Flexibility and creativity

Sternberg again…

“Flexibility is valuable in almost any aspect of life – in school, on the job, in intimate relations with other people, and even in dealing with oneself. Just think of how much more effective teachers could be if they accommodated themselves to the varied styles of thinking in their classrooms, or how easy it would be to work for people who allowed us to be ourselves and to get our work done in ways that are effective for us, or how enjoyable it would be to be in a relationship with someone who fully appreciated us for ourselves – for our own likes and dislikes – rather than for what they would like us to be. The advantages of flexibility are so overwhelming that one wonders why we don’t emphasize it much more than we do in our teaching of our children, our students, and our employees.” (p.86)

One thing we absolutely need to recognize is that what we say is far less important than what we do. If we want our children or students or employees to express themselves creatively, then we have to give them the opportunity to do so. It doesn’t matter much if we tell them that we value their creative thinking, and then criticize or forestall every idea they propose.” (p.87)

“Ultimately, you must encourage creative thinking by modeling it. It is hard to encourage creative thinking if you do not model it.
You also encourage [different thinking] styles by giving people (children, students, employees, whomever) opportunities to work in those styles. It is for this reason that I vary the kinds of assignments I give students. If I want them to develop flexibility, then I have to give them the opportunity to [-p.88] learn and think flexibly in my courses. If I always lecture, or always give multiple-choice tests, I am basically encouraging one small set of styles over all others.” (pp.87-88)

“…many people change with age in their styles of thinking. Styles, like abilities, are fluid rather than fixed, and dynamic rather than static entities. Contrary to the impression I had when I was 21, development does not stop on or about the day you attain majority age. Rather, it is an ongoing process throughout one’s life span, and the modes of thinking with which one is so comfortable in one’s youth often seem foreign and strange years later.” (p.89)

“For the most part, people acquire their styles through socialization. But it is also possible to teach styles.
One way to teach styles is by giving children or students tasks that require them to utilize the styles you want to develop. That’s why I give my own students a wide variety of instructional activities – lectures, in-class discussions, small-group exercises, exams, papers, homework assignments, and the like. The more that people use a particular style, the more comfortable they become with its use.
Another way to teach styles is by teaching the theory in this book (or another theory, if you prefer!). When students learn directly about styles, they come to realize that they have more options than they may have thought, and moreover, that because someone thinks in a way that is different from the way they think, it does not mean that the person thinks more poorly (or better). Many students gain a sense of self-efficacy when they learn about styles, because they realize that there is nothing wrong with the way they think. What is important is to make the most of it.” (p.90)

Those who get A’s are not necessarily the best in the career that follows from the course. Throughout the life span, the styles that are required for success at various points of career change.” (p.91)

The activities of the workplace may differ quite a bit from the activities of the school, and often, the abilities required for success in a job are quite different from those required for success in school. But most jobs have in common with secondary school, college, and coloring books the demand that the individual stay within the lines. Not all jobs are this way: for example, creative writer, artist, or even research scientist. It is perhaps no wonder that the best creative writers and artists are often people who did not do particularly well in school.” (p.91)

Ref: (emphases in blue bold, mine; italics in original) Robert J. Sternberg (c1997) Thinking Styles. Cambridge University Press: Cambridge


About backyardbooks

This blog is a kind of electronic storage locker for ideas and quotes that inform my research... literary research into fiction for young adults (with a special focus on New Zealand fiction). Kiwis are producing amazing literature for younger readers, but it isn't getting the academic appreciation it deserves. I hope readers of this blog can make use of the material I gather and share by way of promoting our fiction. Cheers!
This entry was posted in Images of Parent Child and Expert, Standardised Testing, Teaching excellence and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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