a co-ed, independent, inclusion school for grades k-12


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The Creativity Issue

Dec 16, 2016


At IDEAL, we understand that intelligence is multifaceted. By embracing a versatile and inclusive view of human intellectual capacity, we cultivate an atmosphere of mutual respect in which creativity and collaboration thrive.

For nearly forty years, Howard Gardner, Hobbs Professor of Cognition and Education at Harvard Graduate School of Education, has focused his research on the Theory of Multiple Intelligences. Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences speaks to IDEAL’s mission to “affirm and accept the full identity of all people” and underscores the importance of an educational community where students learn from and honor the strengths and talents of all individuals.

In the early 1980s, Gardner first denounced the belief that “individuals can be rank ordered in terms of our God-given intellect or IQ” (Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences) and proposed that there were many distinct intelligences or “minds” that, together, better encompassed the range of gifts within individuals. The “minds” Gardner has researched include the Musical, Bodily-Kinesthetic, Logical-Mathematical, Linguistic, Spatial, Inter/Intrapersonal, Naturalistic, and Existential Minds. In 5 Minds for the Future, Gardner updated his thinking to include the Disciplined, Synthesizing, Creating, Respectful, and Ethical Minds necessary for 21st century education and leadership.

This issue of Pioneer Press focuses on the “Creating Mind” and how IDEAL cultivates creativity across disciplines in an inclusive setting. Gardner’s view of creativity is an expansive one. He suggests that the creative process occurs when an individual or group is “recognized as innovative and, in turn, sooner or later, exerts a genuine, detectable influence on subsequent work in that domain” (5 Minds). At IDEAL, students and faculty are doing innovative work every day that influences our collective growth.

Visit IDEAL on any given day, and you will find athletes motivating their teammates at the same time as they hone their own skills; novice engineers learning from one another how to write code and program drones; and emerging artists observing and challenging each other to make recycled light fixtures; paint large, abstract works; and design complicated, symbolic cut-out portraits. At a fourth grade publishing party last week, as students talked about their own stories, it quickly became apparent that the group had influenced and prompted one another to incorporate more specific vocabulary, richer plot twists, and more complex characterizations.

Our IDEAL student leaders also demonstrate creativity and influence their peers to contribute in new ways to the life of our school. In the Lower School this fall, fifth graders have stepped into new leadership roles and are discussing how best to implement student-led clubs at 91st Street. For the first time this year, three of our High School students traveled to Atlanta to represent our school in the National Association of Independent School’s Student Diversity Leadership Conference (SDLC). They have returned with new ideas to ensure the growth of our community.

Similarly, the creativity of our faculty is having a transformative impact within our adult learners. IDEAL’s Peace & Light Ceremony, conceived ten years ago by Lower School Art Teacher Tim Lomas, now represents the shared vision of the entire creative arts team. Design projects that began in the Upper School STEAM Lab have sparked the development of Shark Tank projects in English class and interactive timelines in science class.

Derived from honoring multiple intelligences, the creative energy within IDEAL lifts up every voice and, ultimately, prepares our IDEALists to reshape our world into one in which it is common knowledge that we all learn better when we learn together.

For more information on Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences, I recommend starting with Gardner’s books 5 Minds for the Future and Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences. Gardner’s website is also a fantastic and up-to-date resource. On my night table for winter vacation is Gardner’s Truth, Beauty, and Goodness Reframed: Educating for the Virtues in the Age of Truthiness and Twitter.

For those who prefer to engage their Logical-Mathematical and Spatial Minds over break, see the list of robotic-themed holiday gifts curated by Karin Wolff, Director of Academic Technology at IDEAL.

Topics: inclusion, diversity, school, independent school, NYC schools, K-12, education, leadership, academic, excellence, coding

Written by Janet Wolfe