More often than not, in the educational world, I hear teachers equate creativity with making art or drawing. And it is typically followed by the firm statement: “I’m not creative.” Sadly, I believe this mindset results from a traditional cycle of learning that humans have experienced for ages. Teachers require students to 1. consume information to be stored for later use and 2. regurgitate said information into a specific package designed by said teacher. Out of one box and into another. In this learning cycle, creativity seems to only exist in art class, drama class, maybe even music class. Even then, one might find a teacher asking, “make it like this or draw it like this,” turning the personal creative journey into one of performance and assessment.

The challenge of thinking creatively requires us to change the way we think about thinking. Teacher preparation programs typically focus on embedding critical thinking skills in the learning experience. However, the learning process includes so much more than critical thinking. As we look at the modern world, it is the essential combination of critical thinking AND creative thinking realized in constructive thinking that has propelled us forward. Everything from mobile devices to medical advancements to innovative technologies started with a need or problem that required new and unique ways of thinking, ultimately producing a product or service to better humanity.

As we move forward into the next school year, how might we meld the power of critical thinking (analyze, evaluate), creative thinking (elaboration, originality), and constructive thinking (bring thinking into reality by creating something from learning) to help our learners explore their intelligence and creativity?

To build thought leaders and change-makers for a better tomorrow, students need time, space, and opportunity to develop confidence, perseverance, and communication in complex thinking and creative problem-solving. Designing learning experiences that complement depths of knowledge continually harness learners’ abilities to create, improvise, and play to make meaning.

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