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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation
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True Grit: The Best Measure of Success and How to Teach It

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Scott Rigsby, the first double amputee to complete a the Hawaiian Ironman triathon
Edutopia blogger Vicki Davis identifies the nature of grit, its necessity and value of grit in education, and ten ways of teaching students to develop their own grit.
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Colin Osterhout's picture
Colin Osterhout
Graduate Student, University of Alaska Southeast

The Daniel Pink video on motivation's primary drivers: autonomy, mastery, and purpose was excellent. I've had his work on my reading list for a while and those topics have definitely been in evidence in my own career path over my entire life. I enjoyed Angela Duckworth's video as well. Both excellent watches and have served to give names and labels to what I've been feeling for a long time, thank you for sharing!

Hifi's picture
Hifi
Character Education Researcher and Critic

Thank you for your thoughtful reply Vicki.

The bottom-line here is can you build grit via a program in public schools? "The honest answer is I don't know," Angela Duckworth.

Just like gravity, we suspect that something we can associate with grit exists, but there is little if any theory about where it come from. My suggestion is that testing hypotheses about such things doesn't belong in the classroom. Worse for grit is that unlike gravity there is no standard of measurement. So do ever know if anything improves it?

What we know does work is training and practice. We can measure a deficiency in math skills; we can measure an improvement in those skills as a result of a math program. Even better we can compare the results of one program to another.

G.W. Bush, of all people, said, "the adoption of public programs should be results-based." Duh!

BTW, you might be interested in knowing something about me. I am the author the Wikipedia article on Character Education. What qualifies me? Nothing, except that I was driven to take the substantial time to research, write, and maintain it in order to thoroughly debunk the Character Counts! program that my district got sold on, and in turn sold to their constituents. (Wasn't grit, it was aggravation. )

Coachpatrickv's picture

Vicki. Thank you for such a great post on grit. I reference it often in the work I do on goal setting. Along with proper planning and practice, grit is essential for durable goal achievement. I would also suggest the importance of the pygmalion effect in helping kids to develop grit. First, we need to let them know that we believe they are capable of more. Best wishes. Patrick Veroneau

gberry's picture

I believe it is not the role of education to teach students "grit". That is the role of parents. The problem with our educational system is not the teachers; it is the parents. Students come to the educational system unprepared to be taught. They do not have respect for the educational system. They do not want to put in the effort, yet expect high results. They take no responsibility for those results and blame his/her failures on everything else. All of these habits were learned at home and teachers are expected to break and/or retain what was taught to them by their parents and without the support of the parents. When they are unable to, just like the students, they blame the educational system and the teachers.

Adam Buchbinder's picture
Adam Buchbinder
Passionate about teaching students with learning differences with empowerment, grit, and resilience

As a current educator and a former student who struggled with learning challenges, my grit was instrumental to my academic and career success. Grit is something we can develop internally with concerted volition. Grit is built upon struggle and circumstance. Grit transcends unlikely odds. We should all aspire to increase our grit and find ways to implement it in our teaching.

Some folks have suggested that grit is difficult to measure and standardize. Both of these are true statements; but by avoiding teaching resilience and grit only because it's hard , we deprive our most vulnerable students of their greatest social and academic weapon. If our mission as educators is to provide equality of opportunity to our students, than we must implement grit into our curriculums and we must do it now.

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Lymarie Carl Baldesco Raganit's picture

From this context I learned a lot. Thank you Ms. Vicki Davis for sharing your thought. :)

The best measure of success is that you as an educator can help each students to have a more productive way in learning information. You can surely change their views in learning an can help them manage their life or control their way of engaging their daily aspect in learning. Now as teachers just you must need the grit to do whatever it takes to turn education around, and that starts with hard work and our own modern version of true grit. Teaching it and living it is now front and center in the education conversation. As this steps this will surely bring your learner to learn more.

Lilith's picture

Thank you for the interesting article.

How do we help teachers to develop "grit" for their profession? How do we keep them in the classroom rather than letting them teach a few years and then go on for another degree that takes them out of the classroom? I am thinking of great teachers who became administrators, coaches, or psychologists.

