Tuesday, January 18, 2005

How do you measure creativity?

Reading the New Yorker this week, I was struck by this quote. See if you can figure out what the writer is referring to:

[They] had so loaded training schedules with doctrinaire requirements and standardized procedures that [the students] had no time--or need--to think for themselves. [The instructors] were encouraging "reactive instead of proactive thought, compliance instead of creativity, and adherence instead of audacity."

Wanna guess what the article was about? High school? Early reading or math programs? Nope.

It's about the training of army officers. Yup. They're suffering from the affliction called standardization in their schools, too.

Here's the challenge to NCLB proponents -- and to all of us really -- how do we measure creative thinking? Flexibility? Innovation? Why has "thinking outside of the box" become such a cultural cliche? Because we were put inside the box in schools all of our lives; we were taught to do what everyone else did, when we were told to.

I know that's necessary to some extent, but the question remains: How do we measure the ability of students to innovate, improvise, adapt, and apply their learning in trying situations?

Or is that not important?


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