody, not just a select few” (p. 3). The focus of this paper is identifying elements which will enhance the design and delivery of: Creative Process and Creative Thinking Skills, the course I’ll be teaching undergraduate adult learners at Eckerd College this summer.

Dr. Cyndi Burnett, an assistant professor at ICSC, has partnered with KnowInnovation, LTD, to design an on-line course titled: Putting Ideas into Action which delivers Creative Problem Solving (CPS) training in short, (under ten minute) modules. Their approach is highly experiential and includes a comprehensive course guide and workbook and participant forums. I have no doubt this transformational, research-based creativity training will offer my students a valuable framework for core CPS skills. My plan is to use it in lieu of a course text and enhance the training with in-class practice sessions and community service project applications.
Additional elements I plan to integrate into my new course include:
• Helping each student identify his/her creative passion(s)
• Reading/research assignments related to the creative brain and basic neuroscience
• Raising awareness of every day creativity
• Encouraging exploration of multiple forms of creative expression
• Students keeping mindfulness journals & recording ideas, intuition and inspiration
• Incorporating brain-building movement into classes, play and projects

I believe each of these objectives offers the added advantage of stimulating new neural pathways while encouraging personally meaningful expressive paths to both creative action and personal growth. Determining what a person loves to do and uncovering his/her special interests and talents can provide clues to hidden creative strengths. This process invites exploration. When a person connects the idea of pursuing their passion with developing creativity, both energy and motivation increase dramatically.

Success is stimulated when students can find ways to physically play with their interests and problems/challenges. Biologist Carla Hannaford points out, “Play provides the emotional spark which activates our attention, problem solving, and behavior response systems so we gain the skills necessary for cooperation, co-creativity, altruism and understanding” (p. 72). Play also offers a safe release valve for emotions. According to Hannaford, “Self-initiated movement, exploration, interaction and physical experience for the joy and challenge of it, facilitates neurogenesis (nerve growth) for a lifetime” (p. 22). Our life experiences build our neural networks. Most people assume thinking and learning happens in our heads, when, in fact, movement and our senses are doing the bulk of the work (Hannaford, 2005). Another area educators are wise to explore has to do with focus. Biologist Hannaford warns, “Neural connections can be altered and grown only if there is full attention, and focused interest on what we do. In three weeks we can get ten times more proficient at anything if we are emotionally engaged with focused interest” (p. 22). So how can focus be cultivated? One pathway is spending less time on the computer, watching television, or playing video games. I have also been exploring the benefits of using Brain Sync© tapes which apply brain wave technology to stimulate focused states. I am interested in using this technology in the classroom, along with encouraging students to play with Play Doh© while I talk. Hannaford’s college students have reported the act of manipulating clay while in class helps them retain more information from lectures. This educator affirms, “Whenever touch is combined with the other senses, much more of the brain is activated, thus building more complex nerve networks and tapping into more learning potential” (Hannaford, p. 47). No class session will be complete without expressive movement in the form of dance, playful (physical) warm-ups, Brain Gym© exercises, and laughter (probably generated by the yoga lion pose).

When we do something new, we grow new connections. In order to awaken creative possibilities and potential in others, a teacher must understand his/her own creative strengths. Creativity is woven throughout my days. From my morning meditation to jotting down ideas and creative insights as they appear, I feel enthused about the future. The more I learn about the benefits of movement on brain development, the more I dance through my days. As a teacher, I have many stories to share regarding creative learning and staying open to new experiences. My most recent creative awakenings have been stimulated from creating a series of weekly blog posts. My intention was to offer people keys to unlocking creative potential through social media (Twitter, my blog and Facebook). This experience has opened me up to new pathways of artful expression and an exciting job opportunity.

As a creative learner and self-confessed encourager, I have given some thought to grading structure for use in my first formal teaching position. I was delighted to discover a wonderfully affirming (and creative) idea shared by Benjamin Zander (2000), conductor of the Boston Philharmonic. He believes in the potential of his student musicians so highly he makes it his practice to give all A’s. Zander announces his intention the first day of class with one caveat: each student must write him a personal letter dated the last day of the semester, stating all the reasons they earned their A. This requires each student to visualize the future. They must start their letter, “Dear Mr. Zander, I got my A because…” and continue without using the words “I hope” or I will”. Only positive declarative statements will be accepted. What Zander really wants is each student to write a love letter to his or her future self. This act of vividly imagining all they accomplished to earn their A, actually aligns them with their goal. This type of inspirational teaching style has many benefits for students of creativity. The first is setting expectations high for creative accomplishment. Knowing the instructor has complete faith in your abilities builds confidence. Third, the student is relieved of the stress associated worrying about grades - (Hear that students – you have nothing to fear here as long as you step into your full potential as a creative being!).

It is truly time for every man, woman and child in the world to know, without a shadow of a doubt, they are creative. One approach is to ask groups and individuals, “How are you creative?” rather than “Are you creative?” The first question starts a conversation, the second prematurely ends it. Creative conversations we initiate can lead to empowering shifts in awareness. I believe teaching creativity creatively has the power to positively change lives and our collective future. It’s time to get started!

Marta Davidovich Ockuly is a Master of Science in Creativity degree candidate at the International Center for Studies in Creativity at Buffalo State College in Buffalo, New York. She is an award-winning creativity professional who consults with businesses and individuals seeking increased creativity and positive change. Marta’s other passion is activating creative potential with joy as a certified professional coach. Her website: is a popular source of positively encouraging quotes and coaching tips. She earned her undergraduate degree in Human Development and Counseling (Eckerd College, 2005) with High Honors while undergoing treatment for AML (leukemia). Contact Marta through, or

Carson, S. (2010). Your creative brain: Steps to maximize imagination, productivity, and innovation in your life. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass/Harvard Medical School.

Hannaford, C. (2005). Smart moves: Why learning is not all in your head. Salt Lake City, Utah: Great River Books.

Keller-Mathers, S. (In press). Building passion and potential for creative learning in higher `education. In A. Wright, M. Wilson, & D. Maclsaac (Eds.), Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education Collected Essays on Learning and Teaching. Windsor, ON.

Robinson, K. (2011). Out of our minds: Learning to be creative. West Sussex, United Kingdom: Capstone Publishing.

Runco, M.A. (2003). Education for creative potential. Scandinavian Journal of Educational Research, 47(3), 317-324.

Zander, R.S. & Zander, B. (2000). The art of possibility: Transforming professional and personal life. NY: Penguin Books/Harvard Business School Press.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Are today’s students less creative?

Written by Graduate Student Morgan Milovich

For this assignment I chose to write about my beliefs surrounding the question “Are today’s students less creative?”, as my interest in creativity studies surrounds education. When I began the research on this topic, I was sure I knew exactly what I felt, that my beliefs were steadfast. But as I continued, I realized that in fact, I did not have all of the information I needed to make a real argument for it. Eventually, my perspective shifted and as I am writing this now, I have done a complete 180° in my thinking and have rooted out the main reason I felt so strong in my convictions previously.

