Nurturing Creativity in the Classroom
reviewed by Nadine M. Kalin & Kate Wurtzel - March 08, 2018
Title: Nurturing Creativity in the Classroom
Author(s): Ronald A. Beghetto & James C. Kaufman (Eds.)
Publisher: Cambridge University Press, New York
ISBN: 110750130X, Pages: 405, Year: 2016
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Nurturing Creativity in the Classroom, edited by Ronald A. Beghetto and James C. Kaufman, is the second edition of this volume from the Current Perspectives in Social and Behavioral Sciences series published by Cambridge University Press. The authors, both educational psychologists specializing in creativity, are not dissuaded by claims that schooling kills creativity or that creativity is the exclusive concern of arts education. Instead, the book proposes strategies based in practice and research that enhance creativity in current schooling contexts across subject areas. The following paragraphs provide a descriptive overview of the book as well as an analysis of its content and tenants. In this short review, one cannot do justice to the many authors included in the compilation; instead, we capture major themes across chapters while providing a critical analysis.
The book is broken down into two parts; the first highlights narratives from the field and the larger, second section provides research examples and summaries. Both parts are equally readable with practical suggestions intended to imbue teaching across multiple subject areas with current understandings of creativity. To facilitate comprehension, entries consistently provide previews and reviews summarizing content. While the authors point to the changing nature of creativity across the globe (as referenced in international policy and PISA exam results), the book offers a largely American perspective on creativity. Nurturing Creativity in the Classroom proposes research-based tools that all educators can integrate into their teaching and use to shift their perspectives.
Part One presents classroom voices from the field where practice-based concerns surrounding creativity are addressed. While this section is the shorter of the two parts of the book, these opening chapters focus on how and when a shift in creativity related to education may occur. The authors highlight learning experiences that move away from traditional classroom layouts, textbooks, and even teacher-centered methods towards alternative and experiential approaches centered on real-world problem solving and targeting topics of personal relevance to students.
Part Two describes social science research examples from educational psychology along with recommended areas for additional inquiry related to creativity and education. The authors all respond to current challenges teachers face trying to integrate creativity into their practices by offering concrete ideas, tips, and models aimed at keeping students engaged in creative activities. In addition, there is a continuous acknowledgment throughout the chapters that teachers first need to have in-depth knowledge of their subject matter before effectively integrating creativity. This highlights an underlying premise of the book that creativity is not meant to be treated as a subject area of its own, but rather that creativity as a disposition is facilitated in conjunction with existing subject areas. To enhance creativity, the authors suggest that teachers embed creativity into their practices using subtle changes, such as shifting the classroom environment to be more open. The authors also suggest integrating creativity across educational levels and subject areas, including preservice teacher education. Beyond the practical suggestions, the essays in this section strongly encourage teachers to bring their own creativity into teaching, even in the midst of ever-increasing demands for more standardized curriculum and outcomes within schooling contexts. In order to achieve these changes, another theme apparent across Part Two is the destabilization of longstanding myths surrounding creativity, like that creativity isnt teachable or assessable, through the sharing of research and practical applications.
The chapters in this volume transition well from one to the next with the content in each chapter leading the reader through specific insights related to creativity. For example, in Chapter Fourteen, Plucker and Dow address the need to expand current thinking about creativity, starting with the need for teachers to reflect on their beliefs. This disruption of traditional notions related to creativity provides a thread throughout the book that is subtly picked up in other chapters, such as in Karwowski and Jankowskas chapter concerning differing modes of creativity. Additional through lines apparent across the chapters include the relationship between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation and creativity, as well as the need for teachers to look at how they praise certain actions, such as promptness, while all but ignore other activities that dont adhere to traditional characteristics of creativity. Overall, the chapters propose ways to work within an already established system of schooling while building off of recent findings in educational psychology. The limits of schooling that are often blamed for the decline in creativity are instead cast as enabling constraints with many fresh approaches and mindsets yet to be explored. By and large, the volume offers a hopeful cornucopia of ways to transform creativity in education, all based on solid research and described from compelling points of view.
As a second edition, Nurturing Creativity in the Classroom lays out an appealing update to the possibilities for enhancing creativity in education today by translating research findings into convincing tools for all educators. Undergirding the broad topics addressed across the 20 chapters is the aim to demystify creativity. Creativity is a key factor in economic growth, entrepreneurialism, and post-Fordist labor. As the aura of creative genius traditionally attached to artists is being replaced by an understanding of creativity as it relates to entrepreneurs and innovative workers, business leaders increasingly identify creativity as the most desired characteristic for employees.
Creativity is without a doubt an incredibly important area worthy of consideration. That stated, many in education find creativity elusive; a disposition which is difficult to learn and assess across disciplines. In effect, the book wrestles creativity away from its purely artistic connotation by providing expanded definitions and easily transferable skill sets for educators to embrace. The broad array of perspectives from existing research related to creativity are effectively harnessed and synthesized into practical applications for practitioners consideration and use. The message relayed is that creativity is no longer shrouded in mystery; instead, it is available to and expected of all.