Posts tagged school

Posted 2 years ago

Is your child an Innovator?


“There is no competitive advantage today to knowing more than the person sitting next to you.” — Tony Wagner

By C. M. Rubin with Harry Rubin and Michael Freeborn

How do you train an Innovator?

We are born curious. We are born with imagination. The first challenge is to ensure that these very human qualities are not schooled out of us, as Sir Ken Robinson says. Beyond that, in my research, I identified five essential education and parenting practices that develop young people’s capacities to innovate:

1. Learning to work collaboratively (innovation is a team sport!).

2. Learning to understand problems from a multi-disciplinary perspective.

3. Learning to take risks and learn from mistakes.

4. Focusing on creating versus consuming.

5. Reinforcing the intrinsic motivations of play, passion, and purpose versus the extrinsic carrots and sticks.

Posted 2 years ago

Are you Facebook friends with your students? Should you be?

This re-blog asks the question of whether we should be “friending” our students in social media platforms, such as Facebook or Twitter.

This begs a really controversial and ambiguous question that most instructors ask themselves. I know many teachers who are friends with their students, without any seeming fallout from “two worlds colliding.” However, I also know many teachers who are adamantly opposed to “friending” students on Facebook or Twitter, because they fear and are skeptical of the intersection of the academic and personal worlds, for many different reasons. Where do you stand? Do you friend/follow, and why? Or why not?

Posted 3 years ago

Creative Campus Innovations Grant Awarded to ACP and RAUL

February 28, 2011 – A quick google search of “creativity crisis” yields over 9.5 millions hits. Most articles and cited research point to a recent Newsweek article titled “The Creativity Crisis” that has garnered a lot of interest in the education world (Newsweek, The Creativity Crisis, July 2010, Identifying a “crisis” may be the easiest part of this issue, though;  getting students to think creatively and explore the creative process – especially for students who expect an extrinsic motivator to perform, or are there simply to fulfill a degree requirement – is much more difficult.

How exactly does an educator foster a learning environment that kick starts a student’s creative juices, and how can we  create courses that  inspire creativity in a diverse body of students?  Can we create a course that stimulates deep learning by arousing creativity?

The Office of Arts & Cultural Programming (ACP) and the Research Academy for University Learning (RAUL) at Montclair State University (MSU), are intrigued by the question of artistic creativity, and how it can be integrated into myriad disciplines to ignite ingenuity, innovation and critical thinking. They have secured the highly competitive Creative Campus Innovations Grant, awarded by the Association of Performing Arts Presenters (APAP) and funded by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. The purpose of the grant is to “identify, support, and document cross-campus collaborations that integrate the performing arts and work of performing arts presenters into the academy and the community.” During this academic year and the next, the grant will facilitate the participation of visual/theater artist Robert Whitman, artists from the UK-based company Wayne McGregor|Random Dance, and iconic American director Robert Wilson.

To answer the questions that generated the grant proposal and to meet the requirements of the two-year grant, the ACP and RAUL have formed a team of eight MSU faculty members to create a multi-disciplinary course on creativity, based on the famous course developed by renowned artist and educator Paul Baker ( ) that produced many creative people in a wide variety of fields. Using Baker’s methods laid out in his book, “The Integration of Abilities: Ideas for Creative Growth” (Anchorage Press, 1977), the team will work closely with visiting artists and collaborate extensively on course creation that inspires creativity and celebrates the creative process in the classroom.

Work on the course began in September 2010, and has involved regular team meetings and several work sessions with visiting artists. For example, in October the committee met with Scott deLahunta, Director of R-Research at Wayne McGregor|Random Dance ( and Liz Lerman, Artistic Director of Liz Lerman Dance Exchange (

DeLahunta returned to the MSU campus in February, with other members of Random Dance, to conduct workshops with students and meet with the committee. Additionally, he and members of the company will participate in a symposium on creative thinking called Brainstorm, scheduled for April 12, 2011. Brainstorm will feature a public conversation with artists such as Robert Whitman and choreographer Elizabeth Streb, discussing the role of creative thinking in their own work (please check the ACP website for emerging details on this event).

Liz Lerman Dance Exchange will perform The Matter of Origins March 24-27, 2011 (, and the committee members have been invited to participate as “provocateurs,” who lead small-group discussions in the second act of the piece.

