“Not I,” said the Librarian: Ponderings on Creativity

Anyone up for toast spread with pine nuts, banana chunks, and cherry jelly? 
We were offered that for breakfast yesterday morning; evidence of six year old creativity.
I used to think I wasn’t creative.  In high school the creative kids were the art students and the actors.  When I became a teacher I transferred that idea – it was the art teachers down the hall that were creative and the eccentric creative writing teacher across the way.  Not until some new experiences came my way did I find out that I, too, am creative!  It was enlightening!  It was empowering!  It was fun to unlock those hidden talents.
So, now are you thinking, “Great, she discovered her strengths, good for her, she’s not me…”  If you are and you are ready to close this blog, I ask you to stay.  I’m willing to bet that hidden inside you there is tons of creativity.  It’s not only going to be nice for you if you unlock that, but your students will reap the greatest reward.
Reward???  What’s the big deal?  Why is creativity even important?
Let me tell you why:
  • Our society is increasingly global.  Outsourcing is no longer a concept, it is a reality.  How do our students succeed and compete in a changing market?  Companies and employees who succeed are unique and innovative, they have something to offer that the others don’t.  The restaurants that offer interesting menu items are the ones we will return to – every time we take the kids to Red Robin, we look for the new menu items to see which burgers are new.  We go back to them because they are fun and exciting.  Fried Twinkies and fried Oreos are selling at fairs and carnivals like hotcakes.  Dunkin Donuts offers blueberry coffee – who would have ever thought consumers would like that?!!  My son is actually on the right track – keep trying, Quinn, maybe you will be a chef some day!  The same goes for the screenwriters who are writing creative scripts for television and movies.  The movies get the higher ratings and the creative writers gain a reputation and keep their jobs.  The salesman who offers the best pitch is more successful – mix his pitch with sound economics and he’s good to go!  Creativity allows people better job security. 
  • Our students are more engaged when learning is interesting.  Helping students become excited about content and getting the students excited to interpret and interact with the content makes learning more effective. 

So, how are you going to become more creative and help your students become more creative?

  • USE THE TOOLS:  Join, visit, and participate in social networking and collaboration tools:  listservs, Nings, blogs, wikis.  Make sure to look to peers for inspiration!  Realize you don’t need to invent the wheel.  I recently read (or heard in conversation) that one man invented the wheel and it was another man that put those wheels together to build a car.  This is a pretty basic concept, but it is an important one – Don’t feel bad when others inspire you because the idea was originally theirs, you will take their creative idea and modify it to suit your needs and from that, more people will benefit.
  • START SMALL:  Here’s another basic concept, but look at those lessons that you already have designed, look for ways in which you can embed creativity.  Our principal is asking each of us to do that this year, and the students will reap the reward.  Start with one and then try another!
  • MAKE SURE YOU AREN’T SQUELCHING CREATIVITY:  Our district was shown a video that showed creativity in the corporate setting.  The task was to redesign a shopping cart.  When the team was brainstorming, the group was able to become more creative because the company had set the tone that anything goes.  They encouraged the sharing and consideration of wild ideas.  In the classroom, wild ideas are sometimes squelched.  At home, I could have shrugged my nose to the culinary treat yesterday morning, but that would have squelched my son’s creativity and it would have shown my son that unique ideas were not valued.  In college, our professor shared with us an Uncoloring Book, this was a book that was designed in response to the thought that our society inhibits much of the innate creativity that we possess.
  • VERBALLY TELL YOUR STUDENTS (AND CHILDREN) HOW IMPORTANT CREATIVITY IS:  Explain how it is important that they develop their creative talents in order to be competitive in a changing and competitive market.  Encourage them to identify differed and unique areas of creativity and to explore and seek out their own creative talents and allow them multiple opportunities to build those talents.
  • DEVELOP YOURSELF PROFESSIONALLY:  Read books like A Whole New Mind by Daniel Pink (our superintendent read this and have made it a district initiative for us to become creative, becoming a catalyst for my own growth.)  Another colleague suggested Now, Discover Your Strengths which proved to be another life changing read.  It is through district driven and school driven professional development that I have become interested in creativity.  Our district is excellent at preparing us to understand and carry out the initiatives.  It is through them that I have come to understand and value creativity.


What are some nontraditional forms of creativity that we can try to foster in our students and children? 

Share a lesson idea that incorporates creativity.


I wonder what other toast creations are coming my way (he’s only allowed to make toast).  I’ll share if any are really, really good!