From the Field

The Creative Mind

Creative people tend to approach the world in a fresh and original way that is not shaped by preconceptions. The obvious order and rules that are so evident to less creative people, and which give a comfortable structure to life, often are not perceived by the creative individual…. This openness to new experience often permits creative people to observe things that others cannot, because they do not wear the blinders of conventionality when they look around them. Openness is accompanied by tolerance for ambiguity… They enjoy living in a world that is filled with unanswered questions and blurry boundaries.

Creative people enjoy adventure.  They like to explore.  As they explore, they may push the limits of social conventions. They dislike externally imposed rules, seemingly driven by their own set of rules derived from within. This lack of commonality with the rest of the world may produce feelings of alienation or loneliness. In addition, the lack of evident and obvious standards of perception or information may produce a blurring of the boundaries of identity or self….

Nevertheless, creative people also have traits that make them durable and persistent…. Persistence is absolutely fundamental, since creative people typically experience repeated rejection because of their tendency to push the limits and to perceive things in a new way.

… Creative people also tend to be intensely curious. They like to understand how and why, to take things apart and put them back together again, to move into domains of the mind or spirit that conventional society perceives as hidden or forbidden. Creative people are also often perfectionistic and even obsessional….

These traits tend to be combined with a basic simplicity, defined by a singleness of vision and dedication to their work. In fact, much of the time, their work is really all that creative people care about.

— Nancy C. Andreasen, Andrew H. Woods Chair of Psychiatry, Director of the Iowa Neuroimaging Consortium, Professor of Psychiatry. The Creating Brain: The Neuroscience of Genius. Dana Press, 2005. (Used with permission from the author.)


From the Archives

The Engagement Gap

Making Each School and Every Classroom an All-Engaging Learning Environment
A Report on the Spring 2016 ASCD Whole Child Symposium

Significant time, attention, and resources have been directed toward closing the persistent achievement gap in our K–12 public education system. The same, however, cannot be said about solving the “engagement gap.” Because achievement is unlikely to improve if students are not engaged in their education, finding ways to close the engagement gap is an essential goal to ensure that high school seniors graduate well prepared for the rigors of college and careers—and become well rounded, successful, contributing members of society.

But what exactly is the “engagement gap,” why is it important, and what have education professionals learned about what works in narrowing or eliminating it?

In May 2016, ASCD convened a Whole Child Symposium that brought together education experts with deep knowledge of research, school administration, classroom teaching, and professional development to answer these questions. These educators led a conversation about how each school and every classroom can become an all-engaging learning environment.

The symposium, the fourth in a series, provides a forum for education professionals to discuss today’s pressing education issues. These symposia aim to elicit varied viewpoints and recommend actions that each of us, regardless of our areas of influence, can take to improve education systems, processes, and outcomes.

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