Learning Quotient and the link to Creativity
What do you think about when the work creativity is mentioned or you are asked to be creative? Do you admire creative people for whatever it is they do? How would you assess creativity?
Let us start by briefly exploring and raising a few issues about creativity and schools. I started with three questions about creativity but if you ask a number of people I would bet you would get debate about each. Defining creativity is not straight forward and that can cause difficulty for schools that often appear to need to convert the world and its concepts into subjects in order to teach them to children (and perhaps assess too). We could probably look to the creative arts for a list of subjects and most people would include music, drama, art, dance, and writing and perhaps design. There may be others who claim physics is creative, or mathematics or any number of other subjects. So we are back to the subject problem when thinking about creativity. It may be easier to say that creativity pervades everything and forget about subjects!
A little bit of background
Over a decade ago the Arts Council of England asked the NFER to look into creativity and summarise research and theories on creativity and early childhood[i]. This is their list of common components:
- originality (the ability to come up with ideas and products that are new and unusual)
- productivity (the ability to generate a variety of different ideas through divergent thinking)
- problem solving (application of knowledge and imagination to a given situation)
- the ability to produce an outcome of value and worth.
The National Advisory Committee for Creative and Cultural Education, chaired by the then Professor Ken Robinson (now Sir) suggested, “All people are capable of creative achievement in some area of activity, provided that the conditions are right and they have acquired the relevant knowledge and skills.” The now Sir Ken Robinson later wrote, “I firmly believe that you can’t be creative without acting intelligently” [ii] however there is a question about any link between creativity and intelligence.
Do we need to be creative?
Consider the alternative! Earlier I wrote about four basic needs; Fun, Freedom, Belonging and Power. If we are unable or prevented from satisfying some of these needs most of the time then internal stresses build. Not being heard is a common angst amongst most people. Having an element of choice through freedoms is core to being involved or engaged. Fun is also an important aspect and perhaps most present when you are doing something that you are totally involved or immersed in. Having a presence, having an identity or being recognised, and being part of a group is something we all strive for. I would suggest that in life we hold creative people in high regard, we listen to what they have to say, we even copy what they wear or do. My answer would be, yes we need to be creative. Being creative means you have devised an outlet for the imagination, for wonder and questions within. Without an outlet questions give way to receiving facts without question, to failing to stop and wonder but instead take for granted and to forget to see alternatives to those ideas you are given.
In the link with empathy I talked about our senses, perhaps creativity is the seventh sense, the one with which you truly interact with or sense your environment. Moving through life without being creative mean you pass through without noticing, engaging, or commenting upon those things around you. Opportunities go un-noticed and experiences are missed. Looking and seeing opportunities for change, for adaption, for integration, for finding something that will help you on your journey, that will allow you to express yourself in a unique way without taking from others, without becoming a simulacrum, is perhaps the gift of creativity. To ignore the act of being creative can affect a person deeply, just in the same way as limiting creativity in others can. The effect becomes the treacle that slows down the pace of time, the friction that makes days grind by slowly.
How does this link to LQ?
Whatever we agree on or not concerning creativity we would all probably agree creativity is about doing things differently, about generating something that did not exist in the same form or manner prior to the creative event or action. It has been suggested that if the conditions (I would say the environment) are right and we have the skill and knowledge to act or react then we can all be creative. I would ask the question do we have to create the right environment in our classrooms for creativity to happen or should the creation of the environment be down to the individual who wishes to be creative? This is where, if you have been following the earlier articles, you will recognise the link to LQ which is about managing the learning environment to meet your needs. I said earlier that moving through life without being creative distances you from your environment; you are not “intelligently” acting and reacting to it. The degree of creativity shown by somebody could be an indicator of how much they are interacting with their environment, how much they are displaying their LQ, their learning intelligence.
There is a sort of flip in this too; being creative allows us to manage our learning environment effectively which in turn allows us to be creative. This in itself brings rewards for it helps us meet the four basic needs I identified earlier. Acting creatively is more than being engaged in something it is immersion. As Sir Ken Robinson would say you are in your “element.”
Is it that easy to be creative in managing your leaning environment?
I suggest you download the article from my website “LQ and Netherlands Conference”. The link is: http://www.ace-d.co.uk/id10.html
The article describes the learning problems I faced when attending a conference partially delivered in Dutch, a language I do not speak. I was able to follow the lectures by using my creativity to manage my learning environment.
What this means for the Teacher.
In essence it means supporting and providing a creative environment.
Move from mindless learning to mindful learning (again you will find an article on this at the same link as above – “A Mindful Approach to Learning”). Include the student not only in what they will learn today but why they will learn it. Ask at the end of the lesson not only what they have learnt but why they have learnt it.
Look to use problem solving approaches to topics. Ask questions such as
What would you do
- to find out,
- in response to,
- if this happened to you?
Don’t appear to know everything, be ready to learn too and to ask how.
Be ready to accept and accommodate originality in your lesson planning and not see it a challenge to the planned process of learning.
What this means for the Learner
Firstly it means not being passive in the learning process or environment. You can challenge and find alternative ways of learning if you approach the situation creatively. This does not mean stamping your feet or throwing a tantrum because things are not as you would like or want them. It does mean seeing where the problems in learning lie and relating these to your own needs. It means finding non challenging ways to approach those directing the learning in order that your needs are met.
You can use phrases like:
- Can you explain that to me another way please?
- Have you anything I could read before the next lesson to help me learn this topic?
- Is there anything on the Internet I could look at that you know of?
- Could we have a discussion about the topic?
Ask yourself questions like:
- What do I already know that can help me?
- Where/when did I begin to struggle with this topic?
- Who else could help me?
- What can I change about my approach or attitude to this topic that could help me?
The next article will explore resilience and persistence and the link to LQ and will be published on the 18th of September.
[i] Developing young children’s creativity: what can we learn from research?
[ii] Sir Ken Robinson 2009 The Element How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything Penguin