How to Recognise Creative Thinking Abilities within School Students?



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2. Fully Functioning Persons:

Schools are anxious that the children they educate grow into fully functioning persons. This has long been an avowed and widely approved purpose of education. We say that education in a democracy should help individuals fully develop their talents.

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Recently there have been pressures to limit this to intellectual talents. There has been much talk about limiting the school’s concern to the full development of the intellect only.

Even with this limited definition of the goals of education, the abilities involved in creative thinking cannot be ignored. There has been increasing recognition of the fact that traditional measures of intelligence attempt to assess only a few of man’s thinking abilities.

In his early work Binet (1909) recognised clearly this deficiency. It has taken the sustained work of Guilford (1959a) and his associates to communicate effectively the complexity of man’s mental operations.

Certainly we cannot say that one is fully functioning mentally, if the abilities involved in creative thinking remain undeveloped or are paralysed. There are the abilities involved in becoming aware of problems, thinking up possible solutions, and testing them.

3. Educational Achievement:

Almost no one disputes the legitimacy of the school’s concern about educational achievement. Teachers and guidance workers are asked to help under-achievers to make better use of their intellectual resources and to help over-achievers become better ’rounded’ personalities. But, how do you tell who is, an under-or over-achiever?

In my opinion, recent findings concerning the role of the creative thinking abilities in educational achievement call for a revision of these long-used concepts.

We are finding (Getzels and Jackson, 1958; Torrance, 1960c) that the creative thinking abilities contribute importantly to the acquisition of information and various educational skills.

Of course, we have long known that it is natural for man to learn creatively, but we have always thought that it was more economical to teach by authority.

Recent experiments (Moore, 1961; Ornstein, 1961) have shown that apparently many things can be learned creatively more economically than they can by authority, and that some people strongly prefer to learn creatively.

Traditional tests of intelligence are heavily loaded with tasks requiring cognition, memory, and convergent thinking. Such tests have worked rather well in predicting school achievement. When children are taught by authority these are the abilities required.

Recent and ongoing studies, however, show that even traditional subject matter and educational skills can be taught in such a way that the creative thinking abilities are important for their acquisition.

It is of special interest that the children with high IQ’s were rated by their teachers as more desirable, better known or understood, more ambitious, and more hardworking or studious.

In other words, the highly creative child appears to learn as much as the highly intelligent one, at least in some schools, without appearing to work as hard.

Our guess is that these highly creative children are learning and thinking when they appear to be “playing around.”

Their tendency is to learn creatively more effectively than by authority. They may engage in manipulative and/or exploratory activities, many of which are discouraged or even forbidden. They enjoy learning and thinking, and this looks like play rather than work.

4. Vocational Success:

Guidance workers (school personnel doing guidance functions) have traditionally been interested in the vocational success of their clients.

Indeed, the guidance movement got much of its impetus from this concern. Of course, it has long been recognized that creativity is a distinguishing characteristic of outstanding individuals in almost every field.

It has been generally conceded that the possession of high intelligence, special talent, and technical skills is not enough for outstanding success. It has also been recognised that creativity is important in scientific discovery, invention, and the arts.

5. Social Importance:

Finally, educators are legitimately concerned that their students make useful contributions to our society.

Such a concern runs deep in the code of ethics of the profession. It takes little imagination to recognise that the future of our civilization—our very survival— depends upon the quality of the creative imagination of our next generation.

Democracies collapse only when they fail to use intelligent, imaginative methods for solving their problems. Greece failed to heed such a warning by Socrates and gradually collapsed.

What is called for is a far cry from the model of the quiz- programme champion of a few years ago. Instead of trying to cram a lot of facts into the minds of children and make them scientific encyclopedias, we must ask what kind of children they are becoming.

What kind of thinking do they do? How resourceful are they? Are they becoming more responsible? Are they learning to give thoughtful explanations of the things they do and see? Do they believe their own ideas to be of value? Can they share ideas and opinions with others? Do they relate similar experiences together in order to draw conclusions? Do they do some thinking for themselves?

We also need more than well-rounded individuals. We ordinarily respect these well-rounded individuals, broad scholars, and men of many talents.

Dael Wolfle (1960) has made a case for those who develop some of their talents so highly that they cannot be well-rounded.

He argues that it is advantageous to a society to see the greatest achievable diversity of talent among those who constitute the society.

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