Creativity and Education

Creativity and Education

jean piaget quoteIn January 2014, the family of jazz great Max Roach donated his papers to the Library of Congress.  One of the items on display was his childhood report card.  Roach was a D student in music!  Those Ds, however, did not stop him from becoming one of the most renowned jazz drummers of the 20th century, who played with musical icons Duke Ellington and Dizzy Gillespie and composed musical scores identified with the American civil rights movement.  Roach is not the only creative person who “performed” poorly in school. Take a few minutes to read a selection of quotes from creators who cross the borders of time and space.

 “Thank goodness I was never sent to school; it would have rubbed off some of the originality.”  Beatrix Potter

“It is important that students bring a certain ragamuffin, barefoot irreverence to their studies; they are not here to worship what is known, but to question it.”  Jacob Bronowski, The Ascent of Man

“If you want creative workers, give them enough time to play.”  John Cleese

 “I think if you study–if you learn too much of what others have done, you may tend to take the same direction as everybody else.”  Jim Henson

“The human spirit lives on creativity and dies in conformity and routine.”  Vilayat Inayat Khan

“If you want to be creative, stay in part a child, with the creativity and invention that characterizes children before they are deformed by adult society.”  Jean Piaget

Does schooling stifle creativity?  Research indicates that teachers associate creativity with unwelcome student behaviors such as nonconformity and rebellion.  And groundbreaking research by scholar Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi supported the anecdotal experiences of Max Roach and Beatrix Potter:  children who grew up to make significant creative and innovative contributions to the world tended to hate school and dropped out, or were educated at home.  They made their contributions outside the realms of school and work.

But today creativity is prized in the workforce.  A 2010 survey of 1500 CEOs identified “‘creativity’ as the single most important leadership competency for enterprises.”  What is the history of creativity and education?  Does schooling really stifle creativity?  Have educators neglected creativity in the classroom?  Is there a difference between our commonly held beliefs about creativity and what research tells us?  How are educators responding to workplace demands to integrate the teaching of creativity in the classroom?  And, what is the status of creativity in the schools compared with meeting the performance requirements of standards and standardized assessments?  These are just a few of the questions Knowledge Without Borders™ will explore as we seek insights on creativity and innovation to inform new approaches to education.



Karen Collias

My name is Karen Collias and I founded Knowledge Without Borders™ to infuse creativity and innovation into the most salient educational issues affecting global contemporary society. I attribute my enthusiasm to cross the borders of traditional knowledge domains to the multi-disciplinary nature of my education and professional experience. The first in my family to go to college, I have a Ph.D. from Columbia University. My professional experience focuses on interdisciplinary research, teaching, and strategic thinking at a variety of institutions, including Princeton University, the Smithsonian Institution, and the U.S. Department of State. I currently am crossing borders to write about creativity and innovation in education and philanthropy.



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