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Can creativity be taught?
All humans have a mindful capability for creative thought. Unleashing it is dependent on how we're taught to go about the creative process.
- Divergent thinking is a fundamental aspect of creative teaching.
- Studies have found that there are a number of valid teaching methods that inspire creativity in their students, regardless of what field they're in.
- Ordinary modes of education are not conducive towards developing creativity if they do not employ methods like divergent thinking and also allow mistakes to be made while learning.
Creative intelligence is the ability to observe or act with any of the senses, enact mimicry to a certain fidelity and then through repetition make that thought, action or idea your own before you can then develop it to new places it's never gone before.
The creative spirit and process is something that is highly sought after. For writers and artists, the concept has even been deified as the Muses. Nowadays it's not just the eccentrics and poets looking to get a creative hit, but also business people and regular students seeking out that creative magic.
It's a process that, for a while, many people didn't think could be taught. It's more than a set of skills or behaviors within a predefined set of parameters. It's mysterious and novel. Creativity manifests when somebody has mastered a subject or skill and then needs to invent a new solution to a problem that couldn't be overcome with any previous method.While it's difficult to teach someone a new creative solution, it is possible to instill the fundamentals so that a person may go on and become creative in their own right.
Analyzing creative teaching systems
Photo: Wikimedia Commons
A creative mindset can be taught, but not from sitting in a lecture hall or taking a standardized test.
In the early 21st century, researchers from the University of Oklahoma set out to analyze a number of different creative teaching systems. They set out to learn how different training programs helped foster and spur creativity, and published their findings in the Creativity Research Journal:
Over the course of the last half century, numerous training programs intended to develop creativity capacities have been proposed. In this study, a quantitative meta-analysis of program evaluation efforts was conducted. Based on 70 prior studies, it was found that well-designed creativity training programs typically induce gains in performance with these effects generalizing across criteria, settings, and target populations. Moreover, these effects held when internal validity considerations were taken into account.
Observations of these teaching methods showed that there was an effective increase in successfully developing cognitive skills that helped students apply a creative mindset during realistic exercises.
Although creative trainings differ in scope and the field they're trying to train people in, the authors found a few fundamental trends for successful programs. Most successful creativity training shares a common foundation: divergent thinking. They write:
We refer to the notion of divergent thinking or the capacity to generate multiple alternative solutions as opposed to the one correct solution… The evidence accrued over the last 50 years does suggest that divergent thinking, as assessed through open ended tests such as consequences and alternative uses, where responses are scored for fluency (number of responses), flexibility (category shifts in response), originality (uniqueness of responses), and elaboration (refinement of responses), does represent a distinct capacity contributing to both creative problem solving and many forms of creative performance.
The authors have identified divergent thinking as something that is fundamental towards teaching and recording creative ability. But that's just one part of creative abilities.
Methods for how to teach creativity
Thinking outside the box has become such a cliched maxim that we take for granted how important it is to be able to come up with far out ideas for solving problems. Methods for teaching creativity are just as vast and varied as the act of creation itself.
Here are a number of tried and true methods that have been able to light a creative spark for many people throughout the years.
The Osborne-Parnes model is a very popular system used in educational and business settings. It's split into six steps, each one bringing with it a divergent thinking pattern to challenge status quo ideas.
- Identifying a goal or objective.
- Gathering data.
- Clarifying a problem.
- Generating ideas.
- Evaluating ideas.
- Creating a plan to implement ideas.
Diverge and converge
Designing assignments that have both divergent and convergent ways of thinking. For example, standardized tests are a great way of measuring analytical thinking (convergent) by relying on deduction and answering for one correct response. A mix of divergent questioning would be tremendously helpful for creativity testing.
Build a congenial learning environment
Creative thinking is one of collaboration and bouncing ideas off of others in a social setting. Promote student's creativity by validating their off-hand ideas that go beyond the subject matter.
Try the incubation model by E. Paul Torrance
It has three stages which include: Making connections between classroom work and real life situations, engage curriculum in multiple ways, extend learning opportunities outside of classroom settings.
Applying these methods in a focused manner can be a surefire way to get the creative flames rising.
Louis R. Mobley’s IBM school for creativity
It was in 1956 that Louis R. Mobley was tasked with turning IBM's executives into creative powerhouses. The executive school was built around six insights that Mobley came up with for inspiring and teaching creativity.
- Traditional teaching methods are useless for encouraging creativity.
- Becoming creative is more about unlearning than learning a new process.
