How an Arts Education Improves Academic Achievement

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

Image via Wikipedia

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.

Read more of this post

The Marshmallow Test as a Predictor of Future Financial Woes

Marshmallows

Image via Wikipedia

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

The Humana Story: Reframing the Organization for Innovation

Humana headquarters in Louisville, KY

Image via Wikipedia

Recently, I had the opportunity to attend IIR’s 2011 Front End of Innovation conference. There were many great speakers and topics. Here is an excerpt from Humana.

When it comes to innovation in the health care space, Humana stands head and shoulders above the competition. Tony Tomazic, Director of Innovation, at Humana shared learning from the company’s 11 year history in the innovation business. Here are a few of Tony’s insights:

Testing, Learning and Curiosity

Rocco the beaver in studio

Image via Wikipedia

There’s a lot of talk in the business world about the importance of testing and learning. When it comes to web site design, we typically create prototypes to help clients understand user flows, graphical elements, and user interactions. Many times, we take these prototypes out to end users to test and get feedback. This aspect of testing and learning helps to uncover opportunities, understand what is/isn’t working, confirm hypotheses, and find ways of improving outcomes. Though this example was couched in a business context, we all have the innate ability for testing and learning. In fact, testing and learning begins as infants.

Read more of this post

Routine Creativity and a Healthy Lifestyle

Brainstorming

Image via Wikipedia

Just as routine exercise improves overall health, routine creativity adds to a healthy lifestyle as well.

In some brainstorming sessions, the climate is calm with people thoughtfully building on each others ideas. In other brainstorming sessions, the climate is more competitive with people trying to outdo each others ideas. Over time I’ve realized the calm room is usually filled with people who brainstorm consistently, while the competitive room is usually filled with people who brainstorm sporadically. With this hypothesis, I began thinking about the parallels between exercise and creativity and how a sedentary lifestyle (either physically or creatively) can be bad for your health.

Read more of this post

Creativity, Languages, and the Subconscious

dream pillows

Image by sweetjessie via Flickr

Being able to speak a different language helps spark creativity by providing access to more people and more cultures. This leads to greater understanding, a more open mind, and greater empathy – all great building blocks for drawing creative inspiration.

Although I live my life in an English-speaking world, sometimes when I dream about my grandparents, I dream in Chinese. Growing up, I spent a great deal of time living with my grandparents and speaking Chinese. Now that I’m older and do not speak Chinese as much, I feel most comfortable with the language in my dreams. While dreaming, I carry on lengthy conversations with my grandparents. Upon waking and walking through a play-by-play of the conversations, I am always surprised by how much of the language I still remember.

Read more of this post

How Music Inspires Creativity

Classical Music In The Park

Image by Photo Gallery via Flickr

I grew up with music and am thankful for my musical household. Of course, with my family “growing up with music” didn’t mean coming from a musically talented family, but living above a disco lounge. In thinking about my childhood I remember my brother and I putting our ears to the floor late at night to hear the sounds of the 70’s. I also have fond memories of my uncle singing into a hairbrush, my first portable radio, and my first Walkman!

A memorable quote about the link between music and creativity comes from creativity facilitator, Bill Sturner, who said, “…music cuts through and gets you to glide with it.” And, if you think about it, music really does have a way of shifting our moods. Music can make us happy, give us energy, make us cry, make us conjure images of the past…and even images of the future.

Read more of this post

Scientific Proof for Sensing Gaps and Imagining Possibilities

Peeking

Image by wickenden via Flickr

This is a follow-up post to an article I wrote a few weeks back titled, Creativity: Sensing Gaps and Imagining Possibilities. In the article I hypothesized about how a person’s mind could recognize a gap in a situation and fill in, or imagine, the possibilities. I used examples from my early work experience to shed light on how the mind might work.

In listening to an NPR story on an early morning commute, I was surprised to learn of scientific proof backing the sensing of gaps and imagining possibilities. In the segment Mindreading: Technology Turns Thought into Action the NPR team interviewed researchers who found, “Whether it’s musical phrases or strings of words or scenery we look at, our brains are always filling in missing information.”

Read more of this post

Creativity: Sensing Gaps and Imagining Possibilities

Albert Einstein during a lecture in Vienna in ...

Image via Wikipedia

In 1916, Einstein published the general theory of relativity. More than 50 years later, NASA confirmed Einstein’s predictions. How is it that some people can seemingly predict the future? I believe it comes down to the ability to sense gaps and to imagine possibilities. At the end of the day, predicting the future may be nothing more than tapping into divergent and convergent thinking skills.

For example, on my last day of work from one of my very first jobs, I wrote down a half dozen predictions about the future of the company I was leaving. I then sealed my predictions in envelopes and gave them to a colleague with instructions to open each one on the date indicated. As my colleague opened each envelope, she was surprised by the accuracy of what I had predicted. In the end, nearly all had come true.

Read more of this post

How to Avoid 7 Kid Creativity Crushers

Sad Kid

Image by sokabs via Flickr

Article first published as How to Avoid 7 Kid Creativity Crushers on Technorati.

The call for creativity in education is picking up steam. Educators around the globe are inventing new, innovative modes of teaching to help build creative thinking skills. In order for creativity to take hold, parents need to model creative behaviors at home. Sometimes, figuring out what not to do sheds light on the best practices to employ. Here are 7 surefire ways to crush a child’s creativity. These are based on research by Amabile and Hennessey (1992):

  1. Surveillance – putting your kids under a microscope and making them feel like they’re being watched
  2. Evaluation – judging your kids performance
  3. Read more of this post