As we increasingly recognize creativity as a valuable asset to the global economy, we will continue to see an emphasis on creative teaching and thinking strategies in schools and in the workplace. But, how do we evaluate these strategies to determine which best promote creative learning?
There are no clear cut ways to measure the value of creative learning strategies, but there are questions that we can ask in order to make judgements about their value for children.
When evaluating creative thinking or learning activities, strategies, and programs, it is useful to consider the following questions:
Does this activity, strategy, or program allow for divergent thinking?
The concept of divergent thinking was defined by psychologist J.P. Guilford and refers to the process of generating multiple outcomes, solutions, or possibilities for a given topic or problem. Creativity thrives in thought processes that allow for multiple possibilities and ideas. Can you identify opportunities for divergent thinking?
Does this activity, strategy, or program encourage children to consider different combinations of existing concepts and ideas?
Creativity is also practiced when individuals consider the possibilities of combining existing concepts and ideas in new and different ways. Artist and creativity expert, Austin Kleon, compares creative thinking to mathematical permutations. What does the concept of combinatorial thinking (or remix) mean in today’s creative economy? In a presentation called, Networked Knowledge and Combinatorial Creativity, Maria Popova explains, “[creative] work builds on what came before. Every new idea is just a remix or a mashup of two previous ideas.” Can you identify opportunities for combining existing concepts and ideas in new and different ways?
Does this activity, strategy, or program allow for experimentation and failure?
Creativity is often judged by the end product, not the process. Perhaps this is because the creative process can be messy, difficult to capture, and littered with mistakes. But, we all understand that our mistakes can drive the creative process by showing us what doesn’t work and directing us toward better solutions. Our mishaps can also surprise us with possibilities we would have never considered. Can you identify opportunities that allow for experimentation and value the possibilities in failure?