Friday, April 28, 2006


Those interested in creativity, education and educational change might also be interested in this new book, Education is Everybody's Business: A Wake-Up Call to Advocates of Educational Change (Rowman & Littlefield Education). It's by educator Berenice Bleedorn ( ), who was the gifted consultant for the Minnesota State Department of Education, a professor of creativity in the business and education schools at the University of St. Thomas, has taught creativity to inmates in the state prison, is a colleague of the Creative Education Foundation, and writes and speaks about creativity throughout the world.

This book really makes the case for the deliberate teaching of thinking - creative and critical - in education. It also links the importance of education to a thriving democracy. A great idea in the book is that "democracy deserves the best thinking possible" - which offers a great place to begin one's thinking about any number of political issues in the world today. Some other good quotes from the book include:
  • Children and youth are all much smarter than we think. They are smarter than the standardized test scores tell us. They have a longer tomorrow than adults, and most of them think about it more than we realize. Students have a right to understand what is happening to the world that they are inheriting. 
  • The hope is that educational programs will become better designed to make the best possible use of the natural power of the human mind to grow and develop and to be significantly active in service to a cause beyond oneself. 
  • There are no limits to the intellectual resource of the human mind when it is provided with an atmosphere for personal growth. 
  • The idea that `Creativity=Capital' is not a facetious one. The capacity of the human mind for creativity and innovation is unlimited. Harvesting the creativity in a business translates to money in the bank. 
  • Creative thinking can be taught if learners can practice the art of being serious and playful at the same time. 
  • The educational problem of a disparity between average achievement scores of white students and black students may have some of its origin in the nature of schooling that neglects programs that identify creative talent and fails to provide for its appropriate expression in problem solving and other creative thinking activities. 
  • Educators have not only an opportunity but an obligation to open the "doors of perception" for all students. The enduring purpose of education is to provide students with a perception of the outer reaches of their talents and possibilities and, ideally, to give them a reason to continue to learn and contribute to their society for all of their lives. 
  • The mandate is undeniable. The future of the environment can be guaranteed only with the determined effort of all the players in the world drama in every society, and there is no time to lose. It is a perfect project for the integration of schools and society, the community and the education profession. It is a time for personal action and resolve. 
  • Initiatives from concerned citizens and business interests have a vital place in developing educational outcomes that can be competitive with the rest of the developing world and can continue to contribute to a better life for all. 
  • Paradoxical thinking is a prerequisite for a society and world steeped in a diversity of cultures, religions and ideologies if we ever hope to achieve a more sane and peaceful world. If complex thinking were taught, practiced and modeled during the process of education everywhere, the people of the world would understand more and fight less.
Bringing Schools Back to Life: Schools as Living System
[1999 - Creating Successful School Systems: Voices from the university, the field, and the community - Margaret Wheatley] In public education, how many members of a geographically determined school district share a core of beliefs about the purposes of education? Most districts contain a wide spectrum of beliefs about the role of education. There are those who believe that education should support the talented elite, which includes their child. Those who view education as the foundation of a pluralistic society where education should open doors for all. Those who believe in a rich life of the mind. Those who want their children taught only the values of their parents or church. The startling conclusion is that most school systems aren't systems. They are only boundary lines drawn by somebody, somewhere. They are not systems because they do not arise from a core of shared beliefs about the purpose of public education. In the absence of shared beliefs and desires, people are not motivated to seek out one another and develop relationships. Instead, they co-inhabit the same organizational and community space without weaving together mutually sustaining relationships. They co-exist by defining clear boundaries, creating respectful and disrespectful distances, developing self-protective behaviors, and using power politics to get what they want. More

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Creativity Is a Habit

[22 February 2006 - EDUCATION WEEK - By Robert J. Sternberg - Reprinted by Mass Cultural Council | Education News] The increasingly massive and far-reaching use of conventional standardized tests is one of the most effective, if unintentional, vehicles this country has created for suppressing creativity. Creativity is a habit. The problem is that schools sometimes treat it as a bad habit. And the world of conventional standardized tests we have invented does just that. Try being creative on a standardized test, and you will get slapped down just as soon as you get your score. That will teach you not to do it again. It may sound paradoxical that creativity-a novel response-is a habit, a routine response. But creative people are creative largely not by any particular inborn trait, but because of an attitude toward their work and even toward life: They habitually respond to problems in fresh and novel ways, rather than allowing themselves to respond in conventional and sometimes automatic ways. Like any habit, creativity can either be encouraged or discouraged. The main things that promote the habit are (a) opportunities to engage in it, (b) encouragement when people avail themselves of these opportunities, and (c) rewards when people respond to such encouragement and think and behave creatively. You need all three. Take away the opportunities, encouragement, or rewards, and you will take away the creativity. In this respect, creativity is no different from any other habit, good or bad. More

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Creativity Pays. Here's How Much

[24 April 2006 - BusinessWeek] So you're one of the 25 Most Innovative Companies in the world, but what about the bottom line? Does innovation really deliver? You bet. More than half of the Top 25 with histories as public companies scored big, with better profit margins and higher stock prices over the past decade. ... "Innovation is allowing companies to grow faster [and] have a richer product mix," says James P. Andrew, who heads BCG's innovation practice. Many companies could use the encouragement to push for it: Some 48% of businesses surveyed by BCG said they were dissatisfied with their returns on investment from innovation. More

Monday, April 17, 2006

Books on the brain: These 3 offer an update on the fledgling science of the human mind

[14 April 2006 - Houston Chronicle - By MIHALY CSIKSZENTMIHALYI] During the past half-century or so, we have seen enormous advances in mapping the brain and its functions. We now know which area of the brain controls the movement of each finger and how religious ecstasy looks when translated into colored patches on a computer screen. No wonder scientists are beginning to feel ready to communicate the fruits of their labor to a general audience and to explain how knowledge of the brain will help us understand what we do, how we do it and why. Three slender new books are part of this recent trend of popularizing the brain sciences: All were written by professionals trained in the intricacies of gray matter. More