Wednesday, December 20, 2006

In Houston, Art Is Where the Home Is

[17 December 2006 - New York Times] On a strangely balmy late autumn afternoon, while the art world busied itself in Miami with beachfront reservations and limo drivers, Rick Lowe was, as he generally is, on Holman Street in southeast Houston’s predominantly black Third Ward, greeting another out-of-towner. In the gloaming, decrepit houses and weedy lots dotted some surrounding blocks, on the edges of which were new double-garage brick homes -- signs of encroaching gentrification, an unwanted side effect of Mr. Lowe’s work. Although it’s hard to tell at a glance, this stretch of Holman may be the most impressive and visionary public art project in the country -- a project that is miles away, geographically and philosophically, from Chelsea and Art Basel and the whole money-besotted paper-thin art scene. Mr. Lowe, a lanky, amiable, remarkably youthful-looking 45-year-old artist from Alabama, moved to Houston 21 years ago and lives here in the Third Ward, where he founded Project Row Houses. In 1990, “a group of high school students came over to my studio,” he recalled. “I was doing big, billboard-size paintings and cutout sculptures dealing with social issues, and one of the students told me that, sure, the work reflected what was going on in his community, but it wasn’t what the community needed. If I was an artist, he said, why didn't I come up with some kind of creative solution to issues instead of just telling people like him what they already knew. That was the defining moment that pushed me out of the studio.” He tried to think afresh what it meant to be a truly political artist, beyond devising the familiar agitprop, gallery decoration and plop-art-style public sculpture. He considered what the German artist Joseph Beuys once described as “the enlarged conception of Art,” which includes, as Beuys put it, “every human action.” Life itself might be a work of art, Mr. Lowe realized: art can be the way people live. More

Museums Are Key to Britain's Success

[13 December 2006 - - London] A report published today, Museums and Galleries in Britain: Economic, Social and Creative Impacts, by Tony Travers of the London School of Economics, finds that “the UK’s museums and galleries could, with greater capacity to expand and improve, allow this country to be a world leader in creativity and scholarship.” The report, jointly commissioned by the National Museum Directors’ Conference (NMDC) and the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA), analyses a number of Britain’s leading museums and galleries in terms of visitor numbers, economic impacts, civic functions, and contributions to the country?s creativity and educational performance. Mark Wood, Chair of the MLA Board, said: “The MLA welcomes this research as a robust and academic assessment of the economic and social value of museums and galleries in Britain. Although it is clear that there is much to be proud of, particularly the impact of the Renaissance programme and other initiatives designed to develop wider audiences, the report does include some pertinent insights into the continuing need for long term investment in museums and galleries to ensure that the high quality services offered to all persist.” More

Positive Moods Increase Creativity and Observation, Study Says

[18 December 2006 - Bloomberg] People in positive moods absorb more information and are more creative, says a study to be published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. When people are in good moods, compared with neutral or negative ones, they change the way they perceive their surroundings, according to the study's author Adam Anderson, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Toronto in Toronto. "You can actually put people into a more creative mindset by putting them in a positive mood,'' he said. Past studies had linked positive emotions and creativity, Anderson said. His study in this week's edition of PNAS focuses on showing for the first time that "positive mood changes our capacity to see and increases our capacity to take in information in our world,'' he said. More

The long-awaited follow-up to Gallup's "First, Break All the Rules"

[19 December 2006 - The Gallup Organization] How do great managers inspire top performance in employees? How do they generate enthusiasm, unite disparate personalities to focus on a common mission, and drive teams to achieve ever-higher goals? More than a decade ago, The Gallup Organization combed through its database of more than 1 million employee and manager interviews to identify the elements most important in sustaining workplace excellence. These elements were revealed in the 1999 bestseller First, Break All the Rules. 12: The Elements of Great Managing is that book’s long-awaited sequel. It follows great managers as they harness employee engagement to turn around a failing call center, save a struggling hotel, improve patient care in a hospital, maintain production through power outages, and successfully face a host of other challenges in settings around the world. Gallup’s study now includes 10 million employee and manager interviews spanning 114 countries and conducted in 41 languages. In 12, authors Rodd Wagner and James K. Harter weave the latest Gallup insights with recent discoveries in the fields of neuroscience, game theory, psychology, sociology, and economics. Written for managers and employees of companies large and small, 12 explains what every company needs to know about creating and sustaining employee engagement. More

A Study of Hope

[15 December 2006 - Motivation Matters blog] If you believe that intrinsic motivation is a prerequisite for success in school, then you should check out a research effort spearheaded by Mark Van Ryzin, a teaching assistant at the University of Minnesota's College of Education and Human Development. The effort is called the Hope Study and it aims to determine whether motivation to learn increases when schools give students more autonomy, a greater sense of belonging, and more opportunities to pursue individual goals. The study is relatively small, with about 40 schools participating this school year. But that number was just three schools in 2004 when the study was started. The vast majority of the participants are secondary charter schools, not regular district schools. More

Friday, December 15, 2006

'Thinking Skills' in Islamic Education

[12 December 2006 - The American Muslim - By Jeremy Henzell-Thomas] Increasing emphasis is being placed on ‘Thinking Skills’ in Western education systems, either as a specific program or as a strand ideally woven into all subject areas. In the UK, for example, one of the factors behind this development is the justifiable concern that the national curriculum has progressively abandoned the philosophy and practice of holistic education and is now dominated by a narrow concept of ‘schooling’ (and its associated testing regime) geared disproportionately to uninspiring utilitarian objectives. Tony Blair has made it clear on more than one occasion that it is the provision of a 'workforce’ to drive forward national economic performance which is the top priority in his vision of 'education’. The negative effect of this target-driven schooling regime on the morale of schoolchildren has been well documented. Disaffection and truancy are rife, and self-harm, depression and even suicide are increasing alarmingly amongst young people. In his challenging book, Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling, New York State Teacher of the Year John Taylor Gatto makes a powerful indictment of the assumptions and structures which underlie modern state schooling in the USA and exposes the same deadening utilitarian agenda which informs British educational policy - an agenda geared to turning children into cogs in an economic machine, children who are dependent, conforming, materialistic, and lacking in curiosity, creativity, imagination, self-knowledge, and powers of intellectual inquiry and reflection. The thrust for Thinking Skills education has largely focused on the development within schools of a teaching and learning culture which promotes 'Critical and Creative Thinking’. This is a welcome development in many ways, and it has to be said that there is a particularly pressing need to revive such a teaching and learning culture in the Muslim world. More

A Peace Prize for Iraq: The Economist's Solution to the War

Sometimes, thinking differently is required. This sparks a very different way of considering alternative outcomes. It also prompts one to ask new kinds of "what ifs" and potential consequences questions ...
[13 December 2006 - - by Dean Baker] The events of the last week should have dashed any hopes that the Iraq Study Group's (ISG) plan would lead to a quick US withdrawal from Iraq and an end to the violence. President Bush has made it clear that he will not accept the ISG plan for a phased withdrawal of troops. Even if he did accept the ISG plan, it is not clear how much longer US troops would remain in Iraq, nor that the plan would lead to an end to the civil war. Some new thinking is clearly in order. John Schmitt, my colleague at the Center for Economic and Policy Research, has risen to the occasion. He has developed an economist's solution for the war in Iraq - a $200 billion peace prize. The basic logic of the plan is very simple. At the moment, the various religious/ethnic groups in Iraq are fighting for control over Iraq and/or their particular territory in the belief that they have to protect their share of oil revenue and the other assets of the country. In other words, they have to fight to protect what they have, or to control what they think they should have. ... A prize of this magnitude would potentially mean serious money for the people of Iraq. It would be sufficient to provide almost $1,500 for every man, women, and child in the country, or $6,000 for a family of four. This is a huge sum for people in Iraq, where per capita GDP is less than $1,800 a year. The equivalent sum for the United States would be $150,000 a year for a family of four. This would be enough money to get most people's attention. If families in Iraq knew that they stood to get such large windfalls by keeping the peace, they might place considerable pressure on the militias, insurgents and jihadists to stop the killing. If the prizes were actually paid out, it would provide a huge boost to the Iraqi economy and could provide a basis for sustained economic development. More

America's Young Adults Face Serious Economic Challenges

[13 December 2006 - Demos - US] 18-34 Year Olds Confronted with New Financial Obstacles Not Experienced by Previous Generation ... Today's young adults are feeling the full, deep impact of a massive shift in the US economy, and are no longer able to start and sustain a family, build a career and grow assets in the same manner as the previous generation, according to a new report series published today by Demos, a national, nonpartisan public policy center. The new five-part "Young Adult Economics Series" shows that America's young people are feeling the full effect of a 30-year shift from an industrial to technology- and service-based U.S. economy. The series shows that the combination of stagnant wage growth, growing debt, and high costs of education, homeownership and healthcare are new realities. These are now common factors that challenge the ability of America's 20-and 30-somethings to start, and sustain, an economically stable adult life. "Young people today are being hit by a one-two economic punch," said Tamara Draut, director of the Economic Opportunity Program at Demos and author of the series as well as a book entitled "Strapped: Why America's 20-and 30-Somethings Can't Get Ahead". "For the young generation of workers, the economy no longer generates widespread opportunity and security, and our public policies haven't evolved to pick up any of the slack. In fact, many of the problems we see today are a direct result of a disinvestment in the policy investments meant to ensure that the opportunity ladder is firmly in place." "This research shows that, unless we address these problems--and we can--this will likely be the first generation to not surpass the living standards of their parents." The series provides a comprehensive portrait of the economic status of today's young adults--and offers policy solutions that Congress and state legislatures can act on. More

Is Creativity a Foreign Concept?

