Monday, December 8, 2014

TIES 14 Notes: The Subversive Educator's Guide to Creativity w/ Doug Johnson

Today's Meet: http://todaysmeet.com/create14

Doug Johnson, Technology Director for Burnsville, Eagan, Savage, shared his thoughts on creativity at the opening session at TIES 2014.

Vasco De Gamma was an influencer of Doug's in regards to creativity, due to the project his grandson did regarding him. He had created a first person narrative, where he was going to tell DeGamma's story, and was told by the teacher that he couldn't deliver it, and had to just read the report.
Perhaps the teacher was so focused on standardized test scores, she couldn't get past that.

Goals of the talk;

Why is it imperative we take developing creativity seriously?

Pink in "A Whole New Mind:


  1. Can someone overseas do it cheaper?
  2. Can a computer do it faster?
  3. Am I offering something that satisfies the nonmaterial, transcendent desires of an abundant age?
60% of an iPhone is pure Apple profit. How can they have 100% markup on a device? Because they have convinced us that we need it. It's about syle, design, It's the digital "Swiss Army Knife"
Routine manual and cognitive work is going away. 
Whats growing is complex communication and expert thinking skills.
Jobs that are going away:

  • Bank Tellers
  • Checkout
  • Gas Attendents
  • even White Collar jobs

Is Creativity A Teaching Strategy?

We shouldn't be asking if a child is creative, we should be asking HOW they are creative.
-Sir Ken Robinson
Standards have been put in place that honor creativity, but we haven't figured it out yet.
Creative children learn to solve their own problems.
We have a creativity crisis, especially in elementary schools. 

  • Creativity scores are going down.
  • One right answer mentality has led to this. 

Concern about the myths

Concern 1: Creativity isn't always about Art, it can be demonstrated in many ways.

Do we honor team building, problem solving, inventing, leading, organizing, motivating/inspiring?

Concern 2: Creativity must be accompanied by craft and discipline.
Format: ABAB rhyme scheme...
Shakespeare was working under tight parameters, but was able to work within them. It's OK to have parameters about your assignments, and still have originality. 
If you assign a project and get back 30 of the exact same thing, that's not a project, that's a recipe. 
-Chris Lehman 
Concern 3: The world is frightened by creativity.


Johnson showed attributes of creative and non-creative kids, and noted that most teachers want the student that is least creative.
We honor the compliant.
I wonder how many of the creative attributes are about culture?
100 definitions of creativity

Concern 4: If we ask students to demonstrate creativity and/or innovation, we need tools to determine whether they have done so.

Johnson believes the most important attributes of creativity are NEW and adding Value, and those need to be in balance. 

Edit: I was reminded of this video where Sir Ken Robinson discusses how to assess creativity:




Johnson thinks the best idea he's seen so far is:
"Wow Factor is Present!"
Concern 5: Standardized test mentality discourages creativity

Johnson used a picture book called, "First Grade Takes a Test" as an example..


10 ways to encourage creativity in every assignment

  1. Ban clip Art
  2. Ask that information be shown in multiple formats/media
  3. Encourage the narrative voice when giving an oral presentation
  4. Ask for multiple possible answers to questions or solutions to problems. When there is no correct answer "Complete the painting" Adding "the right way," made everyone do it the same. Keeping it open ended added great creativity and imagination. 
  5. Give points for "design" on all assignments-more than just neatness counts
  6. Instead of marking a problem wrong, ask why they got what they got
  7. Take advantage of free online tools, like Big Huge Labs
  8. Ask students to design rules
  9. Honor student's unique talents
  10. Don't be afraid to borrow the creative ideas of other people

Is creativity valued in your school's culture? If not, BE SUBVERSIVE!!


There are 2 kinds of schools, those for the governors and those for the governed. -Kozol
Which kind of school do you want your kids to go to, and which do you want to teach in?


Resources for the session
Post a Comment