Are today’s students less creative?
In my personal opinion, no, they are not less creative, they just have less opportunity to be creative thinkers because of the educational system we have in place and the culture we live in today. That begin said, I feel that it is the educations responsibility to make a drastic change in its mode of delivering creative problem solving skills to our youth.

It is a sad fact that over utilized standardized testing models teach students that there is only one right answer and only one path to it. I think even sadder yet, is that the teachers of these students are the ones, in most cases, who are instilling this belief in them. Increasing pressures on teachers to have students that perform well on exams have taken a lot of the creative thinking out of the classroom, teachers simply do not think they have the time to teach creatively. Administrators further this theory and its relevance when they place importance on ranking, school funding and district housing prices, which all have a direct correlation to performance on state and nationwide tests.

Inside the classroom, on the ground floor
Due to the pressures put on American teachers in our current educational system, teachers do not feel that they have time to incorporate creativity into their lessons. Honestly, I do not think they understand how to incorporate creativity, additionally that they have some serious misconceptions about what it means to teach creative problem solving skills. Creativity is not a skill that most teacher prepatory programs teach their students, instead if is often just the rote skills of being a teacher (THIS is how you write a lesson plan, THIS is how you teach multiplication). In an interview I did recently with Dr. Bonnie Cramond of UGA, I asked her what she felt was the most important nugget of information she would give to new teachers going out into the field, this was her response:

“I would like new teachers to understand the difference between teaching creatively and teaching for creativity. I see many new teachers doing creative things in their classrooms, but they are not asking the students to be creative. There is room for both, but I would like to see teachers doing more of the latter" (M. Milovich, personal communication, April 5, 2011).

Another unfortunate misconception by teachers is that creativity is meant for art alone in the curriculum, that it has no place in the traditional classroom setting. Runco calls this the art bias:

“which occurs when an educator (or parent, or anyone) equates creative potential with artistic talent. Certainly the arts are unambiguously creative, but creativity is also apparent in many other domains, both formal and informal. If this is overlooked and creativity presumed to occur only in the arts, children who are not artistically talented are deemed uncreative.” (Runco, 2008, p. 98).

This art bias has a range of unfortunate consequences, from students’ self- conception of what creativity is to the perceptions that are formed in their minds by a teacher’s negative response to creativity. In my own experience teaching I ran into more than a few teachers who held the belief that the only place for creativity was the art room, and treated my student and my chosen profession, as an art teacher, as second rate. At one point going so far as to verbally cut down a extremely talented art student I had in his Trigonometry class, in front of the whole class, calling him a “dope smoking art fag” the math teacher then adding, “you should be less creative with trying to make bongs out of everything and spend sometime on your math work.” How are our impressionable youths supposed to take such a verbal assault on a classmate? How do they process that? How does it affect their own thinking about what creativity is? Obviously I was appalled by this, but I am still deeply saddened by the fact that all of those students in that room experienced a teacher cutting down, what he sensed was, creativity.

An example of creativity working in education

I purport that the integration of creativity into set curriculum, even one concentrating on state and national standards is much easier than most teachers can imagine. Standards are just the end goal of what the student should know, there are no standard practices that must be followed in order to get to that end. That is the place where a teacher should step up, make the lesson itself engaging so the student will experience and synthesis the information rather than just remember it for the time being and forget it after the exam. Sadly, a good portion of teachers really believe that there is only one way, much like the exams they are prepping the kids for. They believe that what they were taught in college on how to teach a subject is the best and only way, even though differentiating their instruction to meet all learners is what they should be doing.

Creative problem solving skills taught in the curriculum can work; take for example the National Inventors Hall of Fame School in Akron, Ohio’s teachers who emphasized project-based learning for almost ¾ of the school day. The emphasis is on creative problem solving being woven into the state required curriculum, led by Principal Traci Buckner.

“Mindful of Ohio’s curriculum requirements, the school’s teachers came up with a project for the fifth graders: figure out how to reduce the noise in the library. Its windows faced a public space and, even when closed, let through too much noise. The students had four weeks to design proposals."

This project based learning had amazing results, totally embedded with creative problem solving skills. The students not only came up with a workable solution, but they:

“unwittingly mastered Ohio’s required fifth-grade curriculum—from understanding sound waves to per-unit cost calculations to the art of persuasive writing.”

As an amazing bonus, the school was ranked as one of the top three schools in the area based on state achievement tests! This is not a upper-class, suburban school we are talking about with exorbitant budgets and the cream of the crop student population. We are talking about an inner-city urban setting, with a significant proportion of students living below the poverty line, in its first year being open. That kind of success is awe inspiring and proves that creativity in the classroom works, and works well.

My beliefs on how to foster creativity our youth today

I truly believe that there needs to be a cultural shift in the understanding of creativity. For creativity to be valued, beyond the lip service it gets from speeches by business heads, school administrators and even President Obama, we need to look at our culture first and our cultures educational imperatives second. In the book chapter “Early childhood interests: Seeds of adult creativity” Cohen and Gelbrich stated:

One’s culture is like a sieve or selection mechanism- only those talents and interests that are considered worthwhile will be supported and enhanced” (Cohen, Gelbrich, 1999, p 162).

When I read that passage I realized that YES! they just hit the nail on the head with that! Now, it is up to us to make creativity in our culture “worthwhile”, but more importantly it is up to each individual in this class to play a role in changing the cultural paradigms we live under today.

This could be as simple as giving your children toys that encourage their imaginative skills, engaging in a conversation over the water cooler at work about creativity and your point of view or encouraging others to engage in play or even new experiences. Who knows where all of these simple actions might go, what they might lead to and how it might change our culture, it could truly be the butterfly effect in action. You talking to a colleague at work could lead to them going home, cooking dinner as a family unit, turning off the TV and playing scrabble with their kids, which lead to their teenager pursue interests in cooking, and their middle schooler writing a poem for English about the emotions they felt spending time with their parents, which leads their teacher to make changes in her life, and so on and so on. When you have a paradigm shift in the culture, education is sure to follow.

When I first began the research for this paper, I really did think that students were less creative. I came to realize that it is not that students are less creative, it is the culture that they are being brought up in that is less appreciative of creativity.

So I challenge all of you, this upcoming Creativity and Innovation Week to truly try to spread the importance of creativity in our culture. You do not need to tout all of the educational importances, facts and figure… instead speak from your heart about why it is so imperative to embrace creativity, in whatever way you see fit. Again, in my interview with Dr. Bonnie Cramond, I asked her how to convince teachers of the importance of creativity in the classroom, but I think her response could work equally as well in any framework:

“I wish they could see that we can’t prepare students for the world of the future through knowledge consumption; they have to learn to be knowledge producers. But none of this will convince someone who hasn’t experienced the spark of creative learning herself or himself. So, maybe the best way to convince them is to teach them something that requires them to be creative and something that is rote and see what they remember” (M. Milovich, personal communication, April 5, 2011).

So go out there and teach the people around you (in any sense of the word teach!) something creatively, it could change our culture.


Bronson, P. & Merryman, A. (2010). The creativity crisis. Newsweek. Retrieved from

Cohen, L.M. & Gelbrich, J.A. (1999). Early childhood interests: Seeds of adult creativity. In Fishkin, A.S., Cramond, B. & Olszewski-Kubilius, P. (Eds.) Investigating creativity in youth: Research and methods. (pp 147-177). Cresskill, NJ: Hampton Press.

Cramond, B. (2003). Creativity is the most important thing we can teach our children in the new millennium [PowerPoint slides]. Retrieved from

Hagen, C. (2011). Are your kids creatively FKD? The Denver Egotist. February 14. Retrieved from

Kim, K. H., Cramond, B. & Vantassel-Baska, J. (2010). The relationship between creativity and intelligence. In Sternberg, R.J. & Kaufman, J. (Eds.), The Cambridge Handbook of Creativity (pp. 395-412). New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.

Naiman, L. (2010). Is America suffering from a creativity crisis? Creativity at work newsletter, August 11. Retrieved from

Runco, M.A. (2008). Creativity and Education. New Horizons in Education, 56(1), 96-104.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Last of the Creativity Week Website Links!

Courtesy of Darcey Pawlewski, a student in CRS 594 Creative Teaching & Learning Course:

For Educators:

1. Teaching thinking and creativity:
This website is actually from a paper written in 2006 but it does include a description on the author’s point of view what creativity is and his view of the benefits of creativity. Included in this webpage are various activities which can be utilized in the classroom with young children. This is an exciting discovery for me because the activities are readily available to be used and do not need to be modified.

2. National Network for Child Care:
This website is a source for people to use on-line to share information and resources about children with one another. This particular article talks about the importance of creativity in the child’s life and some tips for how to introduce creativity to children. Although this particular article is not extremely evident to have a strong creativity background I feel that the main home web site as a whole could be beneficial in conducting research or staying up to date on information.

3. Introduction to Creative Thinking
What a great way to possibly introduce someone to creative thinking! This educator of over 25 years created a website to discuss creative thinking, what it is, how to help facilitate creative thinking and even touches on creative problem solving. The author also has links to other creativity related websites.

4. Gifted and Creative Services Australia
This center is located in Australia but it has information about and for children, parents, and adults. The web page gives the viewer opportunity to see other resources and articles on the creativity and gifted topics. Visual thinking is also a major portion of the webpage. Some of the useful links include resources on disabilities as well as links to informational resources such as the ERIC database.

For Children:
1. The Comic Book Project
You can visit this website if you are interested in teaching and reinforcing literacy in a new and exciting way! Kids can create their own comic books to show their understanding of a given topic or theme. The theme for this year is “History Goes Comic!”. Students can work in groups and teachers can purchase a classroom set for 25 students. The price is $199.

1. Teaching Thinking and Creativity
This is a magazine that you can subscribe to (originates in Birmingham) but would be a great resource to anyone who has to do with education. This web site not only offers resources such as magazines or journals but also gives technological resources and web based resources also! This is just a great resource chalk full of many different wonderful resources!

2. WOW! The Bay Area Discovery Museum
This amazing museum is just amazing! There are many different activities that you can do with your family at the large museum! Children are able to learn through discovery and exploration and there are also programs set up to attend.

Creativity Website links

Courtesy of Josh Mahaney, a student in CRS 594 Creative Teaching & Learning Course:

Reddit is a social news website. Users who register on this site have the ability to upvote or downvote a story that is submitted by any other user. The users also have the ability to submit stories of their choice. Based on how high a news story has been upvoted it will be ranked, and more likely to be closer or on the front page of the website. Basically, the highest voted submitted story at the time will be on the front page as long as it is being continuously upvoted, and based on those votes will be the order of the submissions. Usually creativity is awarded by a larger number of user upvotes if the submission has some creative element. By my estimate, most submissions have a creative aspect, even if its a submission of a news story and only the title needs some kind of creative manipulation.

Ted talks is a website that hosts a variety of talks on a number of subjects. Some subjects or things presented in the talks are newly invented products or ideas, so these videos and website are a forum for creative people to present their own creative contribution. There are a few talks on creativity itself.
Autodesk is a software application meant for those in any kind of design field. It creates physical models in virtual space and other kinds of constructs that are for those trying to innovate with new products. I first heard about this website and companion software programs on MIT's Technology Review titled "Design Fundamentals" with the subtitle "Tools and techniques to foster innovation" here: The link provided introduces the programs mentioning design often, and in some cases using the term
"design" can be swapped with "creativity". Those creating creative products that use this software find it useful and it is the standard among many engineering firms.
I first heard about the creators project when I read a news release from Intel which specified this as a "unprecedented celebration of creativity and technology". The press release ennumerates the vision, that those with a passion and creative talent can marry it with technology to create and demonstrate and integrated show of their talents. For example, there is a dancing in the light, and audiovisual performance on film.
The most common view of the website 4chan is that it is the most popular imageboard on the internet. The strength of this website is the submissions are based on anonymity. I have not visited this site very often, but read in a news article ( on how the moderator and creator of the website argues it is a breeding ground for creativity. The idea that images can be manipulated using artistic talent and posed online with anonymity allows for people to express their creativity in one of the most unbridled, raw way possible using those means.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Website Searches related to Creative Teaching and Learning