[Fall 2006 - MIT Sloan Management Review - A brief synopsis of Cultural Barriers and Mental Borders: Multicultural Learning Experiences Facilitate Creativity (working paper, 2006) by William W. Maddux and Adam D. Galinsky] William W. Maddux, assistant professor of organizational behavior at INSEAD and Adam D. Galinsky, associate professor of management and organization at Northwestern's Kellogg School of Management, conducted four studies of students placed in situations requiring creative insights. The first two studies revealed that graduate students were more likely to find innovative solutions to tricky problems and negotiations if they had lived abroad for some time. "It's not enough to go backpacking around Europe for a week or two," explains Galinsky. "You really need to immerse yourself in the culture to get this serendipitous boost in creativity.” In fact, it took about six to 12 months of overseas living to get any benefit. Thereafter, a bigger boost came from students who had lived abroad at least two or three years. The studies also confirmed that overseas living experience made a difference, even when controlling for important personality traits, such as “openness to new experiences.” These findings imply that companies can get the most out of their teams by rotating employees to new regions or by emphasizing foreign-living experiences in the hiring process. It is also likely that immersion in different cultures, not necessarily different nations, is the important factor; the more diverse the culture, the better. "If you think of culture as a continuum,” Maddux speculates, "the farther you get from your own particular culture, the more creative you're more likely to get." More

Science and Engineering Visualization Challenge

[December 2006 - National Science Foundation] Some of science’s most powerful statements are not made in words. From the diagrams of DaVinci to Hooke’s microscopic bestiary, the beaks of Darwin’s finches, Rosalind Franklin’s x-rays or the latest photographic marvels retrieved from the remotest galactic outback, visualization of research has a long and literally illustrious history. To illustrate is, etymologically and actually, to enlighten. You can do science without graphics. But it’s very difficult to communicate it in the absence of pictures. Indeed, some insights can only be made widely comprehensible as images. How many people would have heard of fractal geometry or the double helix or solar flares or synaptic morphology or the cosmic microwave background if they had been described solely in words? To the general public, whose support sustains the global research enterprise, these and scores of other indispensable concepts exist chiefly as images. They become part of the essential iconic lexicon. And they serve as a source of excitement and motivation for the next generation of researchers. The National Science Foundation (NSF) and Science created the Science and Engineering Visualization Challenge to celebrate that grand tradition -- and to encourage its continued growth. In a world where science literacy is dismayingly rare, illustrations provide the most immediate and influential connection between scientists and other citizens, and the best hope for nurturing popular interest. Indeed, they are now a necessity for public understanding of research developments: In an increasingly graphics-oriented culture, where people acquire the majority of their news from TV and the World Wide Web, a story without a vivid and intriguing image is often no story at all. We urge you and your colleagues to contribute to the next competition and to join us in congratulating the winners. Judges appointed by the National Science Foundation and the journal Science will select winners in each of five categories: photographs, illustrations, informational graphics, interactive media and non-interactive media. The winners will be published in a special section of the September 28, 2007 issue of the journal Science and Science Online and on the NSF website. One of the winners' entry will be on the front cover of Science. In addition, each finalist will receive a free one-years' print and on-line subscription to the journal Science and a certificate of appreciation. Entries for 2007 are being solicited now. We urge all researchers and science communicators to participate in this unique and inspiring competition. More

Visualizing Science / Creativity / Pollock, Painting, and Fractals

[15 December 2006 - Science Friday - NPR] Sometimes, science can be hard to grasp -- and a good way to visualize a scientific topic can make all the difference. In this hour, we'll talk about a contest in which scientists are asked to present their best ways of visualizing their work -- whether it be a photograph, a painting, a movie, a computer simulation, or some other visual tool. You can see a slideshow of last year's winners, and learn more about entering this year's contest at the website for the Science and Engineering Visualization Challenge. Entries are being accepted until May 31, 2007. Then, we'll turn to the question of just what creativity really is. From a soulful poem to an ingenious experiment, what sparks the creative process? Join Ira in this hour for a conversation with neuroscientist Nancy Andreasen about the creative and creating brain. How can we teach kids to be more creative? Finally, a look at how some physicists are trying to analyze the authenticity of Jackson Pollock paintings using fractals. Fractals are patterns which recur even when viewed at finer and finer magnifications, building up complex structures. Fractals can be found in the branching of a tree or the ripples of a coastline -- but can they be found in seemingly random paint drips and streaks? In 1999, Richard Taylor and colleagues argued that the paintings of Jackson Pollock showed what they termed 'fractal expressionism.' Other researchers have challenged the findings, arguing in the journal Nature that "the paintings exhibit fractal characteristics over too small a range to be usefully considered as fractal." We'll talk about the idea, and what it might mean. Can you 'fingerprint' a Pollock using fractals? Call in with your questions and comments at 1-800-989-8255 (3-4 Eastern). Teachers, find more information about using Science Friday as a classroom resource in the Kids' Connection. More

Nobel Idea: Ellen Casey teaches her students to give peace a chance.

[1 December 2006 - Teacher Magazine] The 1st grade teacher’s inspiration came in 1997, when she heard the Dalai Lama speak at a gathering of teenagers in Denver. As the Tibetan religious leader -- whom the Chinese forced into exile in 1959 -- emphasized the importance of peaceful conflict resolution, Ellen Casey recognized a learning opportunity for her students. "Peace, tolerance, and nonviolence should be a part of life when children are very young," says Casey, who works at Steele Elementary School in Colorado Springs. She began teaching her students about the Dalai Lama -- asking them, for example, whether they think he is angry that the Chinese invaded Tibet. The lesson: It's OK to feel anger, but not to act on it. More

Keeping college students in Macon will help city's economy, Mercer students say

[15 December 2006 - Macon Telegraph] Keeping college students in Macon and attracting creative minds to the city will help it flourish economically, a group of Mercer University students said Thursday. "What a place has to do is realize ... that a university is the strongest driver in a creative economy," senior Alex Morrison told the Greater Macon Chamber of Commerce's board of directors. Connecting area colleges and developing a partnership with the city will foster economic development, he said. The idea comes from the students' own research for their senior capstone course, taught by Associate Vice President Peter Brown. The course, required for graduation from Mercer's College of Liberal Arts, is intended to help students focus on social and ethical issues. More

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Museums prove a bigger draw than football attraction than football

[14 December 2006 - The Independent (UK)] More people visited museums and galleries than attended all of league football including the Premiership last year, according to a report by the respected analyst Tony Travers. He estimated the annual economic benefit of the UK's major museums and galleries at £1.5bn with roughly £1 in every £1,000 in the UK economy directly related to the sector. But Mr Travers, of the London School of Economics, warned that theinstitutions would need extra money if they were going to continue to deliver and not fall behind heavily funded international competitors. ... The report, Museums and Galleries in Britain: Economic, Social and Creative Impacts, was commissioned by the National Museum Directors' Conference and the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council in the run- up to the next Comprehensive Spending Review where cuts are threatened. Its message on the significance of museums and galleries to the British economy as well as to the national well-being will be stressed in negotiations. More

Creative economy stressed

[12 December 2006 - Berkshire Eagle] On Monday, December 11, Gov.-elect Deval L. Patrick's transition team convened a community forum on the creative economy and economic development in Pittsfield, Massachusetts -- "one of several that Patrick's transition team is holding across the state this month to solicit public comment on a variety of topics before the new governor takes office in January." More

'Creative economy' research gets boost

[7 December 2006 - North Adams Transcript] A Massachusetts professor of economics has received a $338,000 grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services to research the impact museums have on communities. "While the anecdotal evidence seems to prove that a cultural destination can be an economic engine, [professor Stephen C.] Sheppard's research aims to provide hard facts for other communities seeking renewal through art." More

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Creativity, Education and Prison - Online Wednesday Morning

[12 December 2006 - Steve Dahlberg] I just found out that an article I wrote last month is going to be featured on Wednesday as the "Editors' Pick" article on is an online community, particularly geared toward public radio listeners.
From the Editor: On behalf of the editorial team here at Gather, I am very pleased to inform you that your article "The Right to Be Creative -- In Schools, In Prison and In Life" has been chosen as an Editors' Pick. Congratulations! Your article will be featured on the home page of on Wednesday, December 13, 2006 from 7:00 a.m.-11:00 a.m. EST.
This article was written following the opening performance of "Time In" in Hartford, which featured the words and inspiration of female prisoners from Connecticut. They were part of a creative writing class with author Wally Lamb (who has also been featured as an Oprah author). The article was also inspired by my mentor and colleague Berenice Bleedorn's work with prisoners in Minnesota in the 1980s.
"Last month I witnessed the positive impact that creativity had for a group of incarcerated women. Through a creative writing program, their creative spirits were nurtured, supported and given a voice -- where previously they'd been trampled, stifled and shredded."Time In" explores the stories of women incarcerated at York Correctional Institution in Niantic, Connecticut. This collaborative dance, song and spoken-word performance encompasses the stories of female prisoners' lives before conviction, the ceaseless presence of time in their lives on the inside, and the new lives and language they must learn as convicts. It also explores the life of the mind and spirit-- something that isn't given over to confinement in cells and boxes, like the rest of their lives are in prison. For some, the freedom of the mind is a way to maintain sanity; for others, a way to begin to imagine life after prison."
Here's the permanent link to the article, after it is featured on the home page Wednesday morning:

Where do you get your ideas?

