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

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