Courtesy of Therese Riordan, a student in CRS 594 Creative Teaching & Learning Course: The Strong National Museum of Play is quite a story with its beginning as place to display the toy collections of Margaret Woodbury Strong. I remember taking my children there and it was strictly a viewing museum; now I know it’s in the top 5 for Children’s Museums, the School of Education at SUNY Geneseo where I work requires all teacher candidates make a field visit there (a friend teaches the course it’s associated with so sometimes I get to go along J, sometimes we place student teachers in their pre-school, it even makes a great place for a date and if you have free time while in Buffalo, Rochester is only about an hour east and it’s worth the trip . Okay, this is another local one, but I chose Rochester Institute of Technology because of their Creativity & Invention Working Group where individuals from the arts, sciences, humanities, and technology come together to explore shared interests in how creativity and invention are infused into the teaching and learning process and the culture at RIT… It has continued to evolve since 2006 w/themes like creativity as a dimension of the university experience, creative process in science, technology, arts, and humanities; creativity and leadership; intersections of creativity and technology; role of creativity in teaching; creative potential of collaborative partnerships; student creativity and invention.
This is a free innovation and creativity festival open to the public (May 7th this year) and while it highlights the college's innovation and creativity it has something for everyone and even helps you plan your itinerary depending on your wants and needs. The Creative Education Institute’s was founded to improve basic learning skills through reasoning and “real life” and has been effective in the Cleveland Schools. I’m also impressed with the Academic Fun & Fitness Summer Camp (in its10th yr.), which specifically addresses the needs of children ages 6 to 18 with learning differences and special needs: learning disabilities, ADHD, ADD, Dyslexia, Cognitive Delay, Asperger’s Syndrome, and Autism.
I had to include Creative Teaching Cap because this is the case of a frustrated mother of a son w/Asperger’s who took her son out of school, created her own materials to teach him and was so successful in getting him back into school at the appropriate level that she now runs a successful business with complete services! I guess I just love success stories especially when the ones who need it most benefit. I love everything about this website: the simplicity & design, the organization, their mission, programs and accomplishments. Oakland Leaf was incorporated in 2002 by a group of Oakland, CA-based educators who were committed to changing the community through creative education, novel programs/services” to feed the minds, bodies, and spirits of the low-income youth and their families”. I am a big fan of Project Based Learning, which is pretty much just what it says: students use inquiry to study a topic, problem, etc. in depth and from just about every perspective. It’s also known as expeditionary learning and emphasizes collaboration, communication & critical thinking. The top elementary school in Rochester, NY (School of Inquiry) and one of the few successful high schools, School without Walls, both use this concept, as well as a successful charter school. Only because it provides a lot of other websites to check out, but be warned, some are fun and some are marketing their services. It’s worth bookmarking.

Website Searches related to Creative Teaching and Learning

Courtesy of Courtney Belluccio, a student in CRS 594 Creative Teaching & Learning Course:

I thought this website was cool…just the opening creativity with accountability alone speaks volumes. There are tools available, conferences, awards, readings, etc. Even the blue sky bar is aesthetically pleasing. Now they are just showing off with things like: “The American Creativity Association (ACA) is the national organization of professionals in the field of creativity. Through its programs and services, it offers individuals and organizations opportunities for learning, professional development and networking. It is dedicated to enhancing the use of creativity throughout our society for the betterment of the human condition.” How sad, their Buffalo contact information is out of date and the Buffalo link is an expired link. How fun would it be to be a creativity conference planner?
We can not overlook where it all originates for us, and look – I’m on the home page – second gal on the left. How cool – Jonathan Vehar gives us a free webinar from the Buff state page - This web page focuses on how Buffalo works to make us creative leaners and teachers. Ok no way, I just created a twitter account and could not find much on creativity…they have a twitter account! - ICSC.

Now this is insane, I wish I had more time to spend on the Internet, no actually I wish I could just touch the computer and absorb the information or read like the robot in Short Circuit, I digress. So you could type anything you want in this website and get articles…putting it all in the Internet and for the low low price of service at home everything is at our fingertips…how can you not call that working to make us creative learners of the future?
Hmm, interesting. Kids are challenged to solve problems and use the Internet to share pictures, websites, chat rooms, and even videoconferencing to communicate them with other kids all over the world. It’s just amazing what our youth can do, and how simple and innocent they are. What a great idea to nurture creativity and a sense of community and civic responsibility in this large world.

Sternberg has a website, speaking of his buying low and selling high, with the Center for Development and Learning. There are several initiatives listed on this website – leading for learning, right from birth, etc. There are 24 tips for developing creativity that are quite useful. It reminds me of how when we were kids our parents wouldn’t let us accept something…because we were quick and wanted to get it done….they were pushing us and encouraging us to grow and build our imaginations and creativity.

Monday, April 18, 2011

The links to Creative Teaching and Learning Keep Coming!

Courtesy of Ashley Goodwin, a student in CRS 594 Creative Teaching & Learning Course:
The Center for Creative Learning has been providing personal and professional development programs since 1983 for businesses and the general public. The training staff presents a wide variety of programs reflecting their diversity of experience and expertise. The facilitators have training in organizational development and many traditional management techniques as well as the psychology of human development.
Emotional Intelligence is the core of all of the programs, combined with time-tested principles of success, achievement, motivation and leadership.
In 2008, Thomas Tallis School was designated as one of thirty national Schools of Creativity in recognition of its commitment to creative learning. Tallis has been part of the Creative Partnerships network of schools since its inception in 2004. It is a specialist arts college and Leading Edge school but one which promotes creative learning across the whole curriculum. The purpose of this website is to gather together a range of examples of successful creative learning strategies at Thomas Tallis School so that they can be shared in school and beyond.

The Comic Book Project engages children in a creative process leading to literacy reinforcement, social awareness, and character development, then publishes and distributes their work for other children in the community to use as learning and motivational tools.

With ILS, learning is fun and dynamic, but ultimately it comes down to results. The training is the catalyst that seeks to move an organization forward. The interactive courses and dynamic facilitation style, combined with our willingness to adapt to your specific needs set us apart from the industry. We motivate change and we give your associates the tools & practice needed to make that change a reality.
Creative Learning Systems can help school engage learners of all abilities in STEM, digital media arts and 21st century skills.
SmartLab 21st century learning labs are fully-integrated classroom programs custom-designed to meet each school’s unique academic objectives. SmartLabs engage learners of all abilities through hands-on, minds-on projects in STEM, technology exploration and digital media arts.

More Creativity Links!

Courtesy of Scott Hilbert, a student in CRS 594 Creative Teaching & Learning Course:

The journal of experimental education

This address is not working as a hyperlink so you may have to just copy and paste it into your browser bar. I like this article because it shows an historical perspective of our study, it was written in 1966. It also includes semantics as a part of the study. I like this website because it contains links to archived journals, not all of which contain creativity information, but I am certain that over 40 years of articles there may be some to be found.

• Creative Learning and Students’ Perspectives Research Project

This is the final report of the Creative Learning and Students’ Perspectives Research Project or (CLASP). In this article you can find the results of a study of increased creative education in schools in Europe. It is a lengthy article; however it is helpful because it talks about effective techniques, and obstacles that need to be overcome in order for this idea to work. It also shows budget expenditures. I am becoming increasingly interested in this project and intend to investigate this one further as my chosen source for the assignment.

• Creative Thinking Rubric from Kansas
This is one of the sites that is not full of information, but since I found it, I thought that someone may find the example rubric to be helpful

• Creative engagements, thinking with children
I did not find a lot of good information on this web site, but I still included it because it may be of interest to some of our students looking to submit an article to this cause. I also liked the structure of the seminar because it looks quite a bit like this class does.

• Developing Innovation in Education
I included this article on innovation because I found it to be relevant to what we are learning. As you look through the article you will see a section titled “Seeing with fresh eyes, asking new questions”. Does the sound familiar? There is also a section about the rise of creativity and how teachers must engage students in problem solving to help promote creativity.

• Creative Learning Experiences: European Experiences
This is a sales page for the book entitled Creative Learning Experiences: European Experiences edited by Bob Jeffrey. As a part of the CLASP project nine research groups across Europe explored creative learning practices in a variety of different educational situations, and disclosed their findings in this book. It also identifies several traits of creative learning itself, which I though may be interesting to compare to what we are learning. I also liked this site because it has several links, on of which is one to the CLASP project.

• Emerging Practices in Entrepreneurship Education for Creatives
This a page on the Art Design Media Subject Center website talks about creative enterprise education. This is apparently an establishment that supports higher education in the arts. The focus of the page that I included is to increase entrepreneurship in the arts area creatively. I liked this site because of the description it provided for this course, as well as links to courses and course study PDFs that may serve as good examples. It also provides a link to the Creative Warriors, a group also interested in the same goal as the course.

How do we create life long learners?

Written by Graduate Student Thomas McCarthy

How do we motivate today’s students, specifically inner city students from lower income families, to become more engaged in school and become lifelong learners? Five years ago while in school to become a science teacher, I thought I had a good idea of how to do that. Now that I have spent the last five years in the classroom I feel more confused than ever.

My experience thus far as a teacher has been very different than I imagined it might be. I work at a city of Buffalo middle school and often feel more like a disciplinarian than a science instructor. With all that teachers must contend with throughout the day it is not often enough that my coworkers and I wonder if our students are becoming lifelong learners. We know some will be, but we also know those students usually have a strong family unit guiding them at home. Teachers also have to balance budget cuts with increased responsibilities (I now teach Science and Health to almost 300 different students during six classes a day) with little help from most parents. There is also the fact that many students today actually believe that they are not creative, talented, or smart and therefore have no desire to learn, in class or after graduation. This unfortunately is not just my experience in Buffalo; research shows that creativity may be imbued with social class based assumptions such as resilience, self-reliance, persistence, and control over one’s environment (Craft, 2003). In other words, the lower the socioeconomic situation of the student, the less self confidence the student will likely have, at least academically.

When I graduated from high school in the late nineteen-eighties, teaching concepts like inquiry, creativity in the classroom, mastery learning, and metacognitive learning strategies were nowhere to be found. Back then, and still today in some places, teachers stood in front of a room full of students and lectured. The students took notes, asked the occasional question and waited for the bell to ring. Then it was on to the next class in this assembly line type of learning.

Today things are different and are constantly evolving. A good teacher will try to establish a community of learning, in which the contribution of students’ ideas and questions are encouraged. Today’s teachers are aware that students bring many ideas to the classroom, and they give recognition to this. Master teachers work with an open-endedness, they start with something very open and everything evolves. They don’t know where they are going (Denmead, 2010). I believe that one strength of many of today’s teachers is their ability to engage their students in expressing ideas derived from personal experience. The student then starts thinking at a higher level and is more interested in the subject being discussed. Research shows that students value an open learning experience such as practical sessions, discussions, and projects, and in turn feel more prepared for real life and employment problem solving (Williamson, 2001). This then leads to an appreciation of knowledge and is the foundation of lifelong learning. No problem, sounds pretty easy, right?

As a middle school science teacher I have all four of the sciences to introduce to my students, biology, earth science, chemistry, and physics. I just don’t have enough time in most days for lessons taught in an open-ended environment. I have every minute planned and hopefully there won’t be many distractions. Teachers of some other subjects are allowed more freedom during a lesson, in fact, that freedom is necessary. Creative practitioners that contributed to a study of the topic noted the importance of uninhibitedness, of not being restricted, and of being like a child (Denmead, 2010). But according to, science in the United States is falling far behind the rest of the world. Science teachers feel the sense of urgency to get students to perform right now.

Danmead (2010) suggests a possible explanation for observed pedagogical differences between teachers of subjects like Science or Math and teachers, or creative practitioners, of subjects like Art may be that the latter can position themselves as provocateurs while the former intervenes from the sidelines of the creative partnership to enforce order and discipline. This is especially true for me, a middle school teacher with lower income students. One of the most frustrating aspects of my current job is not getting through the material as deeply and efficiently with some classes as others due to disciplinary issues.

I understand this is not the most effective way to create lifelong learners, but honestly, my salary is based on how my students perform on assessments. Teacher tenure is becoming a thing of the past and I have a family to support. Teachers are left complying pedagogically to external mandates that emphasis role performance toward measurable and predictable outcomes (Ball, 2003). This is not just the opinions of a couple of bitter teachers. This is the state of teaching in America. As educators, our jobs depend on students scoring high on the assessments (whether or not administrators will admit it), so that is where most of our efforts go.

I realize this is not the situation for every teacher in every school. Location makes an incredible difference in teaching and learning. My wife is a high school science teacher in a very affluent suburb of Buffalo. Her day is about as different from mine as you can imagine. Student expectations are different. As a result the outcomes on assessments are different as well, and for me? It only seems to be getting worse. The presence of an excellence gap between advantaged and disadvantaged students is demonstrated on both state and national assessments of student performance, and the gaps between academic scores of more advantaged students and less advantaged groups has increased over the last six to seven years (Marshall et al., 2011). The resources available to students are important, but they are also unevenly distributed from school to school.

The most important resource, and possibly the most unevenly distributed resource in my opinion, is the stability and support provided at home. I have read research that says explicit instruction, where specific skills are taught, is the most effective method for teaching critical thinking skills (Halpern and Marin, 2001). But in the same paper Halpern and Marin (2001) also say that the students that participated in the study also attended classes after their regular school day or on Saturday, so they were likely different from the lower achieving students who did not choose to participate. The students who participated in the study most likely have a strong and stable home life that encourages the pursuit of knowledge and lifelong learning. I believe the importance of support and encouragement from home cannot be underestimated.

I believe that by engaging students in open ended activities, a teacher can activate the student's natural curiosity about things. This can lead to the students desire to explore and investigate rather than just "sit and take notes". The student becomes a participant rather than an observer. I also realize that sometimes this approach is just not realistic. It all depends on the school and the type of motivation for learning that the students have. Having teacher expectations that are achievable is vital to producing students who desire to become contributing members of society. Overcrowding classrooms tremendously hinders the teacher’s ability to recognizing which students need additional help and which students are exceptionally talented and creative. In school context, teacher’s role in recognizing gifted and creative students is crucial (Kousoulas and Mega, 2009). Personally, I have a total of almost three hundred students that I am responsible for. It is virtually impossible for me to know much about most of them. Unless I taught them last year and already have some knowledge of their lives, I’m just doing my best to have them score high (or just pass in many cases) and move on to the next grade. It’s a form of assembly line learning all over again.

Long after my students are out of my classroom I want them to be able to contribute to society. It is my opinion that not enough people try to make a difference. It feels to me like large portions of the population are sheep just following the crowd. It seems many people just accept things the way they are, and this happens for many reasons. Mostly it's just easier to not change, change is difficult. Ignorance is another big reason, I feel like many people just have no idea what's going on in the world. To have an impact, a person must know the facts. I want my students to want to be informed, to want to become lifelong learners, and I want them to know how to apply their knowledge to make their lives better. I want them to become and to continue to be informed decision makers.

