And now for something completely....cRe@tivE.

In a conversation on Twitter, a school administrator poses these questions:

                   How do we grade creativity? How do we measure the imagination?

He follows up with the idea that We can "attempt to evaluate [creativity], but we can't. Imagination is immeasurable, and we are fools for trying to quantify it."

In the recent push to incorporate creativity in the curriculum, we do run into trouble if we try to "grade" creativity if we define it as a product or an "end" or as a quality of being.  In that sense, he's absolutely right!

My guess is that some educators may think that by adding an artsy sort of something to a unit, then, they have successfully integrated a creative component in the curriculum. I'm not saying everyone is doing that, but unless everyone understands that creativity is not a what or a thing or a project or a product, then we do run that risk.

Thus, I disagree with his points, only because the working definition is flawed.

Creativity is a process. It is the "how". It is the decision-making process we undergo, from start to finish. It is not the "thing" itself.

With that in mind, can we authentically grade a process? Yes. If we get past the idea of evaluation as the means by which we grade this process or perhaps more specifically:  this way of doing something.

Rather, if the process of the class is one of considering aloud, postulating openly, pondering, making mistakes without fear, making decisions based on mistakes, trying something out, giving it a go, attempting, and seeking, followed by another series of attempts and decisions, then as an educator, you CAN see that happening or not happening in your class.  Of far greater value is the student's ability to "see" how to work through mistakes, changes, decisions, than the arbitrary evaluation of how "good" his or her final artifact is..

We CAN grade students' decision-making process. We CAN have them walk us through that process for the grade. Perhaps that's the crucial point:  we need to see them moving through the process, and if we see them moving through it, they should be rewarded points.

             Teacher! I made a mistake!  

          Awesome, Juanita! How do you want to handle that? 

         You offered up a solid idea, Mark! By thinking out loud, you help all of us learn!

         I saw how you worked through that problem in at least four  different ways, Xeng.  Way to go!

When a student walks into a creative classroom, he or she should feel immediately ready to play with ideas and thoughts and things without fear. Only then, can we honestly say that we've integrated creativity into our curriculum.

But, don't take my word for it! I base my definition of creativity on an individual who far exceeds my abilities! Here is his video, in which he provides not only a definition for creativity but also some solid strategies for educators to think about. It's well worth your time!

A Talk of Creativity

Mindy Keller-Kyriakides is the author of Transparent Teaching of Adolescents: Defining the Ideal Class for Students and Teachers.  Become part of the conversation!


  1. "The reason it is futile to talk about creativity is because it cannot be explained."(Cleese) Yet, we want to grade it? If I can follow a process to be creative then is that really creative?
    "They were able to play..just for it's own enjoyment." Am I being creative in your class for enjoyment or for those dreaded, archaic, outdated points? I can probably pretend to be creative. I can give the illusion of following a pre-conceived process for the carrot on the stick (points). However, the points are a detrimment to creativity and the points help creat the "closed mode.". Perhaps kids that are not showing you creativity are stifled by the points. Points narrow the focus from pure enjoyment to...prize, and they insinuate failure. When I am totally at ease I play like a champ. Put a few "judgers" in the room and I clam up. So, perhaps you can grade a persons ability to "chill."
    We, as educators need to feel important, we have that need to feel needed for learning to occurr. We have taken children out of the sandbox, put them in desks and now try to teach/grade/measure creativity. We have this need to validate our own expertness our own purpose. our egos call for us to- and we must also convince ourselves (and others) that we are not just being anyting but arbitrary- but we are being arbitrary. Try as you may to rationalize it,(and forgive me if I am edgy- that is a problem I have that causes people to not want to continue discussing- I dont mean to be I just get passionate) we can't look at people and say your creativity is an A, yours is a C+. Sorry Melvin you fail due to your inability to prove to me that you are creative. Watch Dan Pink;s Ted talk on how people are motivated. We need to get rid of the points.
    I know you talk about grading a process of brainstorming- but it is just that- brainstorming- is a whacky idea creative? How whacky an idea is just rediculous vs creative? Who decides that?
    What about the quiet kid that may have the best idea ever but he doesn't offer it? Is he not creative? Perhaps we are both playing a semantics game. However, I don't think we measure the imagination or creativity- I think it terribly pompous of us to think we can.


  2. Your point about semantics may be at the crux, here, Mike, because many of your thoughts here are in conflict with what I'm trying to explain. Eep! It looks like we define the concept differently, so, let's start there. How do you define the concept of creativity? Is it something you want from students (speaking from your experience as a teacher)? Is it something you want from your teachers (speaking as an admin.)?

    If you and I can come to an understanding of what each is trying to say, there's hope for everyone on both sides of this issue! : )

  3. How do you feel about points, grading, ranking of kids etc..? Above you state that "if we see them moving through it, they should be rewarded points." My problem wiht our whole system is that we focus on points and not learning. But back to the discussion at hand...
    Creativity is the use of the imagination.
    I taught PE. I wanted the kids to have fun. I wanted to create a moment in their day to help them endure the sitting and listening they would be doing the rest of their day. Again, watch the kids in the halls, watch them in the cafe, watch them iin their "natural environment." They are creative- Some more then others. Again, do you really think you teach creativity? Have you seen this? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zDZFcDGpL4U

  4. Okay, I want to make sure I follow your thinking, here!

    If I understand correctly, you define creativity as: a moment or time when the student uses his/her imagination.

    And you see it as something that students possess at different levels.

    I'm guessing then, as a total definition, that you see creativity as a student's ability to use his/her imagination--an ability that differs in degree, depending on the student.

    Am I on the right track? : )

    (Yes, love the Sir Ken talk!)