Creativity and NCLB

Oxymoronic, don’t you think? Standards-based education derived from NCLB means that there is little time for creative problem-solving in most American classrooms today. But here I am asking public school educators and parents who have found my blog to take part in some creative problem-solving. Perhaps by working together we can arrive at solutions that are more effective –and with fewer downsides — than the NCLB mandates. If only such a process had been followed before NCLB was authorized in 2001!

Newsweek, in its July 19, 2010 issue, had a wonderful cover story entitled Creativity in America.” Reading it, we are reminded  why creativity and problem solving are vital for the dynamic future growth of our nation. In 1958,Professor Paul Torrance analyzed 400 Minneapolis children’s creativity  and then began to follow them over the next 50 years. Every accomplishment of these young students has been tracked and noted. The data from these reports has recently been analyzed by Jonathan Plucker from Indiana University. According to Newsweek, “The correlation to lifetime creative accomplishment was more than three times stronger for childhood creativity than childhood IQ.” Therefore, it is alarming to read that Kyung Hee Kim at the College of William & Mary reports that since 1990 creativity scores in America’s young children have been steadily declining! (links to more about creativity)

If you continue reading deep into the Newsweek article, you will come to Dr. Donald Treffinger’s Model for Creative Problem Solving. Reading the Newsweek article inspired me to attempt to use the model on this blog.

Below is Dr. Treffinger’s model for creative problem-solving.

    1. Fact-Finding
    2. Problem-Finding
    3. Idea-Finding
    4. Solution-Finding
    5. Developing a Plan of Action

Although this blog was created so that you, who are in the trenches, can provide many facts and true stories about the effects of NCLB, many facts  are already available. Here are links to NCLB, Race to the Top, Common Core Standards, and more government documents. [I am in the process  of updating and providing new links to additional documents.] A link can also be found on the sidebar.  I would like to thank Education Week in particular for its efforts in making this kind of  information so readily available.

So what exactly am I asking you to do? Educators have been living with school reform for the last fifteen years. Leave your comments about your experiences  in the section, In the Trenches. I predict that as you do most of you will find yourselves in both the Fact-Finding AND the Problem-Finding modes. Don’t worry what stage you’re in. Just record your experiences. If you live outside Arizona, each state has arrived at its own methods of complying with federal reform. As an educator from your particular state, you have valuable input about 1) the positive and negative outcomes of NCLB and 2) the unintended consequences that may be negative or positive. When you read a particular post that resonates with you, please enter your comments about your own first-hand experiences or experiences of other educators who you know to be credible. If you live in Arizona, you may post your comments in response to any of my posts– or select your Arizona county on  the map and share your thoughts and experiences with the rest of us.

I will stay on top of the comments and bundle them together under categories as I see trends developing and post them for you to see.

Eventually, I will supply a page for Idea Finding and one for Solution Finding. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves at this point.

Almost every page and post on this website should have a link where you can leave your comments. The heart of this blog will be your comments, not my posts. Come back again and again. We — meaning those public school educators, parents, and school board members who live and work in the trenches — need your insight. Spread the word and  get others to visit and leave comments. The more information we have, the more convincing we will be.


{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 dezool
October 10, 2010 at 9:08 am

NCLB had many unintended consequences and flaws and needs to be the critical focus of teachers, parents, media etc. . I believe it is the source of many issues now facing us and driving the negative blame game towards schools and teachers. It attempts to quantify failure and success… but the basic assumption that it is even a valid measurement based on valid tests needs to be evaluated and questioned. We are blaming based on flawed data. The AYP/API system with its % of proficiency ranking is fueling the drama on this flawed data. This then spurs on blame in all the wrong places (teacher’s and unions) because it is now ‘quantified and measured’ . While all this is going on it shifts the focus from where it needs to be, drives people in droves from the field of education and discourages or burns out teachers in the trenches. It also assumes children learn the same way , at the same rate and can be measured the same way…. The real voices that should be heard are absent in the discussion- another unintended consequence simply because as the scapegoats our voices are not sought, valid or united.


2 barbara
September 30, 2010 at 4:46 pm

A major problem with all of these initiatives is the lack of teacher voice and participation. Teachers need to be included at the table – we are the experts.


3 theschoolprincipal
September 30, 2010 at 5:42 pm

You’re exactly right. Your very point is the reason that I started this website and called it “in the trenches.” Teachers know what’s going on. They know what works in the classroom. In my experience, when teachers think that the kids in the next classroom are not getting a good education, they won’t put up with it. Teachers care more than just about anybody. This last week has put me over the top — Oprah, Waiting for Superman, and Education Nation. I posted a comment on Facebook under Teachers’ Letters to Obama. I have gotten a couple of e-mails since then. There is going to be a webring on Monday where teachers will be talking to one another. I couldn’t make the link work, but when it gets resent, I will post it under Blog along with my comments on Facebook, which were all around the theme of “teachers and educators ‘in the trenches’ must find a way to take control of the conversation.” Perhaps you can join the webring. If not, it will apparently be made available a few days later. Check my website for information. Together, we will figure out how to back this train up and send it in another direction.


4 hazelmommy
September 26, 2010 at 7:17 pm

I agree that these laws were created with the best intentions. And one can liken it to ratcheting up the science and math standards when the Russians launched Sputnik. Again, well-intentioned but nonetheless reactionary. So as we went to a nation of protecting self esteem, we created children who performed badly but felt good about themselves–such as when American students took international tests with students from other countries, the Americans were asked how they felt they performed and they said they thought they did okay. Students from other countries, who performed better, were not as confident when they were asked how they felt they performed. So as usual, Americans over-correct a problem. And once again we have come full circle with wanting our students to do well without any strategic planning–just reacting to the current events.


Leave a Comment