What needs to happen to ensure our students want this for themselves? I believe it starts at home. A teacher can only do so much. We only see the students for small portion of the day. A parent’s job is to be a parent and lead by example. It is one thing for a child to be told that it’s important to become a lifelong learner by a teacher in a school. It has much more of an impact if they are shown how to become an informed decision maker by someone they love.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Website Searches related to Creative Teaching and Learning

Courtesy of Caroline Pakel-Dunlop, a student in CRS 594 Creative Teaching & Learning Course:

The choice of sites is pretty eclectic and mostly reflects my belief that we need to learn about creativity and our creative self from all possible fronts - not just academia!

Wilderdom – to support any creative endeavour
Theme: experiential creative learning
This is the first and main website I would take with me on a new planet for creative learning... Its main focus is experiential learning and it offers an amazing range of resources to do exactly that. There are links, books, games, tools and techniques that cover most creative learning situations and audiences. I recommend you make this link part of your creative toolkit!

The School of Lost Borders – for our creative soul
Theme: creativity as part of spirituality
Please forgive me for providing a very personal view of this site: this is a site offering a series of ‘programmes’ that invite people to retreat, reflect and re-connect with their authentic (and creative) self. The programmes are conducted in wild nature areas and use old, traditional and wise approaches from a variety of ethnic origins. The main goal is to allow the individual to grow in terms of awareness, intuitive understanding and connections with nature, himself/herself and others.

Alicia Arnold’s blog on creativity
Theme: daily creativity teaching for children
Alicia is one of the recent alumni from the Master programme and has recently started blogging on creativity with steady frequency. I read and see many blogs on ‘creativity’ and this one stands out in my mind for several reasons: first, it is simple, to the point and well-written; second, it is always insightful and meaningful as essentially anchored in Alicia’s experience of teaching creativity to her two young boys; and finally is it a source of useful links and references for further learning. It is, to my mind, a very empowering site when it comes to creative learning.

Another link to a UK University master programme on creativity and change leadership
Theme: There is always a university teaching creativity near where you live in the UK.
As the list of links and references provided by Sue reflect, teaching creativity and learning about how to teach it best are popular themes in UK academia these days and increasingly so. The reality is now that there is always a university not too far away with some king of offering. This is one more for Jo Yudess’s list also!
This particular programme is run by one of the former directors of Synectics’ training section in the UK – now close as Synectics mostly focus their activity on consulting today.

Creatively Fit with Whitney Ferre
Theme: we are all creative and can access our creative self through artistic self-expression
Last summer, we organised our first creativity encounter/creative friends gathering in our home in Michigan. Whitney popped over on the last day and ran one of her workshops making us all paint what ended up a collective painting. I have recommended her site to a number of people since. Mostly to those who wish to explore their creative self through the arts. I like the fact that Whitney has no formal qualifications in the arts and that Creatively Fit emerged out of her own quest for her creative self, out of her own creative passion. I also like the fact that most of her programmes have a collective facet and take individual contributions to the level of collective creation. A different way to learn about creativity, don’t you think?

Website Searches related to Creative Teaching and Learning

Courtesy of Matthew Worwood, a student in CRS 594 Creative Teaching & Learning Course:
Finland has served as a role model for western education systems during the last decade. During the 90s an economic disaster forced the country to examine its manufacturing based economy. The result was a transformation to a knowledge-based economy and a focus toward technology and innovation. Aalto University is an example of continued innovative ideas emerging from Finland, merging the school of economics, school of art and design, and school of technology. I selected this program/Web site because I am confident that this program will support and develop the current tradition of creativity and innovation coming from Finland. I am also aware of a similar project currently underway at a US university. I believe that integrating disciplines, sharing ideas and implementing innovative education ideas will lead to future innovation.

“Global Entrepreneurship Week, an initiative to inspire young people to embrace innovation, imagination and creativity. To think big -- and to turn their ideas into reality.” This statement communicates the connection and relevance of this project to creativity. Its success is demonstrated after 8,277 organizations around the world, planned events during Global Entrepreneurship Week. This Web sites serves as the central hub for this program, sharing ideas, promoting upcoming events and communicating statistics to the project. A global movement designed to unleash ideas. I selected this Web site rather then defaulting to Great resources and information to get involved.

Making another reference to Finland, this Web site is produced by a leader and beneficiary of Finland’s transformation to a knowledge-based economy, Nokia. The mobile technology company provides challenges to the global community related to innovation in digital technologies with a cash prize. Granted, another challenge Web site, but with a focus to wireless services. Stephen Johnson explores how the Internet, and a connected world, promotes idea sharing that leads to innovation. A win for Nokia, but also a win for a technology sector that provides an opportunity to share and receive ideas in a single second. I believe that digital technologies have spurred the latest desire and interest in creativity referenced in Sue’s PowerPoint presentation in 2005. Technology is also an important aspect of 21st Century Skills.

As a distinguished Apple Educator this is a difficult Web site to reference, but Microsoft are funding the ‘Imagine Cup’. An initiative that acknowledges students around the world, have ideas. A particular focus for me is the The Imagine Cup Solve This program, which challenges students to develop solutions for real-world problems submitted by IGOs, NGOs and non-profits. There is a library of current issues that can be explored and developed in a project-based learning environment that I feel would work in most classrooms, whatever the subject.
Entrepreneurial ideas from developing nations with ordinary people like you and I. Rather then donating money to charity, KIVA provides an opportunity for you to invest in a creative idea from an individual wanting to start their own business. This is a creative way to support the fight against poverty, and is in my mind an absolute definition of a creative idea! I respect any Web site that promotes and shares creative ideas, but KIVA takes it a step further by adding this charitable aspect to the project. An entrepreneur is someone who has an idea that has financial worth, often these ideas are new and useful to society. Since its creation over half a million entrepreneurs have been funded through the program, and an unbelievable 98% have paid back their initial investment! Clearly a lot of ideas have come into fruition from this Web site.
We all know ebay, but etsy is the ebay of creativity! Thousands of creative products have been developed and sound through this Web site. I love this Web site purely because I feel that many creative hobbies and crafts have provided a modest income to some very creative and artistic people. Definitely a Web site for those with a creative ability in artistic design, but for anyone who respects creativity I high recommend a quick tour!

Perhaps a little self-serving after a program I work on has received significant funding from this initiative, but the Investing in Innovation (i3) grant is designed to fund innovative ideas in education that promote creativity and innovation in our future generation. Part of Obama’s Blue Print for Reform, I’m confident that ‘If’ implemented as designed, this program has the ability to scale up projects in education that will be extremely beneficial to all those who respect creativity!
Unlocking Creativity: A Strategy for Development (A plan to basicially make a more creative society)

Another site worth investigation - especially for those interested in Creative Problem Solving.