[13 December 2006 -  Scot Herrick's WriteBlog] At a recent writers conference, I overheard lots of writers asking “where do you get your ideas to write?” Just like our readers ask us the same question. Well, if you’re looking for some good ideas on what to write in your blog, look no further than Liz over on Successful Blog. Liz offers up a holiday treasure trove of ideas to write in January, giving your 2007 a great start. More

NAEA Museum Education Division Features "Creativity" Pre-Conference Workshop in March 2007

National Art Education Association - Museum Education Division
March 13, 2007
New York, New York
Pre-Conference 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. (Reception 6:00 - 8:00 p.m.)

"The world is but a canvas to the imagination." - Henry David Thoreau

The 2007 Museum Division Pre-Conference is an opportunity to reflect, renew, and restore your creativity and imagination. This year's theme was selected to encourage us to consider how we use creativity in our jobs and how museums may creatively inspire our visitors. Featured keynote speakers for the morning session at the Metropolitan Museum of Art are Eric Booth and Dr. Michael Hanchett Hanson. Eric Booth, director of the Mentoring Program at The Julliard School, is the author of The Everyday Work of Art. Dr. Hanson, Director of the Masters Concentration in Creativity and Cognition at Teachers College, Columbia University, looks at how creative meaning is constructed in different contexts and has focused his research on the roles of metaphor and irony in creative thinking. Following the morning session, participants may select ONE theme to follow during the afternoon:
1) Creativity and Leadership; 2)Artists and Educational Practice; 3) Technology; 4) Adult Programming; 5)Creative Parameters: Teaching in Collections; 6) Community Partnerships; 7) Building Audiences with Disabilities

Afternoon sessions will be held in various museums throughout New York City. The pre-conference will conclude with a reception hosted by the Education Department at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. More on Pre-Conference Workshop | More on NAEA Conference

Creativity: the currency of economic development

[12 December 2006 - The Chronicle Herald - Halifax, Nova Scotia - By David B. Smith, President, NSCAD University] Much has changed here in Halifax since I was an undergraduate student at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in the early 1990s. The vacant lots that once lined Lower Water Street are largely a thing of the past, and are now home to upscale condos and mixed-use developments. What used to be the inspiration for sentimental reflections on history, loss and change has been reclaimed and repurposed. ... After witnessing firsthand the perils of unbridled growth on quality-of-life issues elsewhere, I am pleasantly surprised at how well the Halifax Regional Municipality has managed. In spite of concerns surrounding increased congestion, suburban sprawl, and yes, even Sunday shopping, that very real sense of a kind and nurturing place remains largely intact. Indeed, it appears – at least on the surface – that the people of Halifax have generally adapted to change rather well, despite the many challenges associated with rapid growth. It is abundantly clear that there has been a tremendous amount of economic development in the region over the last 15 years. What is equally clear to me is that Nova Scotia universities have played a key role in the region’s growth: each of our distinct and widely acclaimed institutions plays a vital role in attracting corporate investment. Nova Scotia universities are the lifeblood of economic development as they provide both the "general" and "specific" human capital that is necessary in today’s knowledge-driven economy. Today’s global marketplace is fuelled by the exchange of ideas. Generated through continuous learning and the critical and creative exploration of perceptions and understandings, this constant exchange of ideas among a variety of disciplines and cultures is driving the economy today, and the key component in all of this is creativity. Simply stated, creativity is the currency of today’s economic development. More

Monday, December 11, 2006

Can arts boost worker creativity?

[9 December 2006 - Providence Business News] Craig Wright, director of human resources for Textron Fluid & Power, would seem to have a work force recruiting problem. For the second year in a row, he said, the United States has graduated more theater majors than engineers. But as a business leaders learned last week at an Arts & Business Council of Rhode Island forum entitled “Clobbering the Competition with Creativity,” technical skill is not the only way to success in today’s world. In the first of a two-part series, sponsored by a grant from the MetLife Foundation, Wright was one of the panelists answering questions such as, what are the best practices for companies wanting to use creativity in solving problems? and how are companies using the arts to inspire employees to be more creative? He spoke of how Textron has used creativity to find workers to replace the retiring baby boomers on the company’s staff, especially in the technical fields. More

Bright future for branding, design in South Africa

[8 December 2006 -] Gary Harwood (a director of branding company, HKLM, and chairperson of think (the South African Graphik Design Council)) is widely respected and acknowledged as a leader in the design and branding industry, and was recently awarded the University of Johannesburg's Alumni Association's highest honour, the Alumni Dignitas Award. This award has been seen as a major boost for the arts field and serves as encouragement for learners to choose design as a rewarding career option. As a career choice, he says design is hugely rewarding, challenging and thrilling - but it is an industry in which people need to work together constructively and harmoniously and with absolute respect for each other. ... "We all know that everyone has unlimited access to information these days, but it is what we do with this information and how creatively we use it that will determine our future. Creative people are going to be highly sought after - not only for their design skills but for their creative problem-solving skills too," he says.More

Interview: Richard Florida

[9 December 2006 - The Creative Coast Initiative -Savannah, Georgia] Richard Florida: "The bottom line is that any city that views every single human being within it as a creative entity is at a big advantage. The creative class is attracted to any open-minded, tolerant community that doesn't know or care about your gender or race or sexual orientation or where you were born." More

Businesses brace themselves for less-than-ready workers

[10 December 2006 - St. Louis Post-Dispatch] Everyone wishes she had taken Life Skills 101 growing up. Well, how about a course in Employment 101? How shall I say this? Businesses looking ahead to hire young people entering the super-competitive work force have some big "concerns" about the next generation. To be blunt, business has seen the work force future, and it's looking darn unprepared. That's one of the critical conclusions of a hefty study out called "Are They Really Ready To Work?" It's backed by such business groups as the Conference Board and the Society for Human Resource Management. ... Want to play in the Big Leagues of Working? Better be nimble. Better be quick. Better learn critical thinking; how to work with others; even a foreign language. And most of all? How to be creative. An innovator. ... This study finds high school grads "deficient" in most work force skills. Two-year college grads got kudos only for tech skills. Four-year college grads did better, especially in "critical thinking" and "creativity." More

Taking the other self beyond borders -- an exploration of honour

[10 December 2006 - Daily Times - Pakistan] Honour killings, the denial of political rights for women, their empowerment and encouraging creativity in expression were some of the major themes discussed on the second day of the National Commission on the Status of Women and United Nations Development Programme’s international conference 'The Other Self: Conflict, Confusion or Compromise.' The conference was concluded on Saturday by President Pervez Musharraf. More

On Creative Communities

[10 December 2006 - E-Notes] Guest Sandra Beasley writes: I’ve been thinking a lot about notions of community, particularly in the context of being a poet—an identity which, no matter how many pages I publish or conferences I attend, always seems fragile and vulnerable to contradiction. If I taught poetry for a living, would I still call myself a poet? If I married, could my foremost loyalty remain to poetry? If I went to a city where no one suspected me of writing poems…would I write poems? Creative communities fall into three types: the immediate community one shares through local events; the (inter)national community one maintains through contemporary correspondence and an occasional visit; and the remote/historical community one consults primarily through published work. I think most poets, myself included, naturally gravitate to one of these groups for our main feedback and inspiration. But sometimes a shift in community occurs, by choice or chance. The laptop breaks and you go offline for two weeks. Or you agree to start hosting an open mic in town. Or you finally find a West coast lit mag you love, or you start a blog. With a blink, your context shifts. In my case, I took on an assignment to write essays for a Companion to Twentieth Century World Poetry (edited by Vicki Arana of Howard University). Suddenly the poets I were living and breathing were Pablo Neruda and Czeslaw Milosz—big, expansive poets, passionate in their sincerity and their criticisms of the world. Poets of exile. More

