What has creativity got to do with my school district’s success and me as a leader?
Tuesday, November 12, 2019
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Section: From Contributors




Educators face a daunting mission today. Information is propagating faster than most mere mortals can keep up with. Technology is accelerating changes in ways that make it increasingly challenging to imagine the future. Everything is changing at breakneck speed: the cars we drive, our energy sources, the way we build, the way we shop, the food we eat, even how we get jobs done.
Educators face a daunting mission today. Information is propagating faster than most mere mortals can keep up with. Technology is accelerating changes in ways that make it increasingly challenging to imagine the future. Everything is changing at breakneck speed: the cars we drive, our energy sources, the way we build, the way we shop, the food we eat, even how we get jobs done. Even more unfathomable, but seemingly inevitable, is the merging of machines and humans, which has been dubbed the “4th Industrial Revolution.” How do we prepare not only our students, but also our teachers for an unknown future? What kind of school system is needed to adapt to these unpredictable needs of the rapidly evolving modern workplace?

We don’t have all the answers to these questions just yet, but by embracing creativity as tool for that adaptation, we just might start the right conversations. Creativity provides the unique skills attributes required for being able to adapt and problem-solve our way through whatever comes next. This includes stimulating creative mindsets, ensuring student work is rich in creative problem solving, and being intentional about stimulating a creative school climate and culture. While businesses are embracing creativity as an essential talent development tool, most school districts, schools, and classrooms have been slower to integrate creativity development into their operations.   

Frighteningly, research is showing that creativity is actually declining in schools, as underscored by Professor K.H. Kim (“The Creativity Challenge: How We Can Recapture American Innovation”) whose research was highlighted in a cover story by Newsweek.  In particular, she points out:
 
  1. STUDENTS OFFER FEWER IDEAS TO OPEN ENDED QUESTIONS and FEWER UNIQUE IDEAS ARE BEING EXPRESSED
  1. THINKING IS WITH LESS DEPTH, LESS FOCUS, LESS CRITICAL & MORE BLACK AND WHITE
  1. STUDENTS ARE LESS OPEN TO NEW EXPERIENCES AND DIFFERENT PEOPLE, IDEAS AND VIEWS
One organization that has been quietly tackling issues head-on for nearly two decades is Boston-based FableVision Learning. Founded by Peter H. Reynolds, creativity champion and bestselling author/illustrator, FableVision Learning has been developing its unique blend of storytelling, constructionist technology, and teacher support programs that are helping foster critical creativity skills for both students and educators. 

Keenly aware that creativity is a learned skill that requires a growth mindset and climate to develop, Reynolds has challenged teachers to “Create Bravely” all around the globe. For example, International Dot Day, which celebrates creativity and the courage to make one’s mark, has already reached over 16 million teachers, librarians, and students in 183 countries. Clearly, the demand for resources that support creativity is universal around the globe.
 
Building on the Dot Day phenomenon, FableVision Learning has recently debuted the Creativity Circle International, which offers a unique community of practice for school leaders and teachers looking to integrate creativity skills development in their practice. The community provides online courseware, support and resources, as well as a mechanism for educators to accelerate the transfer of innovative, promising practices across the network. 

Imagine if more district superintendents used creativity skills to prepare for the future. What would it look like? What if district staff worked with teachers to imagine the unimaginable, to see endless possibilities of answers, to make connections, to problem solve? What would the classroom look like? How would we assess students if the assessments were based on solving future problems, and not acquiring fleetingly-pertinent knowledge?  

FableVision Learning is asking these questions and is designing programs for leaders to fill in the leadership gaps in the creativity development space, as well as strategies that develop students’ full potential in more holistically, supportive ways. To that end, we are supporting creative and compassionate system leaders who are developing the skills and capabilities to think systemically, design locally, and lead with humility.  

While we can’t slow down the rate of change we are experiencing in the world, we can advance and accelerate the development of creativity that will help us and the students we serve navigate this brave, new world. For more information on FableVision Learning and its creative leadership development programs, visit www.FableVisionLearning.com.

“One of the greatest weapons that we have against uncertainty is creativity. It's how we forge something new out of it.” -Tim Brown, CEO/IDEO
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