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Not if, but how, a person is creative

After being a tourist for the past few days, I am back to work. I've spent yesterday morning revising and updating and thinking about my workshop Designing Projects Students (and Teachers) Love for the ASB Un-plugged Conference here in Mumbai.

I am putting an emphasis on the creative aspects of such projects. After all the new ISTE and AASL Standards emphasize creativity.

My basic concern about the traditional use of the term is that we tend only to think in terms of the arts when we think of creative people. (See Concerns about Creativity) But we can and should extend Howard Gardner's Multiple Intelligences to Multiple Creative Abilities. I've started to generate a list

Johnson's Multiple Creative Abilities (with apologies to Howard Gardner)

  • Writing/Presenting/Storytelling
  • Numeric problem-solving
  • Graphic artistic (drawing, painting, sculpting, photography, designing)
  • Athletic/movement (Sports, dance)
  • Musically artistic
  • Humor
  • Problem-solving
  • Teaching
  • Inventing
  • Team-building/Organizing/Leading
  • Motivating/inspiring
  • Excuse making

What can be added? How are humans creative in more ways than artistic?

Sir Ken Robinson in his book, The Element (my review), says we should not ask if a person is talented, but how the person is talented. We should also be asking not if a student is creative, but how a student is creative.

OK, so maybe some creativity ought not to be encouraged.

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Reader Comments (8)

2 things....

1. ) Dan Pink's "A Whole New Mind" would be a good source.

2.) I think technological creativity can be added. People with this form of creativity are not only good at creating products with technology, but are also quick to come up with alternative and creative uses/applications for software and hardware. Sir Ken Robinson talks about the medium that creative people "think with". I know that personally I "think" in the form of web pages and blog pages. It is my medium of choice. Don't know how I lived without it for the first 45 years of my life.

February 25, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJacquie Henry

I'd add "remixing", or the ability to take an object or set of objects, tear them apart or combine them in new ways to create something new. This is a fun way that a lot of kids express themselves now.

February 26, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSteve Johnson (edtechsteve)

Now that image is udderly ridiculous!! Some individuals are creatively punny. Many teachers are creative in finding ways to communicate concepts to students.

February 26, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAnne Oelke

I like that Ken Robinson line. It's like that line in the Star Trek movie (yes, I'm a geek) when they have to take a bunch of untested recruits out on a dangerous mission. The Capt. wonders how they'll do. Spock replies, "Each according to his or her own gifts."

Of course the whole "different intelligences" thing can be taken a too far:

February 26, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJim Randolph

In my opinion Creative people are most of the time inborn with it, because its their way of thinking out of the box. It is not learned in the school but rather it is their own identity. Having a creative mind makes you a cut from the clutter.

February 26, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterPromotional Printing

Hi Jacquie,

Tech creativity, especially in terms of programming, need to be added to this list. Thanks.

I like the cartoon I once saw that read "How did we look busy before there were computers?" I try to remember life BC (before computers) myself and wonder if it was better or worse. Different for sure.

All the best,


Hi Steve,

Genius is often described as using old ideas and things in new ways. Your creative category supports that.



Hi Anne,

Creative teaching ought to be added to the list for sure.



Hi Ninja,

Yeah, Star Trek is not a bad bible to follow! Loved the Onion article and will share it widely!



Hi ee,

It does seem many people are born with a creative gift. I do hope we can develop creative talents in all kids though. (Robinson would argue that schools make kids LESS creative!


February 28, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDoug Johnson

I think that ALL kinds of problem solving are creative, from figuring out how the best route up a climbing wall to how best to organize the hall closet.

March 1, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAnna Watkins

Thanks, Anna. Maybe there is always a coorelation between problem-solving and creativity!


March 1, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDoug Johnson

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