Sunday, December 10, 2006

NAEA Pre-Conference Information coming on Monday, Dec. 11

[8 December 2006 - National Art Education Association] Tuesday, March 13, 2007, will be the National Art Education Association museum division pre-conference day in New York City. The theme this year is Creativity. The brochure is almost ready. There will be short version of the brochure with registration information coming through Talk Ed Museum and NAEA listservs on Monday, Dec. 11. A longer version of the brochure will be both mailed to NAEA members and emailed through the listservs mentioned before the end of December. More

Survey says CEOs concerned with future growth

[7 December 2006 - People's Daily Online - China] A survey of Chinese CEOs regard sustained and steady growth and expansion opportunities are their top challenges, showing their preoccupations are in line with international trends, according to a recent survey. The results of the survey, conducted by The Conference Board, an international survey organization, are similar to those from other countries. Finding qualified managerial talent and acquiring or developing the right talent is the second and third major challenges for CEOs in China. "The thinking of China's top executives is closely aligned with their global counterparts," said Rainer Schultheis, programme director for The Conference Board's Asia-Pacific CFO Council. "Achieving growth in revenue and profit are still the major concerns." ... The study says CEOs in China are more focused on short-term concerns than global CEOs. Short-term concerns, such as "consistent execution" of strategy by top management and excellence in execution ranked fifth and seventh among Chinese CEOs' challenges. In the global ranking, these two were not included in the top 10. Stimulating innovation, creativity, and enabling entrepreneurship were. More

Upcoming Event: Promoting Opportunity and Growth through Science, Technology, and Innovation

[4 December 2006 - The Brookings Institution - The Hamilton Project] A Hamilton Project Forum - Tuesday, December 5, 2006 - At a forum on December 5, The Hamilton Project will examine the importance of science and technology to meeting the challenges of the 21st century and introduce three new proposals to enhance U.S. expertise and competitiveness in these areas. The first panel will discuss a new strategy paper exploring the importance of investments in innovation, research and in the education of a highly skilled American workforce to fueling American growth, prosperity and competitiveness. It will also highlight papers on increasing the number of qualified U.S. students pursuing graduate degrees in science and engineering; expanding government use of prizes for innovative achievements in science and technology; and reforming and streamlining the review process for those patents offering the greatest technological and commercial impact. The second panel will explore how best to meet the challenges of an economy fueled by rapid scientific and technological advancements and how to address the increasing globalization of high-skill and high-wage technology sectors. Panelists include Hamilton Project Advisory Council Members Robert E. Rubin of Citigroup and Lawrence H. Summers of Harvard University, as well as William R. Brody, President of Johns Hopkins University, Michael Capellas, Former CEO of MCI and Compaq, and Harold Varmus, winner of the 1989 Nobel Prize for Medicine and former NIH Director, now President of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. More

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Escaping 'Average': Innovative Programs Make the Case That High-Level Classes Aren't Just for the Gifted

[28 November 2006 - Washington Post] School leaders in Seaford, Del., had noticed for some time that very few average students took the most challenging courses in the town's secondary schools. As was the case in most small school systems, many Seaford families did not expect much. Parents and teachers did not want to push kids beyond their limits. But Secondary Education Director James VanSciver and other Seaford educators became convinced that with extra help, many more students could be taking algebra in middle school and college-level courses in high school. Four years ago, they began offering special tutoring, summer classes and Saturday classes. The number of Advanced Placement classes at Seaford High swelled from four to 14. The focus on helping average students also boosted minority enrollment in the most rigorous classes. The district has about 3,400 students, 40 percent black and slightly more than half white. Through the initiative, administrators found more black students doing well and going on to college. Julius Mullen, who directs a Saturday program for young African American males in Seaford, said the students discovered they could advance if given more time and the assurance that they had their friends with them. "When expectations are raised, I think students will grab for them if they have the support programs in place," Mullen said. "They have to see their friends achieving success." Throughout the country, the desire to coax average students into high-level courses has inspired many innovations. Nearly all seek to teach students how to take notes, write papers and prepare for exams. They harness what is perhaps the greatest force in U.S. schools -- the urge to be a part of a group -- by giving the students a sense they are moving onto the college track with others who share their doubts and middling academic records. More

The Hamilton Project Announces Economic Policy Innovation Prize

[4 December 2006 - The Brookings Institution - The Hamilton Project] Cash Prizes To Be Awarded for Best Economic Proposal From Graduate and Undergraduate Students - The Hamilton Project, an initiative at the Brookings Institution, will begin awarding a new prize, "The Hamilton Project Economic Policy Innovation Prize," to select graduate and undergraduate students for innovative economic policy proposals. Peter Orszag, Director of The Hamilton Project noted: "Research suggests that prizes for specific achievements in science and technology can at times be more effective than traditional mechanisms in spurring innovation. In that spirit, we are launching this Hamilton Prize to help spur achievement among students who represent America's most important human capital—our future scientists, engineers, doctors, economists, entrepreneurs and policymakers." Both graduate and undergraduate students are invited to submit policy proposals (see submission requirements below) featuring innovative economic thinking. Proposals in the areas of education, health care, social insurance, science and technology, tax policy, energy, and saving policy are particularly welcome. The top undergraduate student will be awarded $10,000 and the top graduate student $15,000. Each will also be invited to present their policy proposals to The Hamilton Project Advisory Council. More

Tom Wujec: Using images to think and innovate

[6 December 2006 - Innovation Weblog] Over at the Business Innovation Insider Blog, Dominic Basulto has published a summary of Tom Wujec's opening presentation from the recent Fortune Innovation Forum on using images to think, innovate and drive business. Wujec is the author of one of my favorite business creativity books, Five Star Mind. Here's a PDF synopsis of his presentation. I like the way Wujec describes the emerging practice of visualization: "Visualization - making ideas visible - is becoming a vital tool to help teams think, work and collaborate better, and to foster product, service and management innovation... Visualization is the act of representing business information as images and diagrams, adding clarity, impact and persistence. These qualities provide us with powerful tools to explore, iterate and evaluate ideas - the foundations of innovation and creativity." Wujec's many examples emphasize sketching and diagramming, but this practice also includes mind mapping, which is rapidly growing in popularity. Be sure to also check out Wujec's website, which also contains examples of visual inspiration. More

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Adapt or Die: The Biological Imperative for Aging Creatives

[24 November 2006 - Gamasutra] For more than 3 billion years, biological evolution has guided the colonization of our planet by living organisms. Evolution’s rules are simple: creatures that adapt to threats and master the evolutionary game thrive; those that don’t become extinct. Just how much “mastery” has been involved in my ability to dodge an evolutionary bullet is certainly an open question but none the less, I am still in the game well beyond my projected “use by date” and at 62 years old, show no signs of “going bad” anytime soon. My point being this: to avoid self-extinction, we must develop some level of awareness that we are at risk in the first place, some way to "change the nature of the outcome." The bargain is just that simple: if we do, we survive, if we don't, we disappear. So we elder statesmen must find a way stay relevant, and if it does not exist yet, create it. Adapt or die becomes much more meaningful when you realize that the work you have taken on has lost its momentum and that the necessary internal support continues evaporating at an alarming rate. This, then, is my humble recitation of fact concerning my own evolutionary trajectory. A trajectory that has been, and I am being generous here, erratic, convoluted and not without some level of discomfort and distress. More

Young researchers urged not to rely on textbooks

[1 December 2006 - Daily Yomiuri - Japan] The importance of creativity for researchers--and the necessity of fostering it in a child's education -- was emphasized in the Fukuoka, the final session of this year's "Creativity in the 21st Century with Nobel Laureates" forum series. The theme of the Fukuoka session, held at Kyushu University school of medicine's Centennial Hall on Nov. 15, was "To Creative Younger Generations -- A Message From Scientists." Ryoji Noyori, president of RIKEN (Institute of Physical and Chemical Research), said in his keynote speech: "Why are no great scientists such as Newton and Einstein around at present? Because young researchers have a tendency to rely too much on textbooks and lectures at schools. The contents of textbooks are not necessarily correct. For example, Pluto was recently demoted from its status as a planet in the solar system. Newton studied and learned for himself. Young researchers should think up something from scratch by themselves, and put their energy into research and trying to disprove established theories," he said. More

Wednesday, December 06, 2006


"Every human being is an artist ... called to participate in transforming and reshaping the conditions, thinking and structures that shape and condition our lives." -- Joseph Beuys, German Artist

"Creativity is the experience of expressing and actualizing one's individual identity in an integrated form in communion with oneself, with nature and with other persons." -- Clark Moustakas, Psychologist and Author
"'Communion with nature' is a major force in the urge for creative expression." -- Berenice Bleedorn, Educator and Author, Education is Everybody's Business
"Who is the Man, the Artist? He is the unspoiled core of everyman before he is choked by schooling, training, conditioning until the artist shrivels up and is forgotten. ... And yet that core is never killed completely. At times it responds to Nature, to beauty, to Life, suddenly aware again of being in the presence of a Mystery that baffles understanding and which only has to be glimpsed to renew our spirit and to make us feel that life is a supreme gift." -- Frederick Franck, Author, Zen of Seeing: Seeing/Drawing as Meditation

"This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being thoroughly worn out before you are thrown on the scrap heap; the being a force of Nature instead of a feverish selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy." -- George Bernard Shaw

Change goes on. Surely the central task of our learning is not to confirm what is but to equip ourselves to meet that change and to imagine what could be ... recognizing the value in what we encounter and steadily working it into our lives and visions. -- Adapted from Mary Catherine Bateson, Anthropologist and Author, Composing a Life

"It has been said that most outstanding creative achievers seem to be possessed by a purpose and to be '[people] of destiny'." Creative people "need some purpose which is worthy of the enthusiastic devotion they seem capable of giving." -- E. Paul Torrance, Educator and Author

"People are not really afraid of dying. They're afraid of never having lived, not ever having deeply considered their life's higher purpose, and not ever having stepped into that purpose and at least tried to make a difference in this world." -- Joseph Jaworski, Author, Synchronicity: The Inner Path of Leadership

Find out more information about the "Creative Wisdom Workshop" at the Hartford Public Library.

