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Creativity, One of the Most Important Skills our children will need in the 21st Century.

creativity educational videos


What We Need

“Successfully navigating an increasing complex world will require creativity.” 

That’s the primary conclusion of IBM’s 19th Global C-suite Study from interviews with 1,541 Chief Executive Officers from 60 countries and 33 industries worldwide.

You can appreciate that we could provide many more conclusions from other respected industry and business sources that come to the same conclusion.  And when they say “creativity” what are these studies referring to?  Probably the best place to start is the Harvard Business Review.

Innovators DNA

For six years three legendary researchers interviewed over 3,000 innovative executives to answer the question what traits separate creative visionary people who consistently come up with successful ideas from the less imaginative managerial types who carry them out.

Dr. Clayton M. Christensen, PhD, esteemed Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School where he set a record by achieving the rank of "full" professor in only six years,

Dr. Jeff Dyer, PhD distinguished Professor of Strategy and recently ranked #1 on a list of most impactful management scholars in the world, and

Dr. Hal Gregersen, PhD Winner of the Thinkers 50 2017 Leadership Award were those three researchers. 

The study was published in 2009 and won the Harvard Business Review award.

They found that these creative visionaries had five common characteristics, which they termed “Innovators DNA.”

There’s a common foundation to the first three:

  • The ability to associate creatively
  • Asking the questions of What if? Why not? How come you’re doing it this way?
  • The unquenchable desire to tinker and experiment

 That common foundation? Inquisitiveness.

 In an interview with Harvard Business Review, one of the study’s authors, Dr. Hal Gregersen responded: “If you look at 4-year-olds, they are constantly asking questions and wondering how things work. But by the time they are 6 ½ years old they stop asking questions because they quickly learn that teachers value the right answers more than provocative questions. High school students rarely show inquisitiveness. And by the time they’re grown up and are in corporate settings, they have already had the curiosity drummed out of them.”

“We also believe that the most innovative entrepreneurs were very lucky to have been raised in an atmosphere where inquisitiveness was encouraged. We were stuck by the stories they told about being sustained by people who cared about experimentation and exploration. Sometimes these people were relatives, but sometimes they were neighbors, teachers or other influential adults.”

A number of the innovative entrepreneurs also went to Montessori schools, where they learned to follow their curiosity. To paraphrase the famous Apple ad campaign, innovators not only learned early on to think different, they act different (and even talk different).”

 Isidor Rabi, who received the Nobel Prize in 1944 for his discovery of nuclear magnetic resonance, remarked that his mother fostered his curiosity and creativity. Instead of asking him, "What did you learn at school today?" she asked, "Did you ask any good questions today?"

 So is there a way to measure creativity?  And if there is, how do we rate?

What We Have

“American creativity scores are falling.”

Dr. Ellis Paul Torrance, known as the “Father of Creativity” created the Torrance Test for Creative Thinking that has become recognized as the gold standard of creativity testing.  Dr. Torrance passed away in 2003, but

Dr. Kyung Hee Kim, who studied under Dr. Torrance, has carried on his work.  After analyzing almost 300,000 Torrance scores of children and adults, Dr. Kim found creativity scores had been steadily rising, just like IQ scores, until 1990.

Since then, creativity scores have consistently inched downward. "It's very clear, and the decrease is very significant," Kim says. It is the scores of younger children in America—from kindergarten through sixth grade—for whom the decline is "most serious." 

When Children Follow their Curiosity

Sir Ken Robinson writes:

“Consider that the ability to ask questions and explore how the world works is what has driven human achievement in every field.  The desire to explore, to test and prod, to see what happens, to question how things work, to wonder why and ask watch if? Young children have a ready appetite to explore what ever draws their interest. When their curiosity is engaged they will learn from themselves, from each other or from any source they can lay their hands on.”

 But consider how our educational system is designed, no doubt how you experienced it too: around the belief that children are lazy learners - which becomes a naturally self-fulfilling prophecy as children are treated that way.

 So what do Jeff Bezos (Founder of Amazon),

Larry Page and Sergey Brin (Founders of Google) have in common?  Like much of the science we present here at MindEDU, it’s a program with decades of evidence about its effectiveness, and it’s not commonly known or understood. It’s an early education program founded on allowing children to follow their natural curiosity. 

Maria Montessori founded her first school in 1907.  It has now become the largest pedagogy in the world; Montessori is globally in 110 countries and 22,000 schools.

The essential elements to the Montessori program that leverage children’s curiosity in Maria’s words:

The Montessori teacher

“We must support as much as possible the child’s desires for activity; not wait on him, but educate him to be independent. It is necessary for the teacher to guide the child without letting him feel her presence too much, so that she may always be ready to supply the desired help, but may never be the obstacle between the child and his experience.”

Bing Nursery School

The Bing Nursery School at Stanford, with access to some of the world’s greatest early childhood development researchers just steps away and on the advisory board has mixed-age classrooms. The research in support of this method is so robust and it goes back 50 years.  

Maria Montessori saw it 100 years ago:

 “There are many things which no teacher can convey to a child of three, but a child of five can do it with the utmost ease. To understand what the older ones are doing fills the little ones with enthusiasm. There is a communication and a harmony between the two that one seldom finds between the adult and the small child.”

 Perhaps more “poetically,” in the words of Dr. Lilian Katz, professor emerita of early childhood education at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign:

 "Although humans are not usually born in litters, we seem to insist that they be educated in them.”

 Uninterrupted Work and Student choice of activity

“Left to themselves, the children work ceaselessly; they do not worry about the clock … after long and continuous activity the children’s capacity for work does not appear to diminish, but to improve.”

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