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» 2011 » June

Bringing Critical Thinking, Communication, Collaboration and Creativity to a School Near You

Magnifying

Image by Clover_1 via Flickr

Last summer The Creativity Crisis made the cover of Newsweek. The report documented the decline in creativity in U.S.  school children. This leaves American children at a disadvantage when it comes to competing in a global economy. With social, economic, and political challenges getting ever more complex, creative leadership is rising in importance. In fact, a study of 1500 chief executives identified creativity as the most important competency for the future. If creativity is that important, shouldn’t it be taught in schools? Though embracing creativity within schools is slow going, I am hopeful change is coming soon. On June 10, 2011,

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Kids (and Adults) Learn Better When They’re Having Fun

happy(07-08-16)

Image by jijis via Flickr

It’s a fact – kids learn better when they’re having fun. Actually, adults do too. To test out the theory, all you need to do is survey a group of folks who have just sat through a two hour PowerPoint meeting. How much of the presentation do you think they absorbed? In probing, I’m sure you’ll hear more about “death by PowerPoint” than tangible lessons from the meeting. The complaints you’d hear from adults are the same as the ones you’d hear from kids who are expected to sit quietly in class and absorb the lesson plan.

But, this doesn’t need to be the way. There are many engaging ways to teach.

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Creativity for a Cause: Nothing Can End Hunger

Image via Wikipedia

An informal promise my cohort made when we began studying creativity was to always use creativity for good. As such, whenever I see interesting ways to tap into creativity for a cause, I take notice.

The other day I came across an interesting campaign for the Rhode Island Food Bank. The campaign moved me – I loved the creative problem solving that went into getting people to think about and take action on hunger. Unlike much of the cause marketing that we’re surrounded by, this campaign tugged at my heart strings without clubbing me over the head with gripping images of hunger. There was something both intellectually and emotionally appealing. Take a look for yourself…

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Ideas are a Result of Genetics and Experiences

Whitman Giant Tell-A-Tale edition, 1963

Image via Wikipedia

The other day I saw my 7-year old son’s homework strewn about on the kitchen table and asked if he needed help. He replied, “It’s not due til Friday. I don’t need to start it yet.”

I though, ‘Ah, the makings of a procrastinator.”

After a bit of encouraging, my son decided to do a portion of his homework. The assignment included reading a book, completing a worksheet, and creating a diorama. My son had read the book previously, so he started on the worksheet. To complete the worksheet, my son needed to list the main characters, the title, and then write a few sentences about the beginning, middle, and the ending of the book.

Interestingly, as he began what I considered a language arts assignment, he started asking me about math. My son’s questions included, “What’s 31 divided by 3? Can you show me how to divide? What is a third of 31?”

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How an Arts Education Improves Academic Achievement

4-year-old boy starts painting Revell model of...

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One of the biggest differences between my oldest son’s preschool education and his elementary school education lies in the arts. When he was enrolled in preschool he brought home fantastic art projects. Every year our family looked forward to the art open house where we were invited to the gallery (i.e. transformed classroom) for a showing. Many of the students would dress up in formal attire to proudly walk their parents through the gallery. On the long awaited day, the teachers would hand out index cards with open-ended questions parents could ask to start a dialogue about their child’s work. And, at the end of the year, each grade would put on a play. One year my son was in the Wizard of Oz and the next year he was in The Sound of Music. I treasure these memories and proudly display my son’s artwork in my office.

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With Creativity, What’s Old is What’s New

In March, Steven Tyler, the lead singer for Aerosmith, set the fashion world ablaze by appearing on American Idol with feather extensions in his hair. Apparently, feathers are among the latest fashion trend and Stephen Tyler isn’t the only celebrity sporting them. Gwyneth Paltrow, Vanessa Hudgens, Kat Von D, Jessica Biel, and Hilary Duff have also been seen wearing feather earrings.

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Innovation is Seeing the Invisible

ASCII to Binary encoding of the word "Wik...

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In an FEI11 presentation by Timothy Grayson, author of The Spaces in Between, Grayson shared how successful innovators don’t look at the the dots or the lines connecting them, but the spaces in between. Grayson started by saying when it comes to innovation, we (people) are the problem. He believes we are programed to make innovation harder and that becoming better innovators means seeing what is invisible. Grayson listed some reasons we get in our own way including:

The Marshmallow Test as a Predictor of Future Financial Woes

Marshmallows

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In the 1970’s Dr. Walter Mischel of Stanford University conducted the famous marshmallow tests where he put 600 of 4-year olds into a room by themselves and told them they could have one marshmallow or cookie right away, or wait until he came back and have two marshmallows or cookies. This test of willpower, self-control and immediate gratification ended in 30% of the preschoolers eating the treats and some waiting as long as 20 minutes to double the number of treats. The interesting learning from this study is how 4-year olds performed on this test predicted patterns later in life. In short, children Read more of this post

Is Creativity Inherited?

A few weeks back at the FEI11 conference, I helped setup the Lego exhibit. After unloading boxes and boxes of Legos, I dove into contributing the first of many user-generated, or in this case, conference attendee-generated, creations that would grace the exhibit. As I thought about what to construct, I decided it might be nice to welcome folks to Boston by building the skyline. After constructing the John Hancock Tower, the “Boston Legal” building, the Prudential building, and a “Bridge to the Future” with a divergent and convergent staircase, I started on the waterfront. I added water details including Read more of this post

Creative Problem Solving and Trash Collection

Big Belly Solar Compactor in Lytle Park

Image by elycefeliz via Flickr

Last week, I stopped by a local food truck for lunch. After eating, I looked around for a trash can to toss the rubbish. Typically, it is easy to spot the receptacle because it is overflowing with trash. Not this time though. As I looked around, I found a Big Belly Solar Compactor. I didn’t think much about what a solar trash compactor was because I was running late for a meeting.

Then, over the weekend, my son and I had a picnic at our local park. When we were finished with our picnic, I looked around for  someplace to throw the trash. In the distance, I spotted a trash can with piles of wrappers and food debris. Sadly, we couldn’t jam another bit of trash into the can if we tried. Rather than adding to the growing pile forming around the receptacle, my son and I looked for another trash can. We found a pristine Big Belly Solar Compactor. Problem solved.

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