Monday, December 04, 2006

A Creative-Class Promised Land: The Kalamazoo Promise

[1 December 2006 - Catalytic Conversations] We've spent a good deal of time on this blog talking about changing and fast-intertwining economic and education dynamics. We've reviewed Thomas Friedman's argument about the role of education in an increasingly "flat" world. We've also explored Richard Florida's argument that the rise or flight of the creative class -- dynamic, educated, and talented people staying or leaving -- is either empowering or disabling communities. Here's a stunning response from Kalamazoo, Michigan. More

High School, College Graduates Lack Basic and Applied Skills, Employers Say

[1 December 2006 - School Reform News - The Heartland Institute] High school and college graduates lack basic and applied skills, say business leaders, according to two surveys released in October. On October 2, the Conference Board, a global business membership and research organization, released the results of its survey of 431 employers on recently hired high school and college graduates. While basic knowledge and skills such as reading comprehension and mathematics were deemed important, employers said applied skills--such as work ethic, communication, collaboration, and critical thinking--are even more essential to workplace success. According to the survey, new job entrants lack both. More

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Creativity by numbers

[29 November 2006 - Spiked] The UK Creative Partnerships scheme for deprived schools seems more interested in exercising children’s bodies rather than their minds. ... ‘School should be anything but uniform’, says Creative Partnerships (CP), a £140million scheme brought in by the UK government in 2002 to put the arts back into the timetable for schools in deprived areas. CP was conceived because many teachers were complaining about the straitjacket conformism produced by grade targets, literacy hours and league tables. As former arts minister Estelle Morris said in 2003: ‘It is often said that arts and creative work in schools have been squeezed out…. There is a need to build on that and to recognise the place of arts and culture in our curriculum.’ Schools play a vital role in bringing cultural experience to the next generation. But a closer inspection of CP raises serious questions about what ‘creativity’ has come to mean today, and how teachers are supposed to engage with young people’s minds. More

The End of Ingenuity

[29 November 2006 - New York Times - Opinion] ... Without a doubt, mankind can find ways to push back these constraints on global growth with market-driven innovation on energy supply, efficient use of energy and pollution cleanup. But we probably can't push them back indefinitely, because our species' capacity to innovate, and to deliver the fruits of that innovation when and where they're needed, isn't infinite. Sometimes even the best scientific minds can't crack a technical problem quickly (take, for instance, the painfully slow evolution of battery technology in recent decades), sometimes market prices give entrepreneurs poor price signals (gasoline today is still far too cheap to encourage quick innovation in fuel-efficient vehicles) and, most important, sometimes there just isn't the political will to back the institutional and technological changes needed. We can see glaring examples of such failures of innovation even in the United States - home to the world's most dynamic economy. ... But in the larger sense, we really need to start thinking hard about how our societies - especially those that are already very rich - can maintain their social and political stability, and satisfy the aspirations of their citizens, when we can no longer count on endless economic growth. More

Intelligence agencies invest in college education

[28 November 2006 - USA Today] The U.S. intelligence community pours millions into higher education, paying for hundreds of scholarships, intelligence-related courses and fellowships at nearly a dozen universities, public documents and interviews with officials show. Last month, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) more than doubled the number of schools in its program. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is also developing a program for nuclear scientists. The sponsoring agencies, including the CIA, say the programs help ensure they get enough recruits skilled to wage the war on terrorism. The programs began in 2004. ... The programs recognize that 21st-century intelligence officers need skills that can "translate to a variety of areas," says Lenora Peters Gant, who runs the ODNI's university outreach program. "We want to hire an engineer that understands world cultures and religions and speaks Urdu and Farsi or maybe Korean. That's where (intelligence) is going." ... Intelligence recruiters also liked small Catholic schools such as Trinity University in Washington, D.C., says Robert Maguire, an international relations professor who coordinates Trinity's intelligence studies program. ... Trinity professors received stipends to revise courses and design new ones when ODNI started its first Center of Academic Excellence there in 2004. Intelligence students study creative problem solving, contemporary diplomatic history and social science research methods. More

List of Nation's Top Emerging Gay Ghettos Announced

[28 November 2006 -] Whether or not you subscribe to Richard Florida's "creative class" theory, where the gays go eventually so do higher property values, less crime, better schools, ethnic diversity and growth. In that vane, in partnership with, the leading resource for gay-friendly real estate transactions, has announced its inaugural list of the nation’s top up-and-coming "gay ghettos." President Jeffery Hammerberg defines gay ghettos for their "richness of diversity -- like a colorful tapestry -- that makes these neighborhoods such a wonderful place." Many gay ghettos are locations of revitalization and renaissance in the cities where they are located. They are likely more affordable than the present "gay-borhood" and ripe for investment and community building. The list is presented in regional and alphabetical order. More

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Dishing: Keep Those I's on the Prize

[November 2006 - Media Magazine] News flash: there may be no "I" in team, but there most certainly is one in media. In fact, there are three: insight, ideas, and innovation. With the sweeping pace of change in the media landscape, this triple-I combo spells the new core competencies in our industry. They are the catalysts for success and the launch pads for the fast track. In other words, they're "must have" ingredients for communications platforms that combine content with context so compellingly that they capture consumer attention amid increasing clutter, noise, distractions, time scarcity, consumer control, and every other sky-is-falling trend bemoaned at media conferences. Fortunately, the three I's are all members of one family - born of the same gene pool, sharing common DNA. That DNA has creativity at its core - the ability to develop a new thought, find new connections, and establish new links between existing concepts. More

Creative industries forum kicks off in Singapore

[27 November 2006 - People's Daily Online - China] A global forum for creative industries, Beyond 2006, one of a series of events of month-long Creative 2006 programs to showcase and promote Singapore's creative sector, was kicked off in Singapore Monday. "Many countries see the creative industries as a key competitive advantage in the globalized economy. Ideas and imagination have become valuable assets and drivers of economic opportunities and growth," Lee Boon Yang, Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts, said at the opening ceremony of the forum. "Singapore cannot be any different," he said, adding "We must harness creativity and the power of innovation to forge ahead in a globalized economy." The two-day forum of Beyond 2006 is a platform to provide opportunities for the domestic and international leading creative icons to exchange creative ideas. More

Pressing need for creative economy

[27 November 2006 - China Daily] First there was the "new economy," then there was the "knowledge economy," and now we have the "creative economy." Call it what you will, but the nation is arguably attaching more importance to "chuangyi" (creativity) to restructure its economy. In big cities like Beijing and Shanghai, massive material and political resources have been devoted to what leaders term "Chuangyi jingji" (creative economy) as a key strategic element for advancing the cities' development. As a name, the "Chuangyi" economy is hardly as clear as knowledge economy, but "Chuangyi" does points to one important dimension that the nation needs to pay particular attention to. More

Monday, November 20, 2006

Bill Cosby on Teachers

[7 November 2006 - Teacher Magazine] Bill Cosby made headlines last week after giving a speech in Los Angeles about education, with news outlets reporting that he had criticized teachers and parents for not doing enough to help kids. The comedian, who holds a doctorate in education from the University of Massachusetts, has been outspoken in recent years about what the black community needs to do to close the racial achievement gap. But Cosby says his comments about teachers were taken out of context. Rather than attacking teachers, he says, he meant only to urge them to explain to kids why they love the subjects they teach. Cosby gives his side of the story. More (in audio interview)

Monday, November 13, 2006

Some Dark Thoughts on Happiness

[17 July 2006 -New York Magazine] More and more psychologists and researchers believe they know what makes people happy. But the question is, does a New Yorker want to be happy? More

