“Optimism starts with what may be the most extraordinary of human talents: mental time travel. That is, the ability to move back and forth through time and space in one’s mind. To think positively about our prospects, it helps to be able to imagine ourselves in the future. Although most of us take this ability for granted, our capacity to envision a different time and place is critical for our survival. It allows us to plan ahead, to save food and resources for times of scarcity, and to endure hard work in anticipation of a future reward.
While mental time travel has clear survival advantages, conscious foresight came to humans at an enormous price — the understanding that somewhere in the future, death awaits. This knowledge that old age, sickness, the decline of mental power, and oblivion are somewhere around the corner, can be devastating.”
Here’s an idea – what if you viewed the Ted talk, and keeping sustainability in mind, wonder about how and when you think or feel people are most likely to express their creativity to make a difference?
Imagine starting off a conversation at your next meeting during World Creativity and Innovation Week, April 15 – 21 with these statements from a Tim Brown, IDEO CEO Harvard Business Review article from November 2016.
“All of our management practices need to be updated: how organizations are structured, how we deploy capital, how we interact and collaborate with broader networks, what tools and technology we embrace and deploy, what we measure, what markets we target, who we hire and how we lead. Of these, how we lead and the kind of culture we create are the essential starting points.
When our goal is efficiency, our concept of governance includes ensuring standardization, high levels of coordination, careful assessment of risk, and, of course, the elimination of waste.When we want to be creatively fit, governance looks quite different. It should be, and feel, more nurturing. It should focus on speed of learning and rigorous experimentation. It benefits from an attitude of abundance.
Nurturing a creatively competitive organization requires curiosity above all else. Asking the right questions is more important (and more difficult) than having the right answers. One of my favorite Victorian entrepreneurs, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, asked the seemingly ridiculous question, “How can I create the experience of floating over the English countryside?” in his quest to building the first large scale, long-distance railway service in England.”
More at: https://hbr.org/2016/11/leaders-can-turn-creativity-into-a-competitive-advantage
“… the ability to make connections across disciplines-arts and sciences, humanities and technology-is a key to innovation, imagination, and genius.” Walter Isaacson (2017) Leonardo da Vinci. p3.
Imagine you have a day of freedom to explore cross-disciplinary thinking, and that you take the opportunity to combine what you’re working on now with sustainable development to create something new, to innovate.
You have that day – it’s World Creativity and Innovation Day, April 21.
See what you can do.
FYI World Creativity and Innovation Week April 15-21 begins on Leonardo da Vinci’s birthday, April 15.
Check out where your search engine points when you query his name. Who knows what you’ll find out that you can use for inspiration.
“It is the Combining faculty. It brings together things, facts, ideas, conceptions in new, original, endless, ever-varying combinations…It is that which penetrates into the unseen worlds around us, the worlds of Science. ”
To use your imagination… combine two things that by nature have not yet been connected.
What if, for example, as a brain warm-up activity, in getting ready for your World Creativity and Innovation Day, April 21 or World Creativity and Innovation Week April 15-21, you combine your next project with one of the sustainable development goals? What new invention, idea, solution might emerge?
Dr. Kim’s 2017 research on the creativity crisis is presented as a think piecefor you, to help prep for World Creativity and Innovation Day, April 21.
Join me in spreading the creative spirit, knowledge about it, opportunities for it, and ways to use it to help create a decent life for all on a sustainable planet. WCID2018.
New ideas, new decisions, new actions, new outcomes to make the world a better place and to make your place in the world better too.
Here’s the Research
The Creativity Crisis: It’s Getting Worse
Children are born to be creative, like eagles are born to soar, see the world, and find food, not scratch and fight for scraps in a coop. Instead of competing against each other on memorization tests, when children utilize their creativity to its full potential, creativity can contribute to healthy lives and future careers.
How High-Stakes Testing Has Caused Exam Hell in Asia
High-stakes testing has shaped the main Asian cultural values: 1) filial piety (e.g., to be a good son or daughter by achieving high scores), 2) social conformity (e.g., to think and act like others); and 3) social hierarchy (e.g., to obey the authority). High-stakes testing has made millions of young men focus on preparing for tests, instead of challenging the social hierarchy. It has resulted in exam hell, the excessive rote memorization, and private tutoring, starting in early childhood, to achieve high scores among students in Asia. This situation has fostered social conformity and structural inequalities. It has cost Asians their individuality and creativity.
How High-Stakes Testing Has Caused The Creativity Crisis in the U.S.
During the 1990s, American politicians, fearing the educational and economic success of Asia, began to focus on test-taking skills to emulate Asian success. Today, high-stakes testing costs American taxpayers tens of billions of dollars each year, but the real cost is much higher
Highly-selective university and graduate school admission procedures rely on high-stakes tests such as the ACT and the SAT. Testing companies and test-preparation companies have reaped enormous financial benefits and lobby Congres heavily for more testing. However, because students’ scores are highly correlated with both students’ family income and spending on test preparations, high-stakes testing has solidified structural inequalities and socioeconomic barriers for low-income families.
American Education Before and After the 1990s
Creativity is making something unique and useful and often produces innovation. Prior to the 1990s, American education cultivated, inspired, and encouraged. However, since the 1990s:
Losing curiosities and passions. Because of the incentives or sanctions on schools and teachers based on students’ test scores, schools have turned to rote lecturing to teach all tested material and spent time teaching specific test-taking skills. Students memorize information without opportunities for application. This approach stifles natural curiosities, the joy of learning, and exploring topics that might lead to their passions.
Narrowing visions. Making test scores as the measure of success fosters students’ competition and narrows their goals, such as getting rich, while decreasing their empathy and compassion for those in need. However, the greatest innovators in history were inspired by big visions such as changing the world. Their big visions helped their minds transcend the concrete constraints or limitations and recognize patterns or relationships among the unrelated.
Prior to the 1990s, many schools had high expectations and offered many challenges. However, since the 1990s:
Lowering expectations. Schools focus on students whose scores are just below passing score and ignore high-achieving students.
Avoiding risk-taking. High-stakes testing teaches students to avoid taking risks for fear of being wrong. The willingness to accept failure is essential for creativity.
Prior to the 1990s, educators sought to provide students with diverse experiences and views. However, since the 1990s:
Avoiding collaboration. Because teachers have been compelled to depend on rote lecturing, students have few opportunities for group work or discussions to learn and collaborate with others.
Narrowing minds. Schools have decreased or eliminated instruction time on non-tested subjects such as social studies, science, physical education, arts, and foreign languages. This contraction not only narrows students’ minds but gives them few opportunities for finding or expressing their individuality and cross-pollination across different subjects or fields. Low-income area schools, especially, have decreased time on non-tested subjects to spend more time on test preparations.
Prior to the 1990s, schools provided children with the freedom to think alone and differently. However, since the 1990s:
Losing imagination and deep thought. Test-centric education has reduced children’s playtime, which stifles imagination. With pressure to cover large amounts of tested material, teachers overfeed students with information, leaving students little time to think or explore concepts in depth.
Fostering conformity. American education has increasingly fostered conformity, clipping eagles’ wings of individuality (All schools preparing students for the same tests and all students taking the same tests). It has stifled uniqueness and originality in both educators and students. Wing-clipped eagles cannot do what they were born to do – fly; individuality-clipped children cannot do what they were born to do – fulfill their creative potential.
Fostering hierarchy. Students’ low scores are often due to structural inequalities, which start in early childhood (e.g., the number of words exposed to by age 3), affecting their later academic achievement. Yet, high-stakes testing has determined the deservingness and un-deservingness of passers or failers. The claim of “meritocracy” has disguised the structural inequalities by conditioning disadvantaged students to blame themselves for their lack of effort.
Results of The 2017 Creativity Crisis Study
In “The Creativity Crisis (2011)” I reported that American creativity declined from the 1990s to 2008. Since 2008, my research reveals that the Creativity Crisis has grown worse. In addition, the results also reveal that the youngest age groups (5 and 6-year-olds) suffered the greatest.
The significant declines in outbox thinking skills (fluid and original thinking) indicate that Americans generate not only fewer ideas or solutions to open-ended questions or challenges, but also fewer unusual or unique ideas than those in preceding decades (Figure 1).
The significant declines in new box thinking skills (elaboration and simplicity) indicate that Americans think less in depth, with less focus, and they think less critically and in more black-and-white terms than those in preceding decades (Figure 2). The significant decline in open-mindedness (creative attitude) indicates that Americans are less open to new experiences and different people, ideas, and views than those in preceding decades (Figure 3).
The greatest declines in creativity among the youngest age groups suggest that the younger children are, the more they are harmed by American test-centric education.
Similarities between American high-stakes testing and Asian exam hell have appeared. Increasingly, fewer American innovators will emerge. The longer test-centric education continues, the fewer will remember or know that eagles can fly, and the more we will see creativity and innovation decline. America must not abandon its traditional way of raising eagles. Eagles that soar high will see the whole big world, and children who maximize their potential will become world’s greatest innovators. The world has improved from breakthroughs made by eagles, not by wing-clipped chicks.