Friday, April 15, 2011

More Creativity Links!

Courtesy of Melinda Walker, a student in CRS 594 Creative Teaching & Learning Course:

The Standford d-school (the d is short for design) has branched out to reach K-12 students around the world. Stanford university professors and graduate students, along with local and national businesses, foundations, and orginazitions work together to empower teachers and students with training and support in design thinking. While their focus is mainly the underprivledged, they have also partnered with the Nueva School for the gifted and talented. Classes and training are mentioned, however they may only be for Stanford students.
The mission statement of the Attitudinal Healing Connection is “to eliminate violence by offering creative and educational programs that transform the human spirit and build peaceful, loving, communities for all humanity.” While this organization’s main focus is to to put an end to violence through emotinal healing, they have chosen to do this by providing safe opportunities for creative expression. Their ArtEsteem program for kids teaches them to visualize, design, and create themselves as a super hero and then write about their positive powers. They also offer a leadership institute that includes training in problem solving and identifying personal assets. AHC is located in Oakland, CA, one of the most violent places in America due to the high percentage of drugs, gangs, poverty, and high school drop out rates.
Learning through exploration is the goal of the Exploratorium. Although their hands-on interactive exhibits my range from water to your weight on other planets, the Exploratorium wants everyone to leave knowing “the world is an understandable place and that learning to understand it is satisfying and a lot of fun.” They strive to “create a culture of learning through innovative environments, programs, and tools that help people nurture their curiosity about the world around them.” The Exploratorium excells at heightening anticipation, making it a very popular field trip with both students and teachers.
Zeum is a hands-on multimedia and technology arts museum for kids. Their goal is to nuture the 3 C’s of the 21st century (creativity, collaboration, and communication) in order to “inspire new ideas and innovative solutions.” Everyone leaves Zeum having created something new. Their website provides information about their exhibits and activities, as well as educational programming.
The mission statement of the Global School of Silicon Valley states it is "committed to providing each student an exemplary American educational experience, while focusing on Holistic Development, Creativity and Entrepreneurship, and nurturing them into men and women who are Global citizens committed to the spirit of Excellence". The principal elaborates a bit by stating the school will encourage “initiative, self-discipline, critical thinking, and creative problem-solving.” This school is part of a 22 school international network of eight countries. By collaborating with others from around the world, the global school aims to increase cross-cultural learning for teachers and students, share and develop best practices, and formulate consistent educational policies.¬¬¬

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Website Searches related to Creative Teaching and Learning

Courtesy of Catherine Tillman a student in CRS 594 Creative Teaching & Learning Course:
Teaching for Creativity: An Institute for Educators at the Guggenheim
The Guggenheim offers a week-long program for educators that builds upon the findings of a four-year research program completed by the Guggenheim Museum called the Art of Problem Solving. The purpose of the research initiative was to “identify the skills associated with problem solving and determine how educators can encourage the development of these skills with their students including experimentation, flexibility, and intentionality.” The institute is funded by a grant from the US Dept of Education. I particularly like this program because it emphasizes the exploration of research based methods for promoting creativity and problem solving in the classroom, and because as an educator, I am always looking for professional development courses related to creativity and this looks like a good one! Recently I also participated in another great professional development course you might be interested in
I feel in love with Harvard Psychologist Ellen Langer when I chose her book, Mindfulness, as the subject of my first research paper for my graduate course work at Buffalo State in Creative Studies. Her definition of mindfulness comes close to the definition of creative personality; mindfulness, according to Langer, involves, novelty-seeking, engagement, novelty producing, and flexibility. She has now created an assessment to measure mindfulness called the LMS. Although Langer does not say she is promoting creativity per se, I believe all four of her popular books are continuing to educate the public about the value of creativity and her research lends refreshing insight into the field.
I found Sugata Mitra from a friend who thought I might be interested in his work. He is an education scientist and professor of educational technology who is using computers and self-instruction (he calls it “minimally invasive education”) in remote locations to revolutionize what we know about teaching and learning. Fascinating. His work is really changing my attitudes about teaching and learning. “His project demonstrates that, even in the absence of any direct input from a teacher, an environment that stimulates curiosity can cause learning through self-instruction and peer-shared knowledge.”
I found this site at Psychology Today from a link on Dr. Shelly Carson’s website. She is a Harvard professor who is the author of the book, Your Creative Brain. She includes a link to this site noting that it includes links to fascinating blogs about creativity. What surprised me about this site is the fact that there are so many people out there blogging about so many different aspects of creativity. One blog that I particularly like is by Mark Batey,
who is Joint Chair of The Psychometrics at Work Research Group at Manchester Business School, and researches the psychology of creativity. Batey is an editor for the International Journal of Creativity and Problem Solving and sits on the Editorial Board for the American Journal of Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity and Arts (PACA).
PBS has a great website to help parents and their children explore creativity. The site includes activities for the children and lots of background information for the parents. I found this link in the resource section of a book I have, Creative Activities for Young Children, 10th Edition, by Mary Mayesky. I like it because it is evidence that parents are starting to realize the value of creativity with their young children. Hooray!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

What’s missing in Art Education? A Paradox: Art Making without Creativity

Written by Graduate Student Khrista RIchardson

The link between art making and creativity seems like an obvious one. Great artists have long been revered for their exciting, imaginative and unique way of seeing the world, interpreting ideas and emotions, and solving complex problems. Teaching children to think like an artist in creative and imaginative ways and to express themselves visually is vitally important, especially in the tremendously visual culture we experience today. It seems that, to many educators, the act of teaching art to children has been confused with something else; something light, crafty and quick. Something for which there is an exact approach and an ideal outcome; where the goal is to conform and to be rewarded with a good grade.

Incorporating creativity into the art room seems easy, like a natural reaction that would happen on its own, which is probably why so many art teachers fail to intentionally integrate it into their plans. It’s easy for a teacher to come up with quick “make it and take it” art lessons that only require students to follow simple directions in order to create a product. Preparing creative, thought provoking lessons is time consuming and requires careful planning. Take a scan down the hallways of the typical elementary school and you’re sure to see almost identical pieces of seemingly mass-produced, construction paper assemblages. The highly regarded high school art program I have had experience with seems to focus heavily on technique, vocabulary, and rote memorization of artists and dates rather than creativity and expression. I believe that many art and classroom teachers are grossly misrepresenting the act of art making to their students, and in turn, unknowingly diminishing their creativity and intrinsic motivation toward the act of art making. Alane Jordan Starko, author of “Creativity in the Classroom” (2005), addresses this by stating “If the teacher selects the problem and decides how it should be solved, the end products (although potentially providing the opportunity for students to practice artistic techniques) are more a reflection of the teacher’s creativity than the students’” (p. 263). Providing students with a defined problem to solve and step by step instructions on how to solve it is not enhancing their understanding of art or creativity, it’s stifling it. It is my belief that freedom and choice are what the current art room most requires yet, regrettably, lacks.