Friday, November 10, 2006


[31 October 2006 - Change Agency blog] It is about power. Passive reception of information for the sole purpose of regurgitation is extremely uninspiring and unengaging -- and disempowering -- because it doesn't challenge students on deeper levels. But, even more so, passive reception of information reinforces traditional power structures. What David is describing is creative work — students working with information in a creative manner that allows them to feel empowered. They are able to work with the information using tools that have the potential to allow students to be authors, artists, architects. I have had similar experiences in the classroom with students becoming/feeling more empowered by the technology. I have seen students who "create problems" in other classrooms, become "creators" of multimedia products, animations, video productions, and graphic design products when provided with the tools and the knowledge of how to use the tools to manipulate and communicate information to an audience. I’ve seen students who are otherwise uninterested in school stay after school for hours in order to produce documentary videos for a history class or -- even more powerful -- to develop marketing presentations and videos to market our school to incoming students. ... Of course, I expect to hear the argument that “if the students don't know basic facts and information FIRST, then they can’t work creatively because creative work involves analysis and synthesis of information!” However, so many people in education are relying so much on that argument that pushing students to be more critical and creative isn't even on their radar screens. We are settling for the minimum instead of pushing our students more deeply into their learning.We need to stop settling and begin engaging our students in more empowering, creative, and meaningful learning/work. More

Cities known for creativity working to attract visitors worldwide

[6 November 2006 - USA Today] Representatives from nine places designated as "creative cities" by the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization met in Santa Fe in late October to brainstorm about "creative tourism," according to the Santa Fe New Mexican newspaper. ... "It's not passive tourism," says Santa Fe City Councilor Rebecca Wurzburger. "You're coming to engage in a community, to learn about its culture experientially. That's been a very strong theme with every single one of these cities." More

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Innovating With ... Google for Educators

[Google] Google recognizes the central role that teachers play in breaking down the barriers between people and information, and we support educators who work each day to empower their students and expand the frontiers of human knowledge. This website is one of the ways we're working to bolster that support and explore how Google and educators can work together. As a start, we're inviting you to share your best ideas for using technology to innovate in the classroom. More

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Re-inventing invention: new tendencies in capitalist commodification

[May 2006 - Economy and Society - By Nigel Thrift, Oxford] This paper argues that a shift is taking place in the fabric of capitalism as a  result of a change in how the business of invention is understood. Using theoretical approaches that rely on the notion that capitalism  increasingly tries to draw in the whole intellect, in the first part of the paper I argue that the new understanding of innovation currently shows up as three associated developments: as the mobilization of forethought, as the deepening of the lure of the commodity through the co-creation of commodities with consumers, and as the construction of different kinds of apparently more innovative space suffused with information technology. The second part of the paper then argues that these disclosures are leading to new forms of value, based on generating moments of rightness. There is a brief conclusion. More (PDF)

Monday, November 06, 2006

International collaboration to transform education announced

[8 September, 2006 - Futurelab - on eGov Monitor] Futurelab, the UK's leading education innovators, and the Singapore government agency, Infocomm Development Authority (IDA), have announced a two-year partnership today to develop ground-breaking digital learning resources that support new approaches to teaching and learning. This international collaboration, known as iLAB 2015, draws on the creative talent, educational experience and technical expertise in both Singapore and the UK, and will lead to a range of educational tools that make learning an engaging and rewarding experience for learners of all ages and abilities. The collaboration will develop new digital learning resources as well as implement Futurelab's existing prototype technologies and research programmes in Singapore. In practice, this means that innovative resources such as Racing Academy, which uses gaming to teach engineering, and Space Mission: Ice Moon, which transforms the classroom into an Emergency Response Centre to enable collaborative learning, are likely to be introduced into Singapore schools. ... Annika Small, Chief Executive of Futurelab says: "Singapore and the UK share a vision around the potential of new technologies to radically transform educational practices by enabling more diverse and compelling learning experiences. I am delighted about the Futurelab-IDA partnership which will ensure that innovative ideas for learning resources are put into practice. Together we will produce practical examples of digital tools that foster the development of the creative, problem-solving skills needed in the 21st century." More

Sunday, November 05, 2006

A Definition of Creative Thinking

"my brain looks like a carousel on fire" (Melissa Ferrick) = the creative brain at work?

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Book Review: Improvisational Negotiation - A Mediator's Stories of Conflict

[3 August 2006 - News Blaze] Whether you are at loggerheads with your teenaged son or daughter over household chores or with your co-workers because they are a noisy lot, the problem is the same. How do you explore the difficulty you are having and come up with a compromise? Maybe, reading Jeffrey Krivis's Improvisational Negotiation: Stories of Conflict About Love, Money, Anger And The Strategies That resolved Them, by Jeffrey Krivis, can help you more creative problem solving. More

Politics of possibility

[10 August 2006 - Jerusalem Post - Opinion] Sir, - Millions of us worldwide, especially women, of every race and religion grieve for what is happening in the Middle East. We believe this violence is a failure of leadership by shortsighted men in the US, in Israel and in Arab countries who insist on using barbaric solutions. The truly courageous among us in every nation must use creative, problem-solving, human kindness and faith-filled wisdom to articulate the politics of possibility. Let it begin today. -- ANNE McCRADY, Henderson, Texas More

'Hogwash' lets kids fill in the baloney while teaching them a lesson in creativity

... [8 September 2006 - Seattle Post-Intelligencer] If you've ever been to a Theater Sports or Comedy Sports show, you understand the wacky charm of improvised theater. Now, your children can have that same experience through 'Hogwash: An Improvised Tall Tale for Small Children' at the Historic University Theater every Saturday through Oct. 28. ... 'The show is originally based on the old 'Choose Your Own Adventure' books that I used to read,' Anfinsen explains. 'You would read to Page 10 or so and it would basically ask you if you want the main character to go here or there? If here, turn to Page 40, if here, turn to Page 30. Nowadays everything is so laid out. We don't want anything to do with that. We want the kids to say 'This is what we want to happen. Don't feed us any baloney. We want the good guy to do that and the bad guy to do that.' The idea of 'Hogwash' is to encourage creative problem-solving and early arts appreciation. Kids naturally want to be part of the action. More

Company pays for creative problem solving

[16 October 2006 - The Detroit News] Q . I read an article several weeks ago about a Web site that posted questions or problems companies had for scientists and researchers to try to solve. If scientists came up with a solution, they could send it in and the Web site would contact the company. One example was a scientist who came up with a more efficient way of filling toothpaste tubes. Could you provide me with the name of the site? - S.K.E.

A . You are thinking about InnoCentive (innocentive. com), a company paying cash to creative folks who solve specific problems. Both problem solvers and solution seekers are courted by InnoCentive. Solvers must register. Some challenges are specific ('A chemical method is desired to measure carbon steel corrosion presence in a non-intrusive manner'); others, general ('A sugar substitute is needed.') More

The Workplace as Solar System

[28 October 2006 - New York Times] CLEARER THINKING Just the word “brainstorming” elicits a lot of eye rolling in most offices, writes Michael Myser in Business 2.0.

But the problem, he says, is not with the concept of brainstorming, but the way it is done.

“Most often, modern brainstorming involves a group of people sitting around a conference room, staring into space, and waiting for ideas to come. But in its true form, it’s a rigidly structured process,” he writes, adding that Alex F. Osborn, who coined the term in his 1953 book “Applied Imagination,” laid out three vital steps.

First, there needs to be a facilitator trained in drawing out the best ideas. Groups using a facilitator come up with 600 percent more ideas than those that don’t, said Scott Isaksen, founder of the Creative Problem Solving Group.

Second, there need to be clear guidelines — for example, the session will last no more than 45 minutes and criticism or judgment of the ideas that emerge should wait until the session is over.

Third, participants should prepare in advance for the session.

Given how badly it is usually done, it sounds as if most companies could use a brainstorming session to figure out how they should brainstorm. More

Nurturing inquiring minds

[28 October 2006 - Kansas City Star] “Kids look at science as something that they read and they do problems,” said Melinda Merrill, an advanced-science and gifted-education teacher at Center Middle School. “They don’t realize that it is a creative, problem-solving area that, even if they don’t go into a science career, what they learn … they can use in all their careers." More

Friday, November 03, 2006

The Right to Be Creative – In Schools, In Prison and In Life

[3 November 2006 - By Steven Dahlberg, Principal, International Centre for Creativity and Imagination, Willimantic, Connecticut, USA] Inmates forfeit many rights while they are in prison. But their “right to think and be heard” – to think creatively and express their ideas – can’t be taken away.

As artist M. C. Richards once said, “we have to realize that a creative being lives within ourselves, whether we like it or not, and that we must get out of its way, for it will give us no peace until we do.”

Educator Berenice Bleedorn’s idea about the “right to think and be heard” is a fundamental belief that we all possess creative potential, that our creativity seeks expression, and that we can deliberately unleash and harness our creative thinking for the common good.

Our creativity makes each of us individual. Applying that creativity is how we connect with others to live out our purpose in the world.