Gaetan Pappalardo's picture
Gaetan Pappalardo
Teacher, Author, Guitar––Word.

Lilith: You pose a great question. I think being a great teacher for a long time in the U.S. is very difficult because of the contact time with students. Students/kids can certainly grind you down and the more time you have with them the harder is becomes. It also depends on your district's population. I think great teachers leave the classroom for a few reasons. 1. They want to lead and change what's going on at the top. 2. They need more money. 3. They burned out.

This year will be my 16th year of teaching. I've worked under a few admin and I have to say that the best leaders I've had were in the classroom the longest. The admin who were in the classroom for 3-6 years, in my opinion, didn't have enough time to really "get it."

I'll always be a teacher. I don't see my future in any other way. But of course things change. I think my "grit" in the profession comes from my connections with people who inspire me, not only in the classroom, but in the world---Friends, artists, authors, musicians, teachers. People who inspire me to work hard and teach in a way that best suites ME. I think thats the key. I know some areas of education in the world are very controlling. I think the more a teacher is able to keep his/her style and philosophies/keeping his/her humanity....the more teachers, great teachers, will stay in the classroom, where they belong, for a longer time.

Gaetan

Deb Stahl's picture

In response to Donna Volpitta's comment on 1/2014 (I had no idea this article was this old! LOL): I think this has as much to do with the early childhood experiences of Millenials as anything else. We're seeing kids who've spent more time in virtual lives and academics and less time in play-based settings than previous generations (and this is becoming more and more the case right now), where non-academic skills are best learned and internalized. We really need to look at how we can "allow" these skills to develop early on, rather than trying to implement them via SEL down the road.

I'm not sure that I agree that grit is a cognitive skill requiring high-level thinking; I see it more as a character trait that can be shaped and encouraged to grow. Impulse control itself is something that begins to develop even in preschoolers, given the right setting and guidance.

Deb Stahl's picture

I'd like to take the whole idea of "teaching" grit in a different direction for a moment, if I could: As a music teacher who works with individual students (usually elementary and middle school levels) and also with very young children (birth-5), I am becoming more and more aware of what young children are born with and what they tend to develop and learn and internalize naturally and organically in the earliest years. Hifi touched on it - the part where young children praised for generosity being LESS likely to share w/o extrinsic motivation is part of it (Alfie Kohn has written about this; see Punished By Rewards). Kids come hard-wired to be empathetic, to be generous, to have persistence, to be creative, BUT given the time and space and setting in which to do so. Play-based pre-school settings are harder and harder to find as parents are being encouraged to have children reading and doing math BEFORE Kindergarten; free play, where children can "grow" the skills they're already born with or "wired" to develop, is at a premium - and we're having to resort to SEL in an effort to make up for the loss of YEARS.

IME it's nothing more than a stopgap measure. My kid can read books about persistence until she falls asleep, she can have harder and more rigorous stuff throw at her in an effort to "toughen her up" (yes, life is hard, but a lot of time what doesn't kill you does NOT make you stronger but weaker - let's be real about that too), but that won't inculcate persistence IN her - she came hard-wired for it, and when I got out of her way, she showed me what that looked like (I blogged it all those years ago). Now that she's in 5th grade, though, a lot of it has been UN-done: by unrealistic academic and behavioral expectations at school, by neverending homework, by too little time to just BE, with herself or with other kids, to the point where if this year becomes a repeat of her 3rd-grade year (last year she had a wonderful teacher who worked with who she was and began to heal, thankfully), I will yank her before any more damage is done. I see it in many of her classmates as well (I used to substitute regularly at the school and know the kids; many live in our neighborhood and I teach a number of of them music privately), and hear stories from other parents, so I know I'm not alone in my observations.

I don't work with high-schoolers - my focus is on the youngest kids - so from my vantage point, your list of strategies seems contrived and artificial. I certainly wish you every success - I just hope that at some point, educational policymakers see what kind of damage they're doing by closing windows for non-academic learning in the early years.

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Back-to-School Resources for Parents

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students posing for a first-day-of school photo
Find resources to help children begin school with a positive mindset, support their transition into a new school year, and prepare them for fall learning.

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Vu Nhat's picture

Great resources for back-to-school season. I think this is a nice list too: Back To School Toys for Kids 2015

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3 Ways of Getting Student Feedback to Improve Your Teaching

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Edutopia blogger Vicki Davis asks her students for professional development help, ending the year with in-class focus groups, a survey, and a call for anonymous notes that will guide her in improving her practice next year.
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Katie Schellenberg, JD, MA's picture
Katie Schellenberg, JD, MA
Advocate, Lawyer, Teacher and Founder of Beyond Tutoring

Another unconventional way to get student feedback is to have them construct a rubric for YOU as a way of teaching about how you are grading. Then when they get formal assessment grades, you can also receive grades as a meaningful way to explain how grades are instructed. This can be done as a class so you can really engage about grades, assessments and your own performance. This is only for the very bold!

(1)
JSpadine's picture

This is my first year teaching, and this post brought to my attention the importance of student feedback! I keep thinking of what I want to change or adjust for next year, but as always, students working as a group can accomplish more than I ever can on my own! I will definitely try the end-of-year focus groups. Thank you for sharing this idea.

Dr. Dickenson's picture
Dr. Dickenson
Assistant Professor of Teacher Education

Love the idea of using feedback as a summative self assessment but also believe it should happen more often such as at the end of a unit and through informal assessments at the end of a class especially when you are trying something new. Sometimes I just am honest with my students and say "this was the first time I tried this project what did you like about it, what did you not like about it and what do you think would make it better." Also for your summative assessment I would recommend first you begin with likert-type questions where you list each of the projects and have students rate using a five point scale. This would help students recall all of the things you did throughout the year. Then include your open-ended questions at the end of the assessment so students can give greater depth to their responses.

Nancy Walter's picture

I just completed a World War Z unit using Zombie Geography from Social Studies Services. Next year it will be my opening unit, too. You can never have enough Zombies or Pirates.

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Margot Schultz's picture
Margot Schultz
Waldorf Teacher

Yes! Feedback is priceless. I think it always needs to be taken with a grain of salt because students don't always understand what I am trying to do at a higher level and the agenda behind what I teach, how I teach it, when I teach it, etc. and so sometimes the comments can reflect that lack of understanding.

However, generally speaking it is very useful because most of the comments are genuinely insightful feedback, for example, on comprehension, pacing, interest, etc. which helps me adjust to meet their needs. And that, as we know, leads to better comprehension, understanding and integration which is what it's all about as far as I'm concerned...

melisa may penaranda's picture

Yes that is true feedback is one of the most important in the teaching-learning process. When a student had their feedbacks, then we must say that the student is listening to you.. They have the attachment on what a teacher is teaching..

Lymarie Carl Baldesco Raganit's picture

It's interesting and its true as I experienced feedback is somewhat like a tool that is used by the teacher for her to think of strategies he or she may use to catch attention of the learners and also for them to focus and participate in the discussion. Ms. Vicki Davis your tactics are very effective specially if you let your learners write a feedback from you because you can know what are their likes and dislikes in your teaching methods.

Ms. Davis for you as a teacher, what will you do if one of your student have a feedback or bad feedback in terms of speaking which that student can't understand your language because he/he is a newly transferred student from other country ?

Rian Sid Oncog's picture
Rian Sid Oncog
a rebel with a halo

I clicked this blog/article because the title is great. Titles can only tell so much. Halfway through reading this article, it really captured my liking!!! This is very applicable especially for future educators like myself. The strategies aforementioned is really effective especially when you want to improve. What I love about the first way mentioned ("End-of-Year Focus Groups") is the audio recorder used to record conversation that will be of good help if you review previous lessons which were boring. I equally love the second way or the "End-of-Year Survey" in which the blogger conduct anonymously and the survey is centered on the things needed to be improved. The third way ("Anonymous Notes") is actually brilliant wherein you receive anonymous notes on your table from students who have feed backs regarding the things to improve. Another helpful article. I can't really wait to venture across edutopia more because in edutopia, I find and read blogs which will come in handy when the time comes.

Sue Palmer's picture

As someone else mentioned, I thought the title of this blog was appealing enough to make we want to read more. I just started working on my Master's degree in Math and Science (K-8), and one of the things we talked about for educators was reflective practice. I like the idea of getting student feedback because it gives you something to reflect on from the students' perspective. I think getting the feedback anonymously is great because students can be honest without fear of repercussions. I already seem to intimidate my students enough where they wouldn't give me their feedback if I paid them for it. Students are so ready to please you that they think that if they criticize you, especially when recording their responses, you might get upset. Getting student feedback is part of my strategic goals that I decided to incorporate more during this school year to become a more effective teacher. I'm on the lookout for a template to use to create a student survey/feedback form to use this year. I think students would be caught by surprise or find it odd that a teacher actually wants their opinion about how they can improve. Many teachers may feel that its a sign of weakness to admit that "Yes, I do need to change and improve. Can I get your help?" I'll be the first to admit I don't know everything, and I think my students will appreciate the fact that I want and value their opinion.

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Arts Integration: Resource Roundup

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All points of arts integration -- from implementation in the classroom and engaging students, to linking the arts with core curriculum -- are covered in this roundup of useful Edutopia blogs, articles, and videos.

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Robyn Hill's picture

Can't tell you how much I appreciate this article with organized sites and apps. Thanks for integrating common core and arts and making it applicable.

Brandon Zoras's picture
Brandon Zoras
Science Teacher in Toronto, Canada

What a great set of resources. I am a science teacher but my favourite lesson from when I was in teachers college was when the prof had us think of science lessons that fit with another subject area. She had us make an entire unit on space through the arts. They called it Astrocreativity! I tried the lessons a few years later with my own students and they loved it. I am a big fan of bringing in choice assignments where students can use arts in science!

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To Teach Effective Writing, Model Effective Writing

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Edutopia blogger David Cutler believes that the best writing teachers model writing for their students. He suggests six strategies, including continuing to hone your own craft and demonstrating the value of sharing finished work.
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Gaetan Pappalardo's picture
Gaetan Pappalardo
Teacher, Author, Guitar––Word.

K. Svrjcek,

I think the teaching of writing is more philosophy, than following a program. Programs are great for resources, but when you try to implement a writing program you will find that there's not much writing going on. There are many authors you can check out who have thoroughly written about teaching writing (not programs). I always point teachers in the direction of Donald Graves (A Fresh Look at Writing) for a good foundation. Lucy Caulkins, Ralph Fletcher, Barry Lane, Tom Romano, Nancie Attwell. Vicki Spandel's "The Nine Rights of Every Writer" is a great short book. I've read all these authors and created a system that works for me within the writing program my school uses.

Gaetan

Farah Najam's picture
Farah Najam
Teacher Trainer and write on education

When teachers write, we provide a positive model for the students. Our example says we give more value to writing and find it useful, more so than when we sit and correct papers while the students write. When teachers sit and write, we give ourselves a chance to test our own writing assignments. One never understand why students didn't seem to enjoy more wholeheartedly my "Imagine You're a Hypnotist" topic--until I tried it myself. When a teacher writes, we help demystify the act of writing. Students many a times think that experienced writers find writing easy or have some magic ability to "get it right the first time." If we share our projects or write in front of the students, they can see what a sloppy, difficult act writing is for all writers.

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Rian Sid Oncog's picture
Rian Sid Oncog
a rebel with a halo

This is by far the greatest article I have read. I'm also a writer in my own way that's why this comes very helpful, and I'm also a future educator which is why this article has a double purpose. As a writer, the suggestions mentioned in the article is very helpful on improving my skills in writing and as a future teacher, I could apply the suggestions in my future discussions. I must say that the suggestions are very effective.

Lymarie Carl Baldesco Raganit's picture

It's a two-way purpose why we are writing, I being a composer of some poems made me more knowledgeable in gathering information as I go along. Letting the learners create such poems from their own words and creative mind can have an advance skills that could be a good start towards some attainment in life, to be a journalist, writer or even a writer.

Angie Wilson's picture
Angie Wilson
I am a 6th grade language arts teacher

This is a good article reminding me to continue to share my work with the students and let them know we all can learn from others and improve our written work. It is so hard for some students to hear constructive criticism. The more they have peer feedback and feed back from others, the more it becomes a part of the process. I try to make it really positive for the students. Daily they share their work with each other, pointing out positives and also ideas for the author. This students ultimately decide what they want to change. What do you think about having students blog with a public access to comment? I think it would make it very engaging and show of sense of ownership while making it meaningful, but the criticism could be harsh.

Scott Bedley @scotteach's picture
Scott Bedley @scotteach
Teacher, Creator, Un-Maker, Foodie, Global School Play Day

Hey Angie,

I've loved blogging with my students for several years and having an authentic audience is powerful for improving writing quality. I've found that most blogging platforms a teacher would want to use provide a tool to have the teacher moderate the comments and give approval prior to being made public. I think it's the safe way to go. I've also shared directly with other classes to build an authentic audience for my students. I really think it's important for us to teach kids how to write both positive and critical feedback online. We want them to have those skills.

Bryan J. Rupe's picture

Really good article, thank you. In our classes we invite professional writers to talk about their techniques. It makes a huge improvement in writing for students. At one point we started to motivate our students with help of our partners from http://paidpaper.net/ by paying for papers if they do a good job. Efficiency grew just in few weeks.

smshaw's picture

I love your article and really appreciate that I am not the only one to put myself out there by writing in front of my students. How do you feel about having students writing in front of other students or sharing student examples?

Peg Grafwallner's picture
Peg Grafwallner
Instructional Coach/Reading Specialist

Thank you for this article. As the Instructional Coach of a large urban high school, we continue to focus on writing and what that looks like. I have always enjoyed writing "on the side," but decided this would be the year to actually focus on my writing. My goal for next year is to model my writing process to share with students. So often they are expected to write analytical essays or "authentic" pieces (I'm not sure if we as a staff have an idea of what that looks like), without the possibility of publication. Might their writing grow and develop if they know there's a chance to be published? I'd like to find out!

Bruce Greene's picture
Bruce Greene
Teacher/Mentor/Field Supervisor Portland, Oregon

When teachers write with their students, they not only model writing they learn a good deal about the assignments they have created. I would often write with my students and ask for and receive feedback. We had an "author's chair," and everyone would take the author's chair to share their work with the class now and then. Having a larger audience ensures that students are not writing just for the teacher. Even students who have difficulty reading to their peers are encouraged to overcome that anxiety in a supportive community of writers. Doing so enable students to feel successful. In turn that success motivates.

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Project-Based Learning vs. Problem-Based Learning vs. X-BL

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John Larmer of the Buck Institute for Education clears up any confusion on the difference between project-based learning, problem-based learning, and whatever-else-based learning.
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Sarah Quigg's picture

I agree that education has gotten really heavy with acronyms lately. Although this article offers some clarity of the terminology of these engaging approaches, the bottom line is that they all are designed to get kids to become active participants in learning. I am less concerned about what to call what I'm doing in the classroom as I am concerned about whether or not it is working for my kids. Any time you can give them real world issues to problem solve and let them practice communication skills that they will use in the working world, they benefit and have fun in the process.

Abdelillah's picture

True enough the confusion between is cleared up but don't you think at bottom that both PBLs are complementary?I believe they make up the main aspects of the same approach.
You pointed out to 4 competences.Would you please identify them.Additionally,do both PBLs share the same 4 competences?

John Larmer's picture
John Larmer
Editor in Chief at the Buck Institute for Education

They're totally complementary! That's what I'd hope to convey. The 4 Cs are critical thinking, collaboration, communication and creativity.

Dan Callahan's picture
Dan Callahan
Professional Learning Specialist, Edcamper, Graduate Professor

Hi Abdelillah,
I agree about the idea of all forms of Experiential Learning being complementary. One of the grad classes that I teach for Antioch University New England specifically examines project-based, problem-based, place-based, and service learning, looking at their similarities and differences, and works on determining when each is most appropriate to use in the classroom.