Freedom and Choice
Freedom, both one of Goran Ekvall’s (1996) dimensions for organizational creativity, and Teresa Amabile’s (1998) potential “Creativity Killer” (the lack of freedom, or over-control), is essential to the environment in which creativity is to take place. Ekvall defines freedom as “The independence in behavior exerted by the people in the organization…The opposite climate would include people who are passive, rule-bound and anxious to stay inside established boundaries” (1996, p. 107). Amabile states that “People will be more creative… if you give them freedom to decide how to climb a particular mountain. You needn't let them choose which mountain to climb.” (1998, p. 81). In other words, students need to be able to define their own problems and discover their own solutions when faced with a task; and it’s the responsibility of the teacher to set up the task and make sure that happens. If autonomy is valued in the art classroom, intrinsic motivation will flourish and students will want to make art (Amabile, 1989).

In order to incorporate freedom into an art class room, the teacher must be mindful of a variety of factors. Although young children may need limits, goals and a sense of how to accomplish a task, the more choices children are presented with, the more creative they will be (Amabile, 1989). Choice of materials is one way to give students freedom in the art room. Having worked in and visited numerous art rooms, I have noticed art educators limiting materials for certain projects, using paint for one unit and colored pencils for another. This can significantly inhibit the creativity of students. As Amabile states, “If children are presented with just one particular way of doing something, they will become like the rat in the maze who habitually takes the straight, uncomplicated, and uncreative way out” (1989). When an art teacher gives her students the choice of materials, she is not only providing them with freedom or choice, she is asking them to think about the qualities of materials; how one material would express feelings or thoughts differently than another, and to think about what material would work best for them, rather than for the entire class. This simple act can encourage higher-order thinking skills, heightened emotional intelligence, and of course, creativity.

An approach to preparing students for freedom of materials in the art room could be to introduce art materials in an innovative way, contrary to the way most art educators do so. Instead of setting up lessons throughout the year to expose students to a variety of different materials through specific, material based projects, art teachers can set up exploratory lessons in the beginning of the school year. These exploratory lessons should be no stakes, low pressure assignments that allow students the freedom to get familiar with materials without fear of being graded or judged. Through a study on creative behavior, Torrance found that “individuals having experienced a period of unevaluated practice coupled with encouragement for free experimentation will produce ideas which will be judged to have a higher degree of various creative qualities” (1965, p. 160). After experimenting, students could write journal entries explaining how the material made them feel (in control, loose, ridged, etc.), and, potentially, what kind of project this material could be used for. Perhaps the purpose of the first few weeks of an art class could be for students to familiarize themselves with the materials provided. This way, students would be able handle the freedom to choose from materials in the future, based on what they had learned early on in the class. This approach could help students produce more creative and emotional pieces of art.

Student Self-Reflection
Another way for an art educator to incorporate freedom into her curriculum is to plan activities that directly relate to her student’s lives, rather than planning every step of a procedure that yields similar results for each student. When students are asked to reflect on their own experiences and to create art based on their feelings, memories, or thoughts pertaining to an idea presented by the teacher, they have the freedom to create individual and unique pieces of art. Szekely states that “When teachers assume that students can make artworks simply by following instructions, they are forgetting how important thinking about art ideas and preparing for the artwork are in the art process” (as cited in Starko, 2005, p. 264). Encouraging students to reflect upon their lives in a meaningful way will help them to see that art is relevant; not intangible or useless. Lessons that encourage students to ask questions, investigate, take themselves seriously and observe the world around them will yield beautiful, meaningful, and unique results. Students will begin to understand the act of art making as a viable mode of communication and expression rather than a perfectly planned route leading to an exact, ideal outcome (Szekely as cited in Starko, 2005).

Creating relevant lessons that will encourage students to think deeply and introspectively will never be a simple task. Students at any grade level may feel uncomfortable or confused when asked to think about the relationship between an idea that is presented by the teacher and their own personal life. They are very rarely asked to reflect on their own experiences in relation to algebra, physics, or biology, which is why it is imperative to ask these kinds of questions in the art room. Due to some students’ inexperience in self-reflective thinking, creative thinking strategies may be employed to help them generate ideas and responses to the tasks presented.

Independent divergent thinking is a great way to help students develop many ideas for their art work without giving explicit directions. A useful model called Talents Unlimited outlines a strategy to encourage divergent thinking in the classroom. Talents Unlimited, created by Dr. Carol Schlichter (1986), is based on the Taylor’s Talents model for teaching by Calvin Taylor (1967), and Guilford’s work on the nature of intelligence (1956). Although Schlichter explains six useful talent areas in the Talents Unlimited model that encourage general creative thinking, the first talent area, Productive Thinking, deals specifically with divergent thinking. Productive Thinking can be explicitly taught to students in the art room by asking them to do the following specific tasks in a journal when posed with a challenge (Schlichter as cited in Starko 2005):

1. Think of many ideas (fluency)
2. Think of varied ideas (flexibility)
3. Think of unusual ideas (originality)
4. Add to their ideas to make them better (elaboration)

Authentic visual expression of emotion and thought ultimately rely on choice of execution. When we take freedom and choice out of art making, what’s left is unimaginative, insignificant and thus fails to be art at all. Consequently, the teaching of art to children of any age should be tightly bound to the teaching of creative thinking. Although the term creativity may often be linked to art making, one does not automatically come with the other. It can be challenging and messy to incorporate authentic creativity into the art room, but with freedom and choice, I believe students will come to understand, recognize, and respond to the world around them in a thoughtful and meaningful way. By linking art and creativity, teachers can help students come to understand art as an intelligent and extraordinary visual response to the individually defined big questions in life.

Khrista Richardson, a current Creative Studies graduate student at Buffalo State College, has a Bachelor's degree in Art Eduaction. Khrista is currently fulfilling a year of service with Western New York Americorps ABLE (Americorps Builds Lives through Education) program, working as a full time tutor at a Buffalo charter school.


Amabile, T. (1989). Growing up creative: Nurturing a lifetime of creativity. Amherst, MA: Creative Education Foundation.
Amabile, T. (1998). How to kill creativity. Havard Business Review, 76(5), 77-87.
Ekvall, G. (1996). Organizational climate for creativity and innovation. European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, 5(1), 105-123.
Starko, A, J. (2005). Creativity in the classroom. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc., Publishers.
Guilford, J. P. (1956). Structure of intellect. Psychological Bulletin, 53, 267–293.
Schlichter, C. L. (1986). Talents Unlimited: An inservice education model for teaching thinking skills. Gifted Child Quarterly, 30(3), 119–123.
Taylor, C. W. (1967). Questioning and creating: A model for curriculum reform. Journal of Creative Behavior, 1(1), 22–33.
Torrance, E. P. (1965). Rewarding creative behavior. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc.