21st Century Skills
Can Creativity be Learned?
Once creativity was seen as more to do with the creative arts – painting, drama, music or writing a novel and as such was not considered very important. But in the 21st century that has changed and creativity has become a critical work skill. It is now ranked number 3 on the World Economic Forum’s 2020 Work Skills list.
Creativity is at the heart of innovation – it’s the starting point of new ideas, products and wealth. It’s also one of those qualities that abound in young children along with curiosity, inquiry, and imagination. Sir Ken Robinson has been pointing out for more than 20 years that schools are killing creativity resulting in kids losing up to 90% of their creativity by the time they graduate high school.
Howard Gardner recognizes that ‘in our global, wired society, creativity is finally sought after’ even though this has not been the case in the past.
But can it be taught?
The answer is yes, but it is a quality that needs to be nurtured over time and given the opportunity to explore and discover and importantly take risks. Children need to opportunity to learn by trying out new ideas and techniques and what works.
The key is having a “growth mindset” in the past we believed that our abilities were inherited and fixed at birth. Individuals would see themselves as smart or dumb or others as clever or creative.
“A growth mindset is when students believe that their abilities can be developed,” says Carol Dweck, renowned Stanford University psychologist.
Growth mindset recognizes that while each individual has inherited talents, intellectual ability and talents can be developed through attitude and effort by exercising and thereby growing the mind and adding neurons and connections between neurons.
“To prepare for careers in complex and rapidly changing fields, students must learn to think differently and interact with others in new and creative ways.”
Dr. Dweck believes that growth-mindset individuals tend to:
1. Enjoy challenges
2. Be undaunted, even motivated by setbacks
3. Seek advice and criticism
4. Regard errors as instructive
5. Employ diverse learning strategies
6. Bounce back from disappointments
7. Draw inspiration from the successes of others
Marylin Price-Mitchell describes 5 Ways to Foster Growth Mindsets that are vital to young people’s success as innovators.
Growth Mindset #1: “I see connections.”
Today’s challenges are complex, interwoven, and multifaceted. Consequently, young people must be able to see the implications of ideas and decisions on an entire system of stakeholders.
Growth Mindset #2: “I am open to new ideas.”
Innovation thrives with collaboration and flexibility. Einstein’s words, “We can’t solve the world’s problems by using the same type of thinking we used when we created them,” couldn’t ring more true today. It is important to understand the importance of being open to new ideas and working collaboratively.
Growth Mindset #3: “I bow to my mistakes.”
Innovation only occurs when we have the courage to make mistakes and learn from them. Instead of shaming students who don’t perform to expectations, we must teach them that mistakes are part of their growth as human beings. Individuals who become innovators have learned from mistakes and failures during their adolescence.
Growth Mindset #4: “I embrace diversity.”
The world is made up of different cultures that collaborate and collide at lightning speeds. Key to the development of better products, services, and policies is a young person’s ability to understand people who are different from themselves. By teaching kids to be good citizens, we impart an important mindset that contributes to innovation in all parts of society.
Growth Mindset #5: “I live in a human-virtual world.”
The information and knowledge society that has evolved since the birth of the Internet, and that now includes social media, is a major driver of innovation. The next generation of leaders will know how to use the power of the Internet and its tools to connect with people and ideas across the globe. But the fact remains that face-to-face relationships young people nurture with friends, family, and people in their own communities will remain at the heart of what feeds their initiative and well-being. Today’s youth must learn to live in human and virtual spaces simultaneously, harnessing the benefits of both.
When we foster these growth mindsets in young people, we help them become the innovators of the future.
Lance King in his book, ‘The Importance of Failing Well’ describes the natural process of discovery and creativity in which making mistakes is important to learning.
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