Testing our charismatic creatives
There is a train of thought that we should start to standardise testing for creativity.
The reason for this is that business is crying out for creativity.
Governments, through schools, want to equip children with skills that allow them to economically sustain themselves. They see business as a key source of economic prosperity for students coming out of school. In order for the kids to be able to work in business, they need to have the skills business is crying out for.
So they ask “What is one way to see if they do have those skills?”
Answer…Test for it via a standardised exam.
This doesn’t seem very creative to me. That is, I don’t think standardise testing creativity stimulates the creation of original ideas that adds value to the world.
What I think does is finding a problem and attempting to solve it and provide an environment that allows mastery, autonomy and purpose to blossom.
Creativity is a process
Creativity is an iterative process, and therefore the first idea, say one that goes into an exam answer, may not be the most valuable one.
Like most original solutions, we come up with an idea, we put it out there to see if it works. If it does, we celebrate and then scale. If it doesn’t, we review, take a breath and start again.
Rarely will we start again completely from scratch though. We have existing knowledge. Some we will repeat and some we will not.
We just don’t have time to go over and over this process in an exam. We are pressured for time. Some say that when we restrict resources, like time, this is when we truly become creative. I would agree, but rarely in life does this restriction come with the inability to bounce ideas off other people.
Creativity is a process of original ideas that have value - Sir Ken Robinson
Creativity doesn’t happen alone
Exams are solitary experiences. We are expected to come up with all the answers on our own. This just doesn’t happen in real life. We are always responding to people, places and nature around us.
Powerful ideas attract powerful ideas to it.
The iPhone is a device that has had an industry of application builders thrive around it, creating tools all designed to solve other problems beyond just communication and taking photos. I don’t think Steve Jobs would have conceived of the myriad of functions the iPhone now has as a result of all the amazing Apps built to make our lives easier.
Creativity is best served with friends I say.
Each stage of the creative process is richer and more rewarding for it.
Creativity happens through ‘doing’
The most powerful way to learn is by doing it.
Testing an idea by putting it into action. This is why I think project learning is so valuable and why we have girls ‘do’ a daily task in our annual Creative Challenge.
Creativity can not exist unless we actually create something.
We can create a plan on paper. We can surmise what the outcome will be, but unless we implement it, we will never know.
Victory comes from finding opportunities in problems. – Sun Tzu
If we do test creativity, here is how students can answer it
If we do decide to assess creativity (I hope we don’t), then this is how I would recommend students tackle it.
Rather than trying to come up with an original solution to the problem in the exam, describe your process of creativity.
Don’t focus on the outcome, because who really is in a position to say that your outcome is good or bad. But if you can explain your thinking and why it is one that sits comfortably with you and the environment you operate in (context), then that is powerful.
If I may share a story
The other day we were on the way to daycare with our son. All of a sudden he was crying out from the back seat “I am thirsty, I am thirsty.”
We looked around and there were no water bottles in the car.
My husband and I looked at each other. We could go back and buy a bottle of water from the shop we had just come from.
The problem with that solution was twofold and both have to do with our values.
- I am averse to buying bottled water. I would much prefer to take an existing container and fill it from the tap.
- My husband had to be somewhere after we did drop off and going back to the shop would make us late not only for Day Care but also for his friend. Neither of us like holding others up.
My husband remembered he had a water bottle in his golf bag in the back of the car. We could use that.
“I’m thirsty,” came the cries again.
I said, “Dad is going to give you his special golf water bottle. When we get to school you can have it then.”
Quiet came over the back seat. He was happy with that.
It felt like he was getting a special treat (Gifts is the Love Language of many kids!) which alleviated the “burning desire” for a drink of water.
A seemingly mundane problem was solved with originality and calm in a way that was aligned with our values. No stress and everyone was happy.
The creative process was used (see below image) but not consciously.
I didn’t say it out loud or even in my mind – “ok let’s Saturate ourselves with some options, Percolate it over with what we value, offer a solution, Celebrate when it works and then Relax knowing everyone is happy.”
No! We didn’t say this, although this is exactly what we did.
This process of creativity is something we naturally do. We have been doing it from birth. We just forget how to, the older we get.
The advantage of having a process with 5 simple steps, is it takes the overwhelm out of not knowing the answer.
It stops us getting worked up about getting stuck. When we know where we are in the creative process, we know exactly what we need to do next to find a clever solution that makes everyone happy.
The key to using this process is understanding the ‘soft’ side of yourself. The internal stuff like what you are good at, what you value and love doing, how you like being acknowledged so it spurs you on.
When we have an idea that sits comfortably with us that we believe can change the world for the better, we can authentically communicate it.
When we believe what we are saying and doing, this makes it so much easier to convince others to come along for the ride with you. I think you would agree this is way more fun that slogging out trying to go it alone.
When we get competent at working through our creative process and we do this in a way that it true to our beliefs and abilities, the result is a Charismatic Creative.
Now there is definitely a place for that in the world.
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