This month’s Educational Leadership focus deals with creativity. The topic has been a focus in many debates. Standard-based instruction and high stakes testing has been to blame for “stifling” the creative juices of our students. I beg to differ. The opportunity to be creative can present itself in any environment. Beghetto and Kaufman (2013) explain that creativity is more than originality. One article explains that creativity is a combination of originality and task appropriateness (Kaufman & Sternberg, 2007; Plucker, Beghetto, & Dow, 2004). Creativity is more than having the ability to think outside the box.
It is difficult to express creativity on a worksheet. Kaufman and Beghetto make a distinction between types of creativity in their Four C Model of Creativity.
• mini-c, or interpretative (such as a 2nd grade student’s new insight how to solve a math problem).
• little-c, or everyday, creativity (such as a 10th grade social studies class developing an original project that combines learning about key historical events with gathering local histories from community elders).
• Pro-C, or expert, creativity (for example, the idea of the flipped classroom pioneered by teachers Aaron Sams and Jonathan Bergmann.
• Big-C, or legendary, creativity (for example, Maria Montes-sori’s new approach to early childhood education). (Kaufman & Beghetto, pg. 12).
In San Saba ISD, we want to provide the opportunity to have creativity flourish within the context of our curriculum. There is opportunity for this. Ohler (2013) states that creativity is ability to produce something original and useful. New ways of thinking about problems and finding ways to solve them innovatively are important.
Many of us think of art, movies, and music as creative explorations. This makes sense to us. Creativity has been linked to motivation. Teachers want to help students find purpose and achieving this can be quite a challenge. It is difficult to find creativity and motivation in a subject that lacks enthusiasm. Where does enthusiasm generate? I think the essence of teaching is finding motivation in even the most mundane topics. Even “Dirty Jobs” can be motivating.
Roger von Oech wrote a book called “A Whack on the Side of the Head.” I used this book when I taught Creative Writing at Central High School. It was a good source for helping one take the mundane perspective and spice it up a little. There are “Mental Locks” that stifle our creativity. These attitudes increase as we mature and are forced to live in a “practical” world. We try to avoid ambiguity in school; however, situations that can be interpreted in a number of ways can be a powerful stimulant. Here is one example. This exercise came from Roger von Oech’s A Whack on the Side of the Head (p. 138):
In the following line of letters, cross out six letters so that the remaining letters, without altering their sequence, will spell a familiar English word. BSAINXLEATNTEARS
Divergent thinking is something we want to keep alive in our schools. I will post the answer to the exercise in next week’s article.
Beghetto, R. & Kaufman, J. (2013). Fundamentals of creativity. Educational Leadership. 70, (5). 11-15.
Brookhart, S. (2013). Assessing creativity. Educational Leadership. 70, (5). 28-34.
Ohler, J. (2013). The uncommon core. Educational Leadership. 70, (5). 42-46.
Von Oech, R. (1998). A whack on the side of the head. New York, NY: Warner Books, Inc.