Saturday, September 15, 2018

Clark Fralick: Conditions for Creativity in K-12 Classrooms

Clark Fralick is a voracious reader. He is fueled by a passion for understanding and promoting children's authentic learning experience. Clark and I have been team-teaching in one form or another since 1997. We have had countless discussions and collaborations, including our 1998, '99, '01 participation with the Indiana Department of Education's electronic portfolio pilot programs. Authentic creativity was the Holy Grail we were searching for. We were pretty good at facilitating project based learning and also good at designing rubrics with students in order to get the snappy projects we were after.  

One day in 2001, a child brought in his personal drawings and Clark and I asked him to write about his work. The results were dramatic. There was a vitality to the reflective writing from the boy's home art that was lacking in the reflective writing we obtained during our rubric driven experiences. We knew there was something amiss in our curriculum but we didn't quite know how to address change.

After our visit with Katherine Douglas, Diane Jaquith and John Crowe in Denver of 2004, we knew we had to feature agency, diversified learning, security, stimulation and inspiration to our curriculum. Here are the conditions for creativity we believe are beneficial to children's creative learning experience.

1. A responsive, generative art teacher managing a safe and stimulating learning environment is critical when considering creativity development. The child has to know tolerance of idiosyncratic creative processes will be accepted unconditionally including provisions of space and time. The incubation process varies between students.

2. Art teacher provides consistent opportunities over time where agency and self-direction is featured.
Interaction with art teacher is rich and ongoing. Interventions are non-threatening. Children cannot develop a sense of their intentionality without extended non-threatening interactions with these creative care-givers. A sense of trust and nurturing is essential.

3. Environment allows the child to progress through their unique developmental stages within the biological timeline endowed to them. Respect for the individual is paramount.

4. Environment is rich with opportunities for experimentation and exploration. Programs that advertise autonomy yet encourage passivity and helplessness by removing decision making from the individual's hands will have negligible impact.

5. Structure and clear parameters within the environment imbue a sense of security to the child. Firm yet reasonable limits within an environment of support, empathy and warmth are crucial.

6. Stable communities and neighborhoods are critical in allowing the child to focus on their creative and intellectual desires and interests outside of the art program.

7. An inspirational teacher who models creativity and artistic behavior, understands the unique cognitive conditions of his/her student groups and understands the developmental and psycho-emotional rhythms of his/her students.

Conditions for Creativity adopted from Stanley Greenspan's, "The Growth of the Mind: The Endangered Origins of Intelligence" 1997.

During the summer of 2017, Clark suggested we record a podcast so we could elaborate on
the conditions for creativity and critical findings related to our TAB practice.

You can listen to our podcast on iTunes or Podbean:

Clark and I will be working with cardboard at the Indiana State Museum over the 2018-19 school year. TAB Teachers interested in working with us can contact us here: