On May 4, 2017, we had an amazing Creative Power Day, engaging almost 600 students in Vancouver, Mill Valley, San Francisco, Oakland, Cleveland, Boston, Cork, Oslo, and Mumbai.
Our goal was to show young people that building their creative power would make them better at everything they tried – from schoolwork, sports, and the arts, to being better friends now and being stronger leaders in the future. We conducted 22 workshops in 5 countries to help students see connections between disparate concepts, develop an openness to new ideas, and building resilience through experimentation. The response was incredibly positive from students, teachers, and families!
Check out some of the comments about Creative Power Day from our participants!
Why does creativity matter?
Sir Ken Robinson describes creativity as “the process of having original ideas that have value.” This is a powerful definition, but creativity is not only about the process or the ideas, it’s about the authors. When we nurture the creative mindset in an individual – particularly in young people – we’re building a life-long ability to see the world for what it could be, not what it is now. This is one of the most important investments we can make in the next generation.
When have you ever heard of anyone being “against” creativity?
Creativity is the number one most desired trait in classrooms, board rooms, startups, and society. Leaders around the world continuously cite creativity as a key strategic vector for success. The reality though is that when confronted with creative ideas, people habitually diminish, disparage, and discredit the authors of those ideas. Studies have surfaced a "bias against creativity" – the systematized and often unconscious manner by which creative ideas and the people who espouse them are penalized. Amazingly, the very organizations that call for creativity are often unwittingly squelching it, and unfortunately this bias against creativity starts as early as elementary school. [See citations in the Resources section.]
Where do we start?
After spending 20+ of my career as a creative problem-solver, I firmly believe we need to radically change this bias and behavior. Unlocking natural creativity is our best hope in solving the tough challenges we face around the global and in our local communities.
There are many different ways we can try to tackle this issue of the bias against creativity, from corporate program and teacher support, to diversity and inclusion policies. While many interventions are needed at all ages and all situations, we chose to focus initially on elementary school students (8-11 year olds) because this is an impressionable developmental time both emotionally and intellectually. From a social perspective, it's a time when young people are acutely aware of the judgement of their peers, and this is when they start to self-censor. We believe that we can imbue a lasting sense of self-efficacy and resilience by building Creative Power in these young people.
Our goal is not to cultivate budding designers or artists (although that would be a plus!). Instead we are trying to encourage students to ask questions, think differently from the status quo, and learn how to hear and accept new ideas in ourselves and others. While the focus is on students now, our hope is that we will bring about a general awareness of the unconscious bias against creativity to the teachers, administrators, parents and guardians, and students who take part in Creative Power Day. We believe that even through this light-touch intervention we can have a positive influence.
We don't have all the answers, but we have a lot of great questions!