Leading up to the 90th Academy Awards Ceremony is a great time to honour the 1968 winner of the documentary short subject – Why Man Creates.
We watched Why Man Creates every semester when I was an undergraduate and graduate student at the International Center for Studies in Creativity at Buffalo State College; from September 1977 through to December 1983.
Students and faculty at the Center quoted lines from the film because it was shown with such regularity, ‘I’m a bug, I’m a germ, I’m a bug, I’m a germ. Ha – Louis Pasteur, I’m not a bug I’m not a germ.’
Creativity Principle: Look beyond the obvious
Every semester when our professor, Dr. Ruth Noller, showed it, I’d moan.
“I’ve seen it already,” I’d say.
“Then find something new in the film,” Ruth replied; like clockwork, every semester.
And so I did. Ruth modeled an important principle you can use to fashion your WCID and WCIW celebrations. I learned to look beyond the obvious, to dig deeper, to see new things in the old – skills I use to this day.
Creativity Principle: Harsh immediate judgments are like a shot in the gut
One scene, in particular, stood out. An artist, who, in creating a sculpture, experiences an insight of grand proportions. He adds this new idea to his artwork and then, puts the sculpture on show.
We see a crowd gathered, commenting on this piece of art. Each utterance is a criticism. “It’s unAmerican.” I can’t say what I think because I’m from Nebraska, and you know what we are like.” “It will never fly Orville.”
We see the artist dressed like an American cowboy, receiving the comments as if each is a bullet. With each comment, he buckles over as if hit in the gut.
This scene profoundly moved me. Still does. Every time I hear an immediate ‘no’ to a new idea, it feels like a shot to the gut. From that I generalized this must be how others feel with rejection, immediate harsh criticism to their new thinking, that, in turn, discourages them from using their creative imagination and contributing new and different ideas, thinking, or potential solutions.
Wouldn’t it be great for people to inquire about new ideas rather than judge them harshly and critically upon first learning of them? That’s one of my wishes for World Creativity and Innovation Day, April 21, that the portal for considering new ideas opens wider to enable free use of imagination applied to create a decent life for all on a sustainable planet.
Prepare for World Creativity and Innovation Day, April 21: An Invitation
I invite you to take a step back in history and to participate in the worldview of the times. Watch the 1968 film. Highlight your connections and insights in the comments section.
What principles emerge for you?
It’ll be interesting to see the meanings we make today.
IN the next few years, more than three generations may be working side by side at the workplace. They are the Baby Boomers, Generation X, Generation Y (also known as millennials) and Generation Z.
Gen Z, who were born after 1995, are beginning to appear in the workplace. By next year, Gen Z is expected to represent more than 20 per cent of the workforce.
Growing up in a world where the Internet, social media and mobile technology have always existed, they will bring their new technology and big ideas with them. It can be a significant challenge to prepare for the clash of these four generations.
Many organisations are still struggling to analyse the challenge that millennials pose in the workplace.
But, how different will Gen Z really be? A digitally innate generation of students, Gen Z have access to more information than the generations before them. Growing up in the age of technology provides them with more outlets and digital tools for exploration and expression.
So, they are said to be more curious, innovative and open-minded than past generations.
While they should be more advanced in searching for information and figuring things out on their own, they also expect everything to be available at any time and with low barriers of access. With Gen Z starting university and the first batch graduating soon, are the schools preparing them for their future? Is higher education ready for them?
A study done by Adobe that provides insight into Malaysian Gen Z students shows that they are feeling unprepared for the problems the “real world” face today, and want greater focus on creativity and hands-on learning in the classroom.
The study, “Gen Z in the Classroom: Creating the Future”, surveyed 250 Gen Z students between the ages of 11 and 17, and 100 teachers in Malaysia.
A similar study was also conducted in five Asia-Pacific (Apac) countries — Australia, India, Thailand, China and Korea. For Malaysia, they found 97 per cent of students and 100 per cent of teachers — the highest rating among five other countries — see creativity as essential to students’ future success.
Malaysian Gen Z students also have mixed emotions when it comes to their future after they finish schools.
According to the study, they feel “excited” and “curious”, but at the same time “nervous” or “worried”. Some are concerned that schools have not properly prepared them for the real world.
They believe that there are a variety of careers that require creativity. Ninety six per cent of students from this study believe their future careers would involve creativity.