Abdelillah's picture

Hi Dan,
What's meant by place-based and where it overlaps with project-based and problem-based.Thank you in advance.

Laura Thomas's picture
Laura Thomas
Director, Antioch University New England Center for School Renewal, Author of Facilitating Authentic Learning, Director of the Antioch Critical Skills Program; Elementary Library Media Specialist

Hi Abdelillah-
Dan did a great job of summarizing the differences, but I'd add that Place-Based Learning is usually a tool to ramp-up the level of rigor in a Problem or Project Based lesson since it places the learning in a more public context. David Sobel is a colleague of mine and he's sort of the father of the Place-Based movement. You can read more about his take on it here: http://www.antiochne.edu/teacher-education/integrated-learning/placed-ba...

Will M.'s picture
Will M.
Traveling the world to learn about education

Thanks for this. Very useful in clarifying the nuances between solid instructional approaches. Two other phrases I find help me focus instructional decisions are "treating students as sense makers" and the question "what can students do with what they know?" Also, deliberately communicating the group dynamic skills students should be refining as they complete projects and solve problems can insure they grow by leaps and bounds over the course of the year. Thanks again for a thought provoking article!

Dr. Richard Curwin's picture
Dr. Richard Curwin
Director, Graduate program in behavior disorder, David Yellin College

Hi John,

I am so proud of you. This post is a great example of your thoughtful and helpful contributions to education. I hope to see more of your posts on Edutopia in the future.

Your former and very proud teacher

MattsonConsult's picture

I agree with your comments to the letter. Project-based learning is more in keeping with what is found in the business environment. A cross-functional team of business department people come together to develop projects that focus on business growth, competitive strategies, etc. The end result is usually identifying measurable and operational outcomes. I believe this could be done with students, as long as they have proper guidance and direction.

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Teach Your Kids to Code: 6 Beginner's Resources for Parents

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Blogger Matt Davis has collected some handy resources that parents can use to help their kids start learning about computer programming.
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Elana Leoni's picture
Elana Leoni
Director of Social Media Strategy and Marketing @Edutopia, edcamp organizer

I'd also recommend getting involved in the Hour of Code: http://code.org/educate/hoc.

From the website:
Hour of Code is an opportunity for every student to try computer science for one hour.
You can also teach the Hour of Code all year-round. Tutorials will work on browsers, tablets, smartphones, or "unplugged."

From everyone I knew that did this in their class, they were very happy with it and it offered a way to make learning code a bit more recurring than just a one-lesson stint.

Also, my friend and educator, Sam Patterson (who wrote this post about Coding for Kinders: https://www.edutopia.org/blog/coding-for-kindergarteners-sam-patterson) also wrote this helpful post on how to get started with the hour of code: http://www.mypaperlessclassroom.com/2014/08/primary-teachers-learn-codin....

Enjoy!

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7 Tenets of Creative Thinking

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illustration of a light bulb on a blackboard
Michael Michalko explains that everyone is an artist and that it takes belief and persistence to nurture this quality. He offers seven principles about creative thinking that he wishes he'd known as a student.
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Marshall Barnes's picture
Marshall Barnes
Founder, Director of SuperScience for High School Physics

This article has so much misinformation in it that it would be shocking if it weren't for the fact that this is par for the course now in the creativity and innovation promotion industries. I say this as a recognized master in creativity who has applied advanced creativity techniques in 30 different fields and achieved 40 significant breakthroughs to date.

Especially misleading is #6 There Is No Such Thing As Failure. By over emphasizing the obvious - that you can learn from your mistakes, Michalko, makes the same error that those who promote "smart failing" do, - ignoring the costs of failure. Failure in all levels of life has varying degrees of costs and consequences. How many of you would want to drive a new car whose manufacturer had engineering teams that worked with this ethic? Well, it's happened and we know the consequences - property damage, injury and sometimes loss of life. Failure is to be avoided, learned from when it happens, yes, but not just so the same mistakes are not repeated, but that other types or errors can be avoided as well.

