Podcast #70

Cornell psychologist Robert Sternberg has done seminal work on creativity, wisdom, and cognitive styles. He cares deeply about higher education and teaching, and in this episode we focus on the role of creativity in the classroom. We talk about the importance of creativity in today’s labor market, how to measure creativity, and how students are motivated to learn when they are given an opportunity to be creative.

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Show Notes

0:00 Intro

0:35 Introducing Robert Sternberg. Why teach creativity?

4:38 Teaching creativity in the classroom–and leadership, for instance.

7:14 Creativity can’t be added, say, to the teaching of science later. Science is creative: hypothesis-generation.

9:52 Creativity better predicts college success than intelligence. How Dr. Sternberg’s test works and its reliability.

14:37 How scientists find interesting problems. Designing tests for creativity that doesn’t show up on SAT scores. Implications for college admissions.

20:05 How answers can be rated for creativity. Why such systems can’t be gamed, for instance, by parents.

23:45 Why test for creativity? Everything is modifiable. But creativity may help students ‘invest’ in learning.

25:55 Creativity as an attitude towards life: defying the crowd. A time Robert sold himself out. Making the world a better place.

28:27 Other attitudes that support creativity. Members of Robert’s Stanford Ph.D. cohort who succeeded–and what they had in common.

30:43 Science isn’t certain: it will always be replaced and improved. How science moves forward. Moving past standard intelligence measures. Not all students want to be challenged.

34:53 Helping students improve their creativity. Modeling drawing on life experiences. Why Robert barely passed Intro Psych.

37:18 How Robert almost left psychology. Teaching accepted knowledge vs. how knowledge was created. The evolution of ideas in science: it’s not about memorizing facts. Asking students to have their own answers: in class and on tests. Going beyond what’s in the book. The importance of social interaction: group projects, for instance. After college, collaboration is the norm.

41:33 Robert’s biggest early mistakes: rewarding students who learn in the way that you do. The importance of helping people balance their strengths and weaknesses.

45:45 Students learn best when you teach in ways that maximize their strengths some of the time.

49:30 Robert’s suggestions for reading:

50:44 On being busy and what’s important.