This, in fact, is what education should be helping our children discover in themselves. But anyone who cares about creativity in education knows that few schools have enough resources to support high-quality (and quantity) programs in creative thinking and the arts. And this problem has gotten worse under the testing-outcome obsession of No Child Left Behind.

At the same time, vast amounts of research and experience continue to demonstrate the positive impact of creativity on learning, understanding, engagement and development.

There is a huge disconnect between what we know to be true and helpful and good, and what we actually support and encourage. We know that creativity matters – from the childhood classroom and innovative workplaces to economic development and positive aging. The National Governors’ Association even spent an entire day earlier this year focusing on creativity and education. Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano is focusing the coming year of her NGA leadership on the “Innovation America” project. Though it’s great to see these examples on the national level, creativity is rarely a priority in policies, funding and training.

Last night I witnessed the positive impact that creativity had for a group of incarcerated women. Through a creative writing program, their creative spirits were nurtured, supported and given a voice – where previously they’d been trampled, stifled and shredded.

Time In” explores the stories of women incarcerated at York Correctional Institution in Niantic, Connecticut. This collaborative dance, song and spoken-word performance encompasses the stories of female prisoners’ lives before conviction, the ceaseless presence of time in their lives on the inside, and the new lives and language they must learn as convicts.

But it also explores the life of the mind and spirit – something that isn’t given over to confinement in cells and boxes, like the rest of their lives are in prison. For some, the freedom of the mind is a way to maintain sanity; for others, a way to begin to imagine life after prison.

Some come to this awareness naturally. For others, it comes through prison programs, such as the writing workshop at York run by Wally Lamb, the Connecticut author of She’s Come Undone and I Know This Much Is True.

This performance – along with the commentary before and after with the artists, director, Lamb and two former York inmates – demonstrates what happens when you find and express your creativity:

  • It shows the value of another person believing in you and your creative potential. “If you want to see somebody change, believe in them,” said a self-described ex-convict following the performance.
  • It provides a strong argument for teaching creativity and arts in school so that students discover their true selves and can find a place for positive expression in school, rather than exploring negative self-identities and illegal expression on the streets. After teaching creative thinking to men in a Minnesota prison in the 1980s, Bleedorn recalls that “I cannot forget the men who, in some cases, may be paying the high price of failure of schools and society to recognize and value a multiple of thinking and behaving talents.”
  • It suggests that if we want to rehabilitate offenders so that they become productive, contributing citizens, then we need to help them discover who they are, who they want to become and how to begin living that new vision. “Hope you can see the good inside of me,” sang the performers.

Most people’s encounter with creativity happens by chance – whether in the classroom, the workplace or in prison. They randomly find themselves in the presence of a great teacher or manager who realizes that simple, “one-right-answer” approaches aren’t going to create individuals who are capable of living in our complex, interconnected and challenging world.

The time has come to develop “creativity by choice, not by chance.” Lamb’s original choice was to teach one, 90-minute writing workshop at York. “What I wanted from them was whatever they needed to write – two pages minimum,” Lamb told the audience before the performance. This provided the chance experience for the women who ended up in his workshop, and the chance for Lamb to keep returning.

The choice has come in dedicating himself to more than seven years of working with these women. The choice has come in helping the women produce several books of their writing. The choice has come in partnering with other artists – such as the dancers from The Judy Dworin Performance Project and the singers of Women of the Cross – who also started working with the York inmates. These collaborators worked with the inmates to bring movement and song to the prisoners’ own words. Lamb describes the outcome, “Time In,” as “victory over voicelessness.”

Lamb reminded the “Time In” audience, as he taught the inmates, that creativity is hard work. It takes “revision, revision, revision … and patience, patience, patience.” But if you hunker down, find your voice and give your creativity its due effort, Lamb said you can see patterns, move out of dead ends and find your way out “to understand your history and rehabilitate yourself.”

These women “struggled their truths onto the page,” Lamb said. We can, too. And we can help the young people in our communities do the same.

Bleedorn reminds us that “the freedom to express individualistic, spontaneous ideas in appropriate, planned activities and in a supportive climate for some part of the school day could satisfy creative energies positively rather than relegating them to experimentation with negative behavior.”

The closing scene of “Time In” conveys a similar message of the freedom, hope and courage that comes from expressing our creative selves. It’s a strong reminder that we have a choice to recognize the creative potential rather than the destructive core of who we are. We have a choice to tap into what is most purposeful and meaningful in our lives. We have a choice to express ourselves and make our creative desires real in the world.

And we have a choice to develop creativity in both schools and prisons now, so that one day, we are only doing so in schools. How will you use your right to think and be heard?

"Time In" runs at Charter Oak Cultural Center in Hartford, Connecticut, November 2-4, 2006.

The Rise of the Testing Culture

[10 October 2006 - Washington Post] The testing culture "has a lot more momentum than it should," agreed Harvard University education professor Daniel Koretz, an expert on assessment and measurement. He said a lack of solid research on the results of the new testing regimen -- or those that predated No Child Left Behind -- essentially means that the country is experimenting with its young people. More

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Using Robotics to Teach Creativity

[24 October 2006 - Carnegie Mellon Robotics Institute] The CMU Robotics Institute has released a new paper titled, "Teaching technical creativity through Robotics: A case study in Ghana."The problem faced by the CMU researchers was how to teach creative use of technology to students in developing regions who tended to think of technology in very narrow terms (for example thinking of computer software only in terms of databases or business applications). They presented the students with robotic challenges that required students to use local resources and develop a broad understanding of technology. The result was that students left the class with a better understanding of how technology could be improvised and applied in their everyday lives. They also learned the importance of testing when improvising with technology. More

Arts make big impact on local economy

[25 October 2006 - Denver Post] Metro Denver's cultural institutions in 2005 attracted 14.1 million people who spent $785 million, according to a study released Tuesday by the Colorado Business Committee for the Arts. The group calculated overall economic activity at $1.4 billion, including $597 million in operating expenses and $44 million in capital expenses by cultural organizations. More

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

The art of science

[25 October 2006 - Telegraph (UK)] ... So catastrophic has been the decline in numbers of pupils taking physics and chemistry that Britain now faces a manpower crisis in scientific research and engineering that will have to be remedied by importing expertise from abroad. ... Brighter pupils can too often gain the impression (especially in the early years of study) that scientific subjects offer no scope for imagination or creativity: that they are simply closed bodies of facts to be memorised and predictable "experiments" to be replicated in the classroom. There is little sense of a wider context, or any exploratory dimension, even to a subject such as physics, which should offer endlessly fascinating insights into the order of the universe. More

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Ambivalence linked to more creativity

[8 October 2006 - UPI] Those with ambivalence, feeling positive and negative emotions at once, are more creative than those who are happy, sad or lack emotion, says a U.S. study. Christina Ting Fong, an assistant professor at the University of Washington Business School, says this increased sensitivity for recognizing unusual associations, which happy or sad workers probably couldn't detect, is what leads to creativity in the workplace. More

A Nobel for New York

[10 October 2006 - New York Sun Editorial] It's hard to think of a more delightful and satisfying piece of news than word that the Nobel prize in economics has gone to Columbia University's Edmund "Ned" Phelps. He and his wife Viviana are not only wonderful individuals, as we learned on several occasions in the past few years, but in a career spanning more than four decades, there are few economic puzzles to which Mr. Phelps has not turned his intellect. He earned the prize for his work on the particular problems lying at the intersection of monetary policy, inflation control, and employment, but for the past few years he has been speaking regularly about the importance of that quality, which almost defines the city where he and Viviana have made their home — "dynamism." ... So he began dusting off von Mises, Hayek, and Schumpeter and presenting them to modern economists. We have the sense that Hayek would have been thrilled; twice, in the years before his death, he told us, between his pinches of snuff, of the importance of understanding precisely the nature of the choice between socialism and capitalism. This is no doubt how Mr. Phelps latched onto the importance of "dynamism," which can be defined loosely as the qualities in a country's economic system that create work, allow talent to shine, and encourage creative problem solving. Mr. Phelps has recognized that America's dynamism has been the key to its economic success, while many European countries have stalled for lack of it. More

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Scholar sees bleak future for Europe

[7 October 2006 - Boston Globe] What could bring out 600 people, including a cardinal, on a beautiful fall night in the middle of the week? At St. Paul Church in Cambridge Wednesday, the draw was a leading Catholic intellectual with a pessimistic prognosis for the future of Europe and maybe the United States. George Weigel may not be as famous as actor George Clooney, but as a senior fellow at Washington's Ethics and Public Policy Center, a syndicated columnist, and a prolific author who wrote a popular biography of Pope John Paul II, he commands attention among the intelligentsia. Weigel's talk, the first lecture this season sponsored by St. Paul's lay Committee on Spiritual and Public Concerns, was elaborately planned and regimented. ... Asked what could be done about the European demise he forecast, he cited a suggestion Pope Benedict XVI made in a book when he was still Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. Ratzinger, Weigel said, called for a "creative minority" of religious believers allied with those nonbelievers who agreed that there are universal moral imperatives. He hoped that such a coalition might reform public life. "That's the most interesting suggestion along those lines that I've heard so far," Weigel said. More