He also makes the critical error, that to me proves that he has nothing more than the most shallow and pedestrian understanding of creativity, and that is to cite the over-cited Edison quote about not failing, just learning how many thousand of ways something didn't work. What people don't don't hear much about is how much Edison hated Nicola Tesla, the true genius that gave us many other inventions among them, AC power (which Edison fought against tooth and nail and even killed elephants as a scare tactic against AC). Tesla would have flashes of inspiration, work out the details and then build his ideas which would work immediately. That's one reason why Edison hated him. Compare Tesla's method to Edison's and it's easy to see which is preferred. Edison's method wastes time, resources, and money as you go through trial and error over and over and over again. Edison had good ideas but he was not a creative genius because creative geniuses apply their creativity to all aspects of the problem solving process, a fact lost on Mr. Michalko. So failure is minimized and becomes less of a factor. It takes many Edisons to equal one Tesla, so many Teslas are worth far more than any number of Edisons. That's a lesson that companies concerned with innovation are learning now.

So how do you get more Teslas? By teaching people how creativity really works, where it really comes from and how to really use it. Something that it would appear is far above Mr. Michalko's pay grade and abilities...

If you want to learn more about how misinformation is running rampant in the innovation promotion industry (and obviously elsewhere), read my new blog - Paranovation at http://www.paranovation.blog.com .

Ed's picture
Ed
Cross-age tutoring program director with an interest in elevating youth

I think the discussion on Michael Michalko's point #6 "There is no such thing as failure" is a bit more nuanced than either Michalko or Marshall Barnes present.
Yes, there is such a thing as failure. It is when an idea does not work and you have learned nothing from the failure. In the lab, I designed all my experiments with components that ensured that no matter how the test came out, I would learn something that would inform an improved experiment next time. Even then, I would still have failures when, unknown to me, a formerly reliable reagent had gone bad or a machine was malfunctioning.

Has Edison been more of scientist, instead of a dogged technician, he would have analyzed his failures, drawn and tested conclusions, and arrived at successes with fewer trails.

I agree mostly with Mr. Barnes about Tesla with regard to his superior creativity. Tesla had the ability to hold and manipulate a large volume of detail in his head. By the time he resorted to experiments in the physical world, his success rate was very high because he had already conducted multiple experiments in his head, and eliminated the false leads. On one transatlantic cruse, he designed a dynamotor (if I recall correctly) in his head, complete with detailed dimensions. He passed on his design to his technicians when he landed, and the fabricated machine worked on first try. As a simple way to convey the concept of holding and manipulating multiple details in your head, try converting the fraction 13/37 into its decimal equivalent to fifteen places, while on a hike, all in your head.

The rivalry between Edison and Tesla displays a point not mentioned by either Michalko or Barnes. Emotions play a large role in hampering a person's creativity. This reduced Edison's ability to look at AC current objectively. I have seen a number of scientists get stuck on a pet idea and spend large parts of their careers passionately work to prove they are right, even when they clearly were not. Human emotion and reaction, displayed as an inability to change one's mind blocks creativity. Stated more positively, cheerful attitude, combined with passion and purpose supports a deeper mental nimbleness and creativity. This works for scientist and all creative endeavors.

Emelina Minero's picture
Emelina Minero
Editorial Assistant

Your quote about how Thomas Edison viewed failure reminds me of a quote form Michael Jordan, "I've missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I've been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed."

I love your blog post and completely agree that "You construct reality by how you choose to interpret your experiences."

The first tenet, "You Are Creative," reminds me of the thought, feeling, action loop. You said that if people don't believe they are creative, they won't act creative, and they won't be creative. Their thoughts impact their feelings, which in turn impact their actions.

It amazes me how cultivating self-awareness impacts our ability to become conscious of our thought patterns, ones that impact us both negatively and positively, and how we can use that awareness to look at how those thought patterns/beliefs came to be, and either replicate them, or challenge and change them.

