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Spur student creativity
According to a recent IBM poll, 1,500 CEOs identified creativity as the No. 1 “leadership competency of the future.” Unfortunately, research from the College of William and Mary® documents a continuous decline in creativity among schoolchildren over the last two or three decades. According to the study, scores on these tests at all grade levels began to decline somewhere between 1984 and 1990 and have continued to decline ever since.There is strong evidence that creativity is the missing piece within curriculum and that it ought to have a renewed focus. You can help boost creativity-related educational opportunities in your schools. But in order to gain parent and taxpayer support, you’ll likely need to build a case for creativity first. The trick is to help them understand the value of creativity in addition to traditional concentrations like math, science, reading and writing.

Creativity is critical
Sir Ken Robinson is an author, speaker and advisor on education from England. He gave a TED talk in February 2006 in which he spoke about the ideal education system as one that fosters more creativity for young children. He noted that children who start school in 2012 will be retiring in 2065, but that nobody knows what life will look like. Exercising their creative muscles now will better equip them to solve unprecedented predicaments someday, which is just another reason why creativity is so critical for young students.

Bring creativity to your school
You, too, can bring creativity to life in the classroom. Here’s how to begin:

  • Share Caine’s idea. Nine-year old Caine Monroy built his own cardboard arcade in 2011 and sold “fun passes” to make money. Struck by his creativity, LA-based filmmaker Nirvan Mullick made a short film about it that has since inspired 30 classrooms in five countries to implement creativity curriculum. Use this story to help provide context at a board or PTO meeting of the value of creativity and its impact on our children’s futures. Send home a small building block bank as a thoughtful piece to help them remember creativity can build (and to begin saving for a possible project).
  • Talk it up. Show Caine’s story in the classroom and send home informational pieces on adopting creativity curriculum with students Distribute colourful pencils to get them excited about the arcade games they will create. Send a blank pad of paper home with them, too, so that they can start brainstorming and drawing right away.

Who would have thought one young boy in Los Angeles would have inspired a filmmaker and a world of teachers and students? All it took was an idea.

Make creativity the key
Caine’s Arcade is one way among many to bring creativity into your school or district. There are many options, though all of them begin with building support. After all, if creativity is going to become a more significant part of the curriculum, you’ll need taxpayer support to make those changes.

Begin a dialogue within your community about the benefits that come with creativity. Remind parents and other stakeholders that it encourages unique approaches to problem-solving. If you need a jump start, consider working with a nonprofit organization like Destination Imagination or Odyssey of the Mind, which are dedicated to teaching students the creative process through problem-solving challenges. They’re both great resources for school or district-wide meetings so parents can draw their own conclusions about the value of creativity in the classroom.

Only after you’ve built a solid consensus is it safe to start planning an event that reinforces creativity.

  • Do a little local advertising. Banners in school and around the community work well to promote events for kids. Give the event a little extra oomph by partnering with area businesses. (Think local office supply or children’s educational retailers.)
  • Integrate creativity. Devote some time a few weeks prior to the event to weave brainstorming time into the school day. Regardless of the kind of creative venture you’ve decided on, block time for students to hash out ideas in a team setting. Further challenge them by asking them to present their ideas to the whole class.
  • Celebrate it. When the day arrives, reward participating students with t-shirts to infuse a sense of team spirit and camaraderie among them.

Creativity doesn’t have to be the missing piece; make creativity the key instead and let the future of our tomorrow be filled with those leaders we will need.

Merryman, Ashley, and Po Bronson. “The Creativity Crisis.” The Creativity Crisis – Newsweek and The Daily Beast. Newsweek/Daily Beast, 10 July 2010. Web. 05 Feb. 2013.

Gray, Peter. “As Children’s Freedom Has Declined, So Has Their Creativity.” As Children’s Freedom Has Declined, So Has Their Creativity | Psychology Today. Psychology Today, 17 Sept. 2012. Web. 17 Feb. 2013.

Ken Robinson Says Schools Kill Creativity.” Ken Robinson Says Schools Kill Creativity | Video on TED.com. TED: Ideas worth Spreading, June 2006. Web. 05 Feb. 2013.

Crotty, James Marshall. “Caine’s Arcade In East L.A. Inspires Curriculum.” Caine’s Arcade In East L.A. Inspires Curriculum – Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 07 June 2012. Web. 05 Feb. 2013.

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