Recently, the committee also met with Jeroen Olyslaegers, playwright and author, who wrote the text for Jan Fabre | Troubleyn’s Prometheus-Landscape II. Many exciting and productive threads came out of the conversation, which ranged from the nature of Jeroen’s collaboration with Fabre, to Fabre’s creative laboratory process, to Jeroen’s own background and influences, and the ways in which these processes and values might be translated into the course. One particular thread that translated across disciplines was the question of intuition: its importance in the creative process, how to foster it, how to privilege intuition over rational thinking in a way that produces creativity; yet also to be able to examine the product of one’s intuitions and look at them critically.

MSU faculty members include Jerry Fails , Computer Science; Harry Haines, Chairperson, Communication Studies; Mika Munakata , Mathematical Sciences; Tiger Roholt, Philosophy and Religion; Debbie Saivetz , Theatre and Dance; Marissa Silverman , Cali School of Music; Ashwin Vaidya , Mathematical Sciences/Physics; and Yawei Wang , Marketing. Jedediah Wheeler, Executive Director of the ACP, Carrie Urbanic, Community Engagement Director, and Ken Bain, Vice Provost for University Learning and Director of RAUL, round out the committee.

The work-to-date – collaboration with the artists, team discussions, and a course outline – will be presented by several members of the committee on May 4, 2011, at the RAUL-sponsored University Teaching and Learning Showcase. Key formative evaluation will take place to mark the progress of the collaboration and identify continuing steps in developing a Promising Syllabus, a fully developed course outline and evaluative processes. For more information, visit:

The virtual Creative Research Center of Montclair State University will support the University Teaching and Learning Showcase through active involvement in the day’s activities. Dr. Neil Baldwin, the CRC director, will serve as the on-site commentator/blogger/rapporteur.


Posted 3 years ago

The Creativity Push

Recently, creativity in the classroom - how to teach it, why it’s not there, why we need it - has been making some education news headlines (see my next post for links to a Newsweek article on the Creativity Crisis). Since the Newsweek article came out last year, many researchers and educators have posed the question in articles and studies, how can we get more creativity in the classroom? Is this theme gaining ground in the academic world? Or is the new push for creative thinking, and teaching creatively, just the latest trend in education? Would love to have some shared thoughts on this topic!

Posted 3 years ago

Ah, Monday…

I’ve often wondered why, if our education system is in such “crisis”, and has been for over 20 years, no one ever looks back and says, “here’s where it went wrong.” We introduce new legislation, we mandate this and that, we test, test, test…all to no avail as we are continuing to spiral down in student performance (according to NAEP and PISA numbers. See: National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP)—also known as “The Nation’s Report Card”—and U.S. participation in international assessments, including the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS), and the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS),

So when was education right? At what time, and in what way, did we produce students who learned, who compared favorably with other countries, who went on to create, innovate, and grow academically and intellectually? There must have been a place in time when our teachers weren’t to blame for a student who wasn’t learning, when remedial education was the exception, not the rule, and when teachers were revered and respected and parents honored their work by supporting it at home - not undermining and questioning every bit of homework and quiz score.

When I was a student, my mother assumed I was the problem if I got in trouble (as a high school history teacher, I have been accused of singling out students, picking on them, harboring a personal vendetta against, not understanding their child’s emotional problems, ADHD, not being sensitive to football practice, etc. etc. all by parents of students 16 years of age or older), and my parents certainly did not expect my teachers to spend most of their day acting as disciplinarians. I was made to do homework without question, grounded for grades below a B, and expected to act respectfully and courteously at school. I didn’t have a cell phone that had to be confiscated, or iPod, iPad, iPhone. I wasn’t texting, googling, tweeting, facebooking, or tumblring. If my grades were good (and my attitude) I was able to talk on the phone (yes, the single phone) with my friends for about one hour every evening. I went to bed at 8:00pm, 9:00pm in the summer.

But it’s not that I don’t understand that technology has evolved, and who I was as a student is not who students are now. I’m not impervious to the march of progress and generational gaps. But I can’t recall that my education was in crisis (this year marks my 20th high school reunion), and I don’t remember how it got to the critical stage it is in now. I remember taking Latin, French, Algebra, Geometry, Calculus, English Composition, Biology, Physics, American History, Civics, because I had to.

Now, I’m lucky if my students can complete a written sentence without using texting vernacular - yes, even my “A” students! I heard a rumor that some schools don’t even require the learning of cursive anymore. What? You mean my second and third grade years were a waste of time? That I could have told Mrs. Jackson that penmanship would not matter in about 20 years?

All I know is, with all the statistics, reports, laws, studies and media coverage, surely someone along the way has asked, when did things change? When was education in the United States solid and stable? What did we do then that was right, students were learning, were engaged, were motivated? Why, specifically, are they under-performing now? Has anyone asked these questions? Or, do we already know, but are afraid of the answers?