Are you a lemon or a grapefruit? – Ten articles about creativity

I am a great fan of creativity.

Imagination and creative thinking are what inspire and drive improvement, innovation and progress.

I affirm my belief in the power of creativity in my header: ‘Create the possibilities . . .’

In this post I share articles and blog posts that discuss creativity. It is not an exhaustive list, just a few to get you started. You will notice that many, but not all, are from Edutopia, a website that is ‘dedicated to improving the K-12 learning process through innovative, replicable, and evidence-based strategies that prepare students to thrive in their studies, careers, and adult lives’; and TED, an