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4 TED Talks for Educators Interested in Fostering Creativity

Amy Wilson | January 23, 2014

#Creativity is quite the buzzword in education circles these days, but many of us aren't sure exactly how to encourage it or evaluate it. Creativity is complex. It's not just coming up with great ideas. How do we create the conditions that allow it to flourish? And once it's flourishing, how do we help students harness it productively? These four TED talks provide insights about creativity that help us understand it in all of its complexity. They even provide concrete examples for how to unleash creativity in your students. Tell us about what helps you be creative in your teaching, and what successes you've had encouraging creativity in your students.

1. Tales of Creativity and Play

At the 2008 Serious Play conference, designer Tim Brown talks about the powerful relationship between creative thinking and play. This captivating talk includes lots of examples that you can use in your classroom tomorrow (and one that maybe you shouldn't).

He poses the question, "What impedes creativity?" Fear is one answer. Fear impedes play. But young kids haven't developed habits of fear yet, and they are more open to play. So, what kinds of structured play do designers use? Playful exploration, playful building, and role-play are just a few.

2. Your Elusive Creative Genius

In this inspiring talk, author Elizabeth Gilbert talks about how difficult it was to feel the pressure to write the perfect follow-up to her wildly successful first book, Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India, and Indonesia. She argues that, instead of the rare person being a genius, all of us have a genius.

3. Unleash Your Creativity in a Fab Lab

MIT professor Neil Gershenfeld talks about his Fab Lab -- a low-cost lab that lets people build things they need using digital and analog tools. In this talk, which was recorded in 2007(!), Prof. Gershenfeld proclaims that the digital revolution is over. "We've already won." He was interested, in 2007, in what comes after the digital revolution. Watch this talk to find out.

4. Do Schools Kill Creativity?

In this talk, given in February 2006, Sir Ken Robinson makes an entertaining and profoundly moving case for creating an education system that nurtures (rather than undermines) creativity. His 2009 book, The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything, is a New York Times best-seller, as is the follow-up published in 2013, Finding Your Element: How to Discover Your Talents and Passions and Transform Your Life.