Suzanne's picture

Creative thinking can be encouraged through question stems and prompts. The revised Bloom's taxonomy model for higher order thinking develops an approach to thinking. It deepens understanding of a topic from recall, to analysis and application. I liked the second tenet how it takes work. Each idea begins a process for learning and how to learn leading you to the right answer.

anil kk's picture
anil kk
PhD Candidate in Science Education

Very important points to ignite and sustain creative spirit in the learner. Great presentation.

Sarah Z's picture
Sarah Z
Reading Instructor, Tutor and Blogger focused on improving education for struggling students

Thank you so much. What a beautiful article.
I began to read this thinking I would find ideas for me as a teacher; I ended up finding inspiration and encouragement for me personally instead.

(1)
Will M.'s picture
Will M.
Traveling the world to learn about education

I think building students capacity to be creative is the great unanswered challenge in education today and I've struggled with how best to do it over the course of a year. It's not what you know anymore, it's what you can do with what you know. Also, should we seek to measure growth in creativity or does that undermine the effort by manufacturing a 'right answer'?

jessica.grabato's picture

Wonderful article, something that is worth sharing. I learn a lot , its nice to know how we can improved our creativity. But I disagree with #6 because i know there is a thing such as failure, we all know that we learn from all our mistakes but it doesn't change the fact that we did still fail.

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SEL and the Common Core, Part Two: Why Emotion Vocabulary Matters

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A group of elementary school children in conversation and smiling
No matter what age student you teach, or for parents, the age of your child, helping children build their emotion vocabularies will help them be more successful in and out of school.
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Miss Valencia's picture

give the students a list of emotions/feelings (with pictures), then read a book and have the students yell out a word from the list that could be used instead

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Fred Mindlin's picture
Fred Mindlin
writing teacher, digital storyteller, creative computing coach

When I work as a substitute teacher, I usually tell the class right away that I'm not going to use their teacher's discipline system, I'm just going to ask them to be kind to each other so we can all have a good day. I explain the etymology from kinship, and ask that we be a learning family together. This usually works, and your piece makes me think I should add some emotion words that we elicit around a discussion of what family means, to deepen the experience. Thanks for the insight.

Maurice Elias's picture
Maurice Elias
Prof. of Psychology, Director, Rutgers Social-Emotional Learning Lab, Director, the Collaborative Center for Community-Based Research and Service

Wonderful suggestions! Expanding emotion vocabulary is only going to become more and more important. Attaching the vocabulary to an ethic of kindness, or to the operation of a classroom discipline system, is a way of adding to those frameworks while also fostering greater generalization of the use of emotion words!

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Edcamps: Remixing Professional Development

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Edutopia blogger Andrew Marcinek gives us a personal perspective on how the Edcamp model changed his professional focus, and provides examples of how he's adapted this model for staff, students and community.
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Kevin Jarrett's picture
Kevin Jarrett
Teaching Middle School 'Technology, Engineering & Design' in Northfield, NJ

Andy, thank you for this fantastic post. I love how you start out with a bit of Edcamp history and then launch into examples of how you changed professional practice in your school. This is what Edcamp is all about: building and supporting a community of empowered learners. Thanks for so eloquently making the case.

For those interested, Edcamp Philly is celebrating its fifth year in 2014 and will be held at the Science Leadership Academy on May 17th. Tickets are available now:

http://www.edcampphilly.org/

For more about the Edcamp movement, visit us online:

http://edcamp.org/

Thanks again for helping spread the Edcamp gospel.

Kevin Jarrett
Edcamp Co-Founder

whitakin's picture

I enjoyed reading your post. I agree on the unmandated Professional development opportunities. We all struggle with time management at my school and I feel like giving teachers quality time to participate in a PLC is critical for student learning. I love your idea of "Smack Down."

Monique's picture
Monique
Educator

Inspiring! Thank you for sharing. We are planning a EdCamp in Portland, Oregon and look forward to learning from experiences like yours.

vski's picture

I enjoyed this article. I like the idea of an unconference PD. It seems that there is too much time spent during PD with speaks, speaking at you instead of learning strategies that may be useful in the classroom. I also liked the idea of the teachers being involved with deciding what topics they feel would be most beneficial to them as educators.

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