Today, my nearly 250 students turn in their final creativity projects. This will represent, for most of the students, a tremendous learning achievement, to produce something meaningful, valuable, and creative that relates significantly to multiple aspects of world civilization from the past 500 years. So the idea of creativity will be foremost on my mind as I grade these projects, and, I’ll confess, this is one of the most satisfying aspects of my role as a teacher, to see these incredible projects each year. I am usually blown away by the creativity of the students. Now, if as teachers we would just get out of their way in learning and performing, I think we would be stunned at how capable students are if we unshackle them.
So driving home on Monday, NPR was talking about Bubba Watson who just won the Master’s in Golf. NPR several times used the word “creative” to describe Bubba. My question is, was NPR too narrow in its definition of creativity? Is creativity really unsustainable and spontaneous? Or is this simply a myth that we preach and teach and live by and hence when we try to help students unleash their creativity they feel confined by the traditions of society that only “spontaneous” individuals are creative? That such people get lucky, perhaps like Bubba? No! Creativity is NOT a gift. We do serious harm with that myth. We shackle people down in the darkness of mental defeat with such unfounded, unsupported myths! Creativity is a skill, an ability like any other that can be learned and developed through deliberate practice. Don’t believe me? Just ask Geoff Colvin.