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Creativity boosts pupils' work

[29 September 2006 - BBC - UK] Pupils who have worked with creative people such as writers and fashion designers are more punctual, better behaved and work better, Ofsted says. The education inspectorate has evaluated the Creative Partnerships scheme that has now been running in 2,500 schools in England. It said pupils developed skills such as improvisation, risk-taking, resilience and collaboration. The challenge now was to get them to apply these skills independently. Ministers said they were pleased at the findings. More

Lack of creativity may stifle education

[2 October 2006 - Desert News - Opinion] What about the students who don't go on to college? Efforts to sell the importance of college may end up demeaning those who don't make it to the ivory tower. Unwittingly, some professional educators are marketing college to K-12 students based on the amount of money as a way to success. This may be a case of good intentions with bad results. By inference, are students being told they are failures because they won't make as much money as college graduates? As a society, do we want to measure success by how much money one makes? ... Most disturbing is that we may be losing a great pool of intelligent, creative and innovative students because they don't fit the mold of how our educational systems — K-12 and higher education — test for academic intelligence. Our K-12 system is not designed to let students use different learning styles such as aural, visual and kinesthetic. Make no mistake, if our nation is to compete with other nations that are graduating more science and engineering students, then we must accelerate our efforts to educate our own. Globalization has changed our world, where creativity and innovation are the talents needed for a nation to compete in today's knowledge-based economy. More and more organizations, including business and the National Association of Governors, are realizing that imagination, creativity and innovation are the currency needed to succeed. The Rainbow Project, a study funded by the College Board, the organization that administers the SAT, found that adding creative, practical and common sense parts to the test better predicted a student's collegiate success and narrowed the scoring discrepancy between ethnic groups (Newsweek, Aug. 14, 2006). More

Monday, October 02, 2006

Most Young People Entering the U.S. Workforce Lack Critical Skills Essential for Success

[2 October 2006 - The Conference Board] As the baby boom generation slowly exits the U.S. workplace, a new survey of leaders from a consortium of business research organizations finds the incoming generation sorely lacking in much needed workplace skills-both basic academic and more advanced "applied" skills, according to a report released today. The report is based on an detailed survey of 431 human resource officials that was conducted in April and May 2006 by The Conference Board, Corporate Voices for Working Families, the Partnership for 21st Century Skills, and the Society for Human Resource Management. Its objective was to examine employers' views on the readiness of new entrants to the U.S. workforce-recently hired graduates from high schools, two-year colleges or technical schools, and four-year colleges. "The future workforce is here, and it is ill-prepared," concludes the report. The findings reflect employers' growing frustrations over the preparedness of new entrants to the workforce. Employers expect young people to arrive with a core set of basic knowledge and the ability to apply their skills in the workplace - and the reality is not matching the expectation. "It is clear from the report that greater communication and collaboration between the business sector and educators is critical to ensure that young people are prepared to enter the workplace of the 21st century," says Richard Cavanagh, President and CEO of The Conference Board. "Less than intense preparation in critical skills can lead to unsuccessful futures for America's youth, as well as a less competitive U.S. workforce. This ultimately makes the U.S. economy more vulnerable in the global marketplace." ... CREATIVITY IS IMPORTANT TO THE FUTURE WORKPLACE: Looking toward the future, nearly three-fourths of the survey participants ranked "creativity/innovation" as among the top five applied skills projected to increase in importance for future graduates. In addition, knowledge of foreign languages, cultures, and global markets will become increasingly important for future graduates entering the U.S. workforce. When asked to project the changing importance of several knowledge and skill needs over the next five years, 63 percent of survey participants cited foreign languages as increasing in importance more than any other basic knowledge area or skill. And, in separate questions about emerging content areas, half of the respondents noted the use of "non-English languages as a tool for understanding other nations, markets, and cultures," while 53 percent selected "understanding of global markets and the economic and cultural impacts of globalization." Making appropriate choices concerning health and wellness is the number one emerging topic considered most critical for future graduates entering the workforce. More than three-quarters of survey participants (76 percent) say that "making appropriate choices concerning health and wellness, such as nutrition, exercise, stress reduction, work-life effectiveness" is an emerging content area that will be most critical for future graduates. More

Intense children not the problem, their treatment is

[1 October 2006 - Providence Journal] “Do other people consider you intense?” inquires Howard Glasser, psychologist, author and keynote speaker to the large audience at Bradley Hospital’s annual conference called “Parenting Matters.” He’s clearly intense himself. “Do any of you have a child who’s considered intense?” Besides some teachers, psychologists and daycare providers, the audience is overwhelmingly parents, and they immediately murmur irate answers to this question, with a few shouts of "You bet." All parents who happen to have high-energy, high-strung children have been dragged into fights with and for those kids unwillingly and all too often. Glasser continues, “Intensity is a gift. But the world acts as though intensity is the enemy. So we find labels; we get unnerved; we have to find a cure. And the first approach is medication.” His audience is totally with him. All parents have kids who are intense in some way, at some times. But kids who are powered-up all the time can be mighty troublesome. Glasser barks, “The message to the kids is that there’s something wrong with your intensity. We can’t handle it, and neither can anyone else. We need to make it go away.” This hits home with me. Some of the smartest, most creative and exciting people I’ve known were, well, intense – and it seems like someone was always trying to intimidate or shame them into cowed compliance. More

Saturday, September 30, 2006

10 Ways to Think about Innovation: What successful young technologists know

[8 September 2006 - Technology Review - MIT] Each year, we choose the 35 innovators under the age of 35 whose new technologies seem most gloriously creative and most likely to expand human life. (Here are the 2006 winners.) In editing this year's TR35--and rereading the profiles of last year's winners, whom we introduced in the October 2005 issue--I've noticed a few things about successful innovation. More

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Director Emphasizes Imagination in Research

[21 September 2006 - U.S. Department of Defense Transformation News] Dan Marren spoke to scientists about basic research, collaboration and relationships, and the use of imagination to achieve great possibilities. ... It would have been understandable for a speaker to appear rattled addressing hundreds of world-renowned scientists gathered in Atlanta recently for the Air Force Office of Scientific Research’s Joint Program Review. Dan Marren, director of the Arnold Engineering Development Center’s White Oak, Md. facility, after all, had only 45 minutes to prepare a 30-minute speech shortly after he received word his boss could not make it. ... He spoke to scientists brought together by Air Force Office of Scientific Research program managers to review five major Air Force basic research portfolios. Speaking to experts who spent the week discussing such topics as physical mathematics and plasma aerodynamics could affect anyone’s composure – anyone except Marren. His presentation focused on three topics which, he said, are of critical importance to the scientific community – basic research, collaboration and relationships, and use of imagination to achieve great possibilities. The thread that weaves these concepts together is vision. More

A Perfect Brainstorm: The three-part equation that supercharges big-idea generation

[Summer 2006 - BusinessWeek] Over the past 20 years, Eureka Ranch has played host to more than 6,000 teams of people in search of the next big idea. At the end of each brainstorming workshop, we ask participants to rate their session on its levels of stimuli, diversity, fun, fear, cooperation, and openness to radical ideas. By correlating their responses with the number of big ideas the teams came up with, we've been able to identify three simple principles that make brainstorming more powerful. Briefly stated, any team is more likely to create a big idea if it starts by exploring various stimuli, leverages diversity, and drives out fear.
Sound simple? Bear with me while I add some math. More specifically:
divided by FEAR

Eight Rules To Brilliant Brainstorming

[25 September 2006 - BusinessWeek]
Alex F. Osborn's 1950s classic, Applied Imagination, which popularized brainstorming, gave sound advice: Creativity comes from a blend of individual and collective ``ideation.'' This means building in time for people to think and learn about the topic before the group brainstorm, as well as time to reflect about what happened after the meetings.

Monday, September 25, 2006

The Power of Ordinary Practices

[20 September 2006 - Harvard Business School Working Knowledge] Teresa M. Amabile's research centers on how the work environment can influence the motivation, creativity, and performance of individuals and teams. A recent study focused on the influence of team leaders on these factors. Professor Amabile and New Business publisher Mike Roberts recently discussed her research. ... Seemingly mundane things that managers do can have great impact on their workers, says Professor Teresa Amabile. In this conversation with Professor Mike Roberts, she updates her ongoing research on creativity in the workplace by investigating how people's intense inner work lives affect their productivity—and how managers can encourage production. Key concepts include:
* Emotions, motivations, and perceptions about work permeate an employee's daily experience and affect performance.
* There are five specific leader behaviors that create a positive influence on people's feelings, and three that have a negative impact.
* Leaders must understand how ordinary, seemingly mundane things they do or say carry great influence on workers—so "sweat the small stuff."