Both students and teachers alike agree that Gen Z learn best through hands-on experience and wish that there is more focus on creativity. Students feel that classes focusing on computers and technology hone their creativity and will best prepare them for their future.
Developing creative people is an aim that most in education share; there have been growing calls to nurture and teach creativity from an early age in schools and universities.
The World Economic Forum predicts that creativity will rise from the 10th most sought-after skill in 2015 to the third in 2020.
But, what is creativity? It can seem that creativity is a natural gift for those who are lucky, for instance, great artists, musicians or entrepreneurs. Can one learn to be creative? Can we prime the mind for creative ideas to emerge?
Research has shown that creativity is a skill that can be taught, practised and developed. With imagination, we can be wired to be creative. Creative thinkers in any discipline are those who can tackle complex problems and develop innovative solutions.
Of course, this does not mean that you can teach one to be a genius. The techniques of teaching creativity are not going to turn a student into Einstein or Picasso.
It is more about encouraging day-to-day creative thinking that can make a student, and then later, as an adult, more productive.
Many educators claim to value creativity, but they do not always prioritise it. In some parts of the world, teaching creativity is already a necessary part of an undergraduate experience.
The International Centre for Studies in Creativity at Buffalo State College in New York is the world’s first university department of its type.
The term “makerspace” in education — probably still new in Malaysia’s education scene — is also the buzzword now to refer to physical spaces that support learning and doing, in a way that redefines traditional schooling. It provides hands-on experiences and encourages creative ways for students to design, experiment, build and invent.
How can creativity be cultivated in the classroom? The way Gen Z students consume and learn today is very different from past generations, hence, educators in Malaysia need to provide the right environment, updated tools and creative outlets to bring out the best in their students and foster innovative problem-solving skills the future workforce will need.
Education systems should focus less on the reproduction of information and more on critical thinking and problem solving. There are multiple solutions to open-ended and complex problems, a situation that the students will face as they pursue future careers.
Encouraging divergent instead of convergent thinking leads to solving problems that do not have one correct answer.
However, it is important to remember that teaching creativity does not mean that we should throw out the textbooks and exams while encouraging children to let their minds wander rather than concentrate in the classroom.
Children should not be given free rein for their imagination to run wild at the cost of understanding a subject. In encouraging creativity, I believe if you want to think outside the box, you must fully understand what is inside the box first.
In preparation for World Creativity and Innovation Day, April 21, take a look at this infographic revealing research by Adobe. It shows the importance of Creative Problem Solving – of using new thinking to approach and solve challenges to make the world a better place and to make your place in the world better too.
You can see the regional difference insights here.
What are three things you can do, or three people you can talk to about this – to use creative problem-solving day-to-day? It’s important.
World Creativity and Innovation Day, April 21 has a purpose: to encourage people to use creativity in problem-solving to create a decent life for people on a sustainable planet.
What does that mean? How does one use creativity in problem-solving? How does one know if creativity has been used?
In a May 2017 post, I asked for input about this question. Here’s one reply, from Dr. Fatou Lo Planchon, France/Senegal
Sustainable development is crucial for our society. Your initiative is a big step forward in this issue.The complex and multifaceted challenges associated with global change and sustainable development occur on various scales.
Achieving solutions to these challenges has fostered the multiplicity of decision making levels, and the plurality of financial and regulatory instruments. However the transition to proactive and sustainable solutions is still tricky because it implies various interacting factors and requires a holistic and creative mindset.
Adaptation and resilience to climate change, water and energy issues, to name a few, are primordial questions to answer.
Using creativity to solve these burning environmental issues means clarifying the issues at stake, involving a diversity of people, widening our perspectives, and stretching our thinking to shift paradigms and come to new ideas. To make this participative cross disciplinary collaboration happen, a climate that fosters idea exploration, trial and errors, and experimentations is needed.
Using creativity in problem solving means:
– Using a robust process to find new ideas, make better decisions, co-create and innovate.
– Combining periods of divergent and convergent thinking
– Deferring judgment, freewheeling, leapfrogging, focusing on a lot of ideas
As an environmental scientist, a doctor in climatology, and a creative facilitator, the role of creativity in solving environmental problems is a question I have to often answer, and keep on searching for new answers to.
Wouldn’t it be great to have a tool available for people to use to review how they might have used creativity in problem-solving in the past? My hunch is that many already do. Imagine everyone able to seize and use their creative power moving forward.
Open minds, hearts, eyes to new ideas, new decisions, new actions: one week worldwide