Brain Research, Creativity

Are You Creative?


I just read a really interesting article on creativity.

The well-known known illusion above can be seen in two ways: as both a duck and a rabbit. Which do you see first? And if you see one, can you also see the other?

Most people see the duck first and can flip between the two representations, but the question is: how easy is it for you to flip between them? Does it require real mental strain, or can you do it at will?

The article suggests that the ability to see both the rabbit and the duck and to flip easily between the two is an indicator that you are more likely to be creative in your thinking. To test this idea, researchers gave participants a limited time period to come up with novel uses for everyday objects: a chair, a brick, a paperclip. Those who could see both animals in the illustration could come up with five novel uses for an object.  Those who couldn’t, could come up with two.

While I am now incredibly curious to try this with my kids, I am also left thinking:

  • would kids have an easier time of thinking with greater flexibility than adults?
  • how do we grow our ability to look at problems from creative perspectives?
  • is this inherent or learned behavior?

As I was thinking about this, I was also thinking about a creative solution to a real world problem that my friend’s fifth grade class encountered. Some may say that picketing and boycotting and protesting are not creative solutions, but when you are in fifth grade and the people you are standing up to are tenth graders from your school, I would say it was not only a creative way to express their point of view, but a very brave one too. Check out their story – it is a fascinating read.

As teachers, we need to be prepared to flip the duck (or rabbit) and challenge ourselves to see things differently: our kids, our curriculum, the assignments we give out, the expectations we have of our kids.

Equally, it is probably a good idea to ask the same of our parents.  School as we knew it shouldn’t be the same as school today. At least, not a school I want to be a teacher at.  Many parents are more than receptive to this, if we share our why with them: why we are making changes, why school is different, why we are pushing something new.  One of my blog posts on this subject was recently reposted on the IBO Sharing PYP Practice blog. To me it was reassuring to hear the feedback from parents: once our reasoning was explained to them, they were more than receptive to the change.

Sometimes it is really hard to change our focus from the rabbit (or the duck) but that doesn’t mean we should stop looking or stop challenging ourselves to look at things from a more creative perspective.If you are ready to take the challenge, here are some cool tips to rid yourself of excuses for you lack of creativity (this is going up in my classroom tomorrow!):




I ask you again: Are you creative?