- We don't learn to be creative, we learn to become creative people through action and transforming ourselves in the experience.
- Creative people beget other creative people. Basically, hang out with other creatives and watch what they do and how they think.
- Self-knowledge is imperative if you're to overcome your own limiting biases.
- Give yourself the permission to be wrong and to fail. There are no bad or wrong ideas, just ones that just aren't quite there.
The process isn't going to be easy and learning to be creative is still going to be difficult. Some are more apt to it than others, but there is no doubt that the seeds of the imagination can be taught and passed down to others.
Ever since we've had the technology, we've looked to the stars in search of alien life. It's assumed that we're looking because we want to find other life in the universe, but what if we're looking to make sure there isn't any?
Here's an equation, and a rather distressing one at that: N = R* × fP × ne × f1 × fi × fc × L. It's the Drake equation, and it describes the number of alien civilizations in our galaxy with whom we might be able to communicate. Its terms correspond to values such as the fraction of stars with planets, the fraction of planets on which life could emerge, the fraction of planets that can support intelligent life, and so on. Using conservative estimates, the minimum result of this equation is 20. There ought to be 20 intelligent alien civilizations in the Milky Way that we can contact and who can contact us. But there aren't any.
Building a personal connection with students can counteract some negative side effects of remote learning.
- Not being able to engage with students in-person due to the pandemic has presented several new challenges for educators, both technical and social. Digital tools have changed the way we all think about learning, but George Couros argues that more needs to be done to make up for what has been lost during "emergency remote teaching."
- One interesting way he has seen to bridge that gap and strengthen teacher-student and student-student relationships is through an event called Identity Day. Giving students the opportunity to share something they are passionate about makes them feel more connected and gets them involved in their education.
- "My hope is that we take these skills and these abilities we're developing through this process and we actually become so much better for our kids when we get back to our face-to-face setting," Couros says. He adds that while no one can predict the future, we can all do our part to adapt to it.
Frequent shopping for single items adds to our carbon footprint.
- A new study shows e-commerce sites like Amazon leave larger greenhouse gas footprints than retail stores.
- Ordering online from retail stores has an even smaller footprint than going to the store yourself.
- Greening efforts by major e-commerce sites won't curb wasteful consumer habits. Consolidating online orders can make a difference.
A pile of recycled cardboard sits on the ground at Recology's Recycle Central on January 4, 2018 in San Francisco, California.
Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images<p>A large part of the reason is speed. In a competitive market, pure players use the equation, <em>speed + convenience</em>, to drive adoption. This is especially relevant to the "last mile" GHG footprint: the distance between the distribution center and the consumer.</p><p>Interestingly, the smallest GHG footprint occurs when you order directly from a physical store—even smaller than going there yourself. Pure players, such as Amazon, are the greatest offenders. Variables like geographic location matter; the team looked at shopping in the UK, the US, China, and the Netherlands. </p><p>Sadegh Shahmohammadi, a PhD student at the Netherlands' Radboud University and corresponding author of the paper, <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2020/02/26/tech/greenhouse-gas-emissions-retail/index.html" target="_blank">says</a> the above "pattern holds true in countries where people mostly drive. It really depends on the country and consumer behavior there."</p><p>The researchers write that this year-and-a-half long study pushes back on previous research that claims online shopping to be better in terms of GHG footprints.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"They have, however, compared the GHG emissions per shopping event and did not consider the link between the retail channels and the basket size, which leads to a different conclusion than that of the current study."</p><p>Online retail is where convenience trumps environment: people tend to order one item at a time when shopping on pure player sites, whereas they stock up on multiple items when visiting a store. Consumers will sometimes order a number of separate items over the course of a week rather than making one trip to purchase everything they need. </p><p>While greening efforts by online retailers are important, until a shift in consumer attitude changes, the current carbon footprint will be a hard obstacle to overcome. Amazon is trying to have it both ways—carbon-free and convenience addicted—and the math isn't adding up. If you need to order things, do it online, but try to consolidate your purchases as much as possible.</p><p>--</p><p><em>Stay in touch with Derek on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/derekberes" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/DerekBeresdotcom" target="_blank">Facebook</a> and <a href="https://derekberes.substack.com/" target="_blank">Substack</a>. His next book is</em> "<em>Hero's Dose: The Case For Psychedelics in Ritual and Therapy."</em></p>
Chronic irregular sleep in children was associated with psychotic experiences in adolescence, according to a recent study out of the University of Birmingham's School of Psychology.