Parent Partnerships in Creativity

The word “creativity,” in our society, tends to be applied to artistic endeavours. However, creativity is linked to divergent thinking skills and those are an essential part of everyday life, whether it’s navigating office politics or devising a new curriculum. Our job as parents and teachers is to help kids fulfill it.

Whether that potential is being fulfilled is another story entirely. Researchers have spent the past few decades poring over the creativity scores of students. They have found that Creativity scores have significantly decreased since 1990. Moreover, creativity scores for primary students including kindergarteners were at an all time low.

The scores are generated by the Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking — the standard in assessing creativity since the 1960s. The tests consist of open-ended questions, such as “How many uses can you think of for a toothbrush?” Scores are awarded based on the number and originality of the ideas produced. A creative child might respond by saying that he can brush his cat’s teeth, polish a rock, and clean his fingernails — all answers that show dexterity in generating a wide range of potentially useful ideas.

This unique ability is one that will be crucial to the workforce of the future. Children today face a universe of rapidly evolving technology, an ever-shifting global economy, and far-reaching health and environmental challenges — scenarios that will require plenty of creative thinking. Tony Wagner cites imagination as one of the top needed survival skills for the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

So how do we make sure our kids are thinking divergently and creatively? Well, to start we give them plenty of opportunities to do so.

Cardboard Challenge

As creativity is the most important skill of the future, the Cardboard Challenge is one powerful tool to foster it through playful learning.

The Cardboard Challenge brings the world together around the value of creativity. It’s a worldwide celebration of the genius of every child and the simple things adults can do to foster it. Launched from the overwhelming global response to the short film, “Caine’s Arcade,” the Cardboard Challenge works to foster creativity in children around the world to raise a new generation of innovators and problem solvers who have the tools they need to build the world they imagine.

Level 5 envisions a world in which creativity is a core social value. The Cardboard Challenge is an opportunity for the community to come together to make their very best ideas happen with limited resources and tools.

The power of limitations

In art school, Phil Hansen developed an unruly tremor in his hand that kept him from creating the pointillist drawings he loved. Hansen was devastated, floating without a sense of purpose. Until a neurologist made a simple suggestion: embrace the limitation.

At Level 5 we also think that the Cardboard Challenge is a forced limitation on children that provokes a scenario where they must think divergently to create an object. Working with parents within school boundaries provides opportunities for four main things to happen:

· Children are able to see parents model design thinking in order to; plan, make, test, play with, and redesign a product (even if they don’t know that’s what they are doing).

· Children are able to fail in a safe environment and work through the frustrations of not being able to do something on the first go.

· Children are able to build stronger bonds with parents over the process of creation rather than an academic focus on product, or outcomes. This in turn builds trust, reciprocal understanding, and closer family units.

· Children are able to see that teachers and parents work together to help them actualize their ideas. This home/school connection has been shown to be one of the cornerstones of building life-long success in student learning.

This Sunday Level 5 hosted the Cardboard Challenge for the community. It was a fun filled day! At the end of the day one parent asked if the finished work would be judged, and I said, nope — not here. This is about the process of learning together, the time you spent with your child that they will never forget, and the creative skills they developed by watching you work with them to create something amazing!

Watch the two and half minute video of highlights from our Cardboard Challenge:

How does your community build parent partnerships in creativity? Tell us about it!

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