The 85th Oscars Awards Ceremony is just around the corner, it makes us think about creativity seriously. Creativity is one of the most overlooked characteristics in formal education system.
Teaching’s primary purpose should be to ensure that every student graduates ready to tinker, create, and take initiative.
Dan Meyer is right when he describes today’s curriculum as “paint-by-numbers classwork, robbing kids of a skill more important than solving problems: formulating them.” Imagine a world where the math textbook was replaced with open-ended, thought-provoking opportunities to question the world around us. In these classrooms, students would learn how to think, how to find problems, not just plug in numbers to solve them. What if quizzes measured kids’ ability to question, not answer?
Schools like this exist in the dozens, but we need them in the hundreds of thousands:
- Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia uses a project-based learning model, where the core values of inquiry, research, collaboration, presentation and reflection are emphasized in all classes.
- Big Picture Learning schools across the country are built on the foundational principle that there is no canon of information that all students must know, an idea that flies in the face of the current Common Core standards movement.
- High schoolers who want to design software that changes lives can do so at the Academy for Software Engineering in New York City when it opens this August.
- And the school to which I’ll send my own kids hasn’t opened yet either. Bricolage Academy is a proposed new public elementary school in New Orleans. While the name conjures up images of the streets in the historic French Quarter, the name is borrowed from the French verb, bricoler, to tinker. Incubated in 4.0 Schools’ innovation lab, Bricolage’s founding principal recognizes that technology and increasing diversity will continue to influence our society in unpredictable ways and thus, a school must continually adapt so that students are prepared for the world they will enter as adults.
Last Thursday I was in the U.S. Capitol for the public launch of a new caucus, i.e., a collection of U.S. senators and House members from both parties who focus on a common cause. It is called the STEAM Caucus. For years the U.S. government has promoted so-called STEM education–science, technology, engineering and math. President Obama called for more STEM education in his recent State of the Union address. The STEAM caucus adds an “A”–for “arts”–to the acronym….
Creativity and Education: Why it Matters (report downloadable)
Adobe has released Creativity and Education: Why it Matters, a new study that sheds light on the role of creativity in career success and the growing belief that creativity is not just a personality trait, but a learned skill. Based on the study, 85% percent of respondents agree creative thinking is critical for problem solving in their career, and 68% of respondents believe creativity is a skill that can be learned. Nearly three-quarters (71%) say creative thinking should be “taught as a class – like math or science.”
Ninety-one percent agree there is more to preparing for success in school than learning subjects, and 82% wish they had more exposure to creative thinking as students.
Interestingly, science (69%) and math (59%) ranked nearly as high as traditional creative subjects like art (79%), music (76%), and drama (65%) in contributing to creative thinking.
A new approach to education using the arts’, is a European Union funded education project that is designing innovative methodologies to add creativity in to schools through the arts, as a key component of every school subject.
European education has a critical need to find a way to weave creativity in to every aspect of the school curriculum, to not squeeze or under-utilize the arts as a key tool of nurturing creativity but to bring creativity through artistic expression in to every subject.
The arts play a fundamental role to support a student’s creative abilities, self-expression and learning abilities. They are a necessary tool especially when not thought as separate subjects but integrated throughout the curriculum. For example, dance in mathematics, drawing in history, music in languages etc.
Creativity – Being able to think on your feet, approach tasks from different perspectives and think ‘outside of the box’ will distinguish your child from others.
Confidence – The skills developed through theater, not only train you how to convincingly deliver a message, but also build the confidence you need to take command of the stage.
Problem Solving – Artistic creations are born through the solving of problems.
Perseverance – In an increasingly competitive world, where people are being asked to continually develop new skills, perseverance is essential to achieving success.
Focus – The ability to focus is a key skill developed through ensemble work. Keeping a balance between listening and contributing involves a great deal of concentration and focus.
Non-Verbal Communication – Through experiences in theater and dance education, children learn to breakdown the mechanics of body language.
Receiving Constructive Feedback – Receiving constructive feedback about a performance or visual art piece is a regular part of any arts instruction.
Collaboration – Most arts disciplines are collaborative in nature.
Dedication – When kids get to practice following through with artistic endeavors that result in a finished product or performance, they learn to associate dedication with a feeling of accomplishment.
Accountability – When children practice creating something collaboratively they get used to the idea that their actions affect other people.
A variety of resources have been developed to help schools and teachers connect the arts with the Common Core State Standards.
The Arts and the Common Core Curriculum Mapping Project
This 55-page document from the nonprofit group Common Core suggests many arts-infused lessons, with references to specific English/language arts standards.
Center for Student Work
Developed by the nonprofit Expeditionary Learning and the Harvard Graduate School of Education, this website has collected a large set of exemplary project-based student work, much with a strong arts dimension. For each, it indicates relevant common-core math and English/language arts standards (as well as other state standards).
Americans for the Arts Blog Salon
This weeklong “blog salon,” hosted in September by Americans for the Arts, brought together about a dozen experts to weigh in on the common core and the arts. They explore the new standards and, in some cases, offer both conceptual and practical advice on how to bring them together.
I believe it was J.K. Rowling’s Albus Dumbledore who said, “Ah, music. A magic behind all we do here!” This quotation comes to mind so many times when I witness the effect of catchy tunes and powerful lyrics on our creative students in Studio 113. Whether the classroom malady is a group of lethargic, uninterested students, a bulky reading assignment of seemingly ancient pages, or the misunderstanding of key literary characters, a solution often lies at the intersection of a crafty jam and a thematically connected excerpt of literature. The result? Classroom musical magic.
As a creative director, there are several resources that I utilize to help fuel my passion but I believe others can benefit from them too — no matter what your profession.To make a mark in today’s world, we should all start thinking of ourselves as working in creative fields.
Following, in no particular order, are some of my go-to online resources for creative inspiration….
(Paul Biedermann is Creative Director/Owner of re:DESIGN and Managing Partner/Editor-in-Chief of 12 Most.)
And, a bonus with great research finding:
At the Nijmegen Unconscious lab in The Netherlands, Ap Dijksterhuis and his colleagues have shown that participants who are distracted for a while from a main creative challenge end up generating better ideas, and more of them, than others who just work straight through.
Staying in the same mental domain appeared to tie up their unconscious, robbing its ability to work behind the scenes.
This study has clear implications for how to optimize your performance at work. The next occasion that you feel burnt out on a creative task and decide to take a time out, don’t simply switch to a similar kind of project. Aim to work in a completely different way. If you were writing, try switching to numbers or design; and vice versa. While you’re doing that, your unconscious will be free to work its magic.