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BFTP: Johnson's Theory of Multiple Creative Abilities

I've written briefly before about how we need to expand Sir Ken Robinson's statement "We should not ask if a student is intelligent, but how a student is intelligent" to read "We should not ask if a student is creative, but how a student is creative."

I've been thinking (ouch!) about this statement- an absolutely critical understanding for all educators to internalize, given both the vocational and personal abiliites needed for success and happiness in age of automation and outsourcing,

Howard Gardner in his 1983 book Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences suggested educators expand their view of intelligence. Rather than just thinking that kids who could read, write, and do math well were smart, Gardner asked us to recognize those students who were artistically gifted in the visual and musical arts; those who excelled physically in sports and dance; and even those who might exhibit spiritual and ecological abilities beyond the norm. I believe this had a positive impact on education.

I am humbly suggesting we also expand our view of creativity. While related to intelligence, creative abilities combine originality with craftsmanship to good produce something that has value. Talent and giftedness are a natural ability to exhibit craft in certain areas of creativity.

In a somewhat arbitrary fashion, I’ve chosen twelve areas where I have seen students at all age level exhibit creative abilities and grouped them.

Artistic creativity

1. Writing/Presenting/Storytelling
2. Graphic artistic (drawing, painting, sculpting, photography, designing)
3. Musically artistic

Academic creativity

4. Numeric problem-solving and coding
5. Scientific inventiveness
6. Content-area specific creativity (history, languages, literary interpretation, etc.)

 Physical creativity

7. Athletic/movement (Sports, dance)

Interpersonal creativity

8. Humor
9. Team-building/ interpersonal personal problem-solving
10. Leading/Organizing
11. Motivating/inspiring

Academic survival "innovation"

12. Excuse-making, teacher manipulation, cheating, etc.

I am very interested in hearing from you, Blue Skunk readers, about whether this makes sense. Whether the organization is appropriate (I am thinking about how we may assess, teach, acknowledge these areas). What I've left out and what shouldn't be included.

And of course, I'd love examples of students exhibiting creativity in any and all of these areas. 


Original post 2/24/14


The Hiking Club Challenge

As the map above shows, the most distant state park in Minnesota from where I live is over six hours away by car. I'm assuming that is when the roads are neither flooded or snow packed. Not always a good assumption to make given weather we've experienced this year.

I have never been to Lake Bronson State Park, nor had I ever intended to go, before learning from a couple of hiking companions about the DNR's Hiking Club. This "challenge" was devised by Minnesota's Department of Natural Resources to promote activity in the state's 70 state parks.

While over my 30 year residence in Minnesota I've managed to get to 23 state parks, this challenge is a great incentive to explore places I'd may not have considered otherwise. And to actually experience them by hiking a recommended trail.

For $15, one purchases a small booklet at a state park office that serves as an official checklist for completing each of the identified hikes in individual parks. The hikes range in length from 1 to 6.2 miles and (so far) they are well marked. Somewhere along each trail is a sign with a "password" hikers record as proof they have completed the hike. 

Last weekend I finished two hikes:

Jay Cooke State Park just south of Duluth:

The St Louis River from the Hanging Bridge

and Split Rock State Park just north of Two Harbors:

Iconic view of Split Rock Lighthouse

Moronic viewer of Split Rock Lighthouse

I've been thinking a lot about the root of the word "recreate" - to re-create. As I transition from a world of work to a world of retirement, I expect "re-creation" to play a large role. I have always loved hiking, bicycling, and other forms of travel, but they were always apportioned out as my vacation days allowed. 

No more. Watch out park rangers - I'm on the trail! 

Any similar challenges in your state or country?



The anti-goal year


Today is a day on which I have nothing on my calendar. I will go to the Y for a couple hours. I need to buy a few perishables at the grocery store. I have a presentation to review for an upcoming conference. I should water my flowers. But there is nothing that says I need to be in a certain place by a certain time - or actually get anything done.

Honestly, I struggle with days like these.

I've now been retired for a bit over two months. I've travelled, completed some household projects, visited family, done a bit of writing, and stepped up my exercise routine. What "work" I've done has been for some volunteer organizations of which I am a member.

On more than one occasion I've started looking at job postings. I am approved as a substitute teacher (but have taken no jobs.) I've been asked to teach online for a local university. But I resist. 

As much as I am uncomfortable with the blank days on my calendar, I am doing my best to keep the promise to myself of a year of living irresponsibly. During this year, the first after 45+ years of consecutive fulltime employment, I've pledged not feel obligated to work. Or to volunteer. Or to accomplish anything. Or to set or hold myself accountable to goals. I will follow my "Rules for Retirement" and entertain some challenges (see next post), but I will not allow myself to feel guilty for being "non-productive." This has been more difficult than one might think.

For a number of years now, I have also felt that I should step back from opining about professional questions and problems and to let a younger set tackle them with new eyes and new enthusiasm. I worry "wisdom" is overrated. That being said, I do have an article in T-L coming out and I am speaking at a couple conferences. 

I have never really understood monks, priests, yogis, etc. who made their work mediation and reflection. But I have come to realize there is an art to doing nothing. When you do not have your work to define you, what does? Perhaps work for many of us has been simply a means of keeping from having to live with ourselves, to reflect too deeply?

Most of the other retirees I meet seem happy, content, and rather busy. I have yet to discover their secret.