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Creativity Is Currency

Posted on Mar 9, 2014 by

testing is so old school

I’m really not going to spend time bashing standardized testing.  No one loves it, but for some reason, we can’t figure out another way to measure if kids learn their facts.  What confuses me, is if everyone is so darn unhappy about this testing, why can’t we just get a little creative and come up with a fantastic new plan?

Oh yeah, we can’t get creative, because it was kind of squashed out of us while we were in school preparing for the standardized tests.  Furthermore, the people in charge of making the testing rules are the ones who filled in all the answer bubbles correctly.  They went to law school and became educational policy experts! 


Paint By Numbers Education

While our children are very young, we marvel at their creativity and cherish their imaginations.  Every child has a sense of wonder that we sadly watch fade.  They eventually grow to understand the laws of reality and the Tooth Fairy stops visiting.

But there’s more to it.  Creativity and imagination remain in all of them, but they are not highly valued assets once they begin their Paint By Numbers education.

I love this thought from Jen Medbery of Fast Company:

What if quizzes measured kids’ ability to question, instead of correct answers?

The biggest problem is that after working so hard to receive this education, they enter the real world which has a remarkable resemblance to a Blank Canvas.  Can they suddenly get creative again and fill it with originality and confidence?  Have our schools taught them enough to be gritty and thrive?  Have they learned to use their creativity to innovate and solve actual problems?  That question is up for debate, and as with most hard questions, the answer is probably yes and no…


The Curse of the Smart Phone

An unintended “problem” with the Smart Phone (and most all technology for that matter) is that it can answer all of our questions.  Immediately.  Last year a father of one of my kindergartners hung out with us one day, which was great.  We read a chapter in a book that mentioned an animal called a “pine mouse.”

It was one of those authentic opportunities teachers wait for so they can give children questions rather than answers.  I wondered out loud what a pine mouse looked like, made a couple of guesses, and suggested that we could do some research. The children were primed to act on their genuine curiosity!

You know what I’m going to say…Dad whipped out his phone and showed the class several Google images of the pine mouse.  Mystery solved.  Game over.  Thinking averted.

Be careful not to cheat children out of wondering and taking risks.  It is a great new world, but children continue to need patience, and to learn a variety of methods to answer their questions besides “Google it, Dad!”  Children should have a bit of time in order to experience the process of asking and hypothesizing possibilities before being handed an answer.  All I’m saying is, those tough things that we all learn good things from, are harder to find with the internet making things so easy.


Creativity Is Currency

Daniel Pink talked about what kind of thinking will rule the future work force in his book A Whole New Mind.  It’s not the brains that know a lot of things.  If it can be documented, automated or taught to others, knowledge is not that valuable.  It’s the brains that can see pattern, put unrelated ideas together, and wrap it with meaning and emotion that will be hired.  Pink says consumers around the world are basically choking on choices and abundance.  Minds who can rise above ordinary and make something matter to people are who will rule the workforce.  They not only are boundary crossers and creative, they also have an Emotional Intelligence that understands other people.

Creativity and empathy are not just nice, they are currency.  Is your school teaching that?

Another important voice in the debate about creativity in the workforce is  Jim Collins, who talks about the Hedgehog Concept.  Jim talks about how it used to be generally understood that in a competitive world you had to be better than the competition.  Today, however, the best way to be successful in a competitive world is not to compete, but stand out.  Be unique.  Does his idea apply to more than just business?  Well, if you really think about it, we all are selling something…


Measuring Goodness

Schools and teachers are graded on their students’ performances on standardized tests. It’s often the first criteria when parents begin their searches for “Good Schools.”   Just as we all know that there is more to a child than their test scores, there is much more to a school and it’s teachers than their test scores as well.  Isn’t that just common sense?  It’s just that as a culture, we are consumed with measuring things.  It’s made us think of education as a race.  Literally.

As teachers set out to help all children gather reading, writing, and math skills, our culture must also place value on the importance of the relationships between teacher and child.  Having a mentor that notices a child’s individuality teaches something that cannot be measured.  Teachers can make powerful positive memories that stay with children throughout their lives by helping them find and develop their different interests and abilities.  A good teacher can teach a child the goodness of different.  How to think differently.  Express themselves differently.  And… appreciate and respect differences in others.

Cultivating differences AND teaching to the test.  This is another way to say,

Even though we show you the path to walk on, we want you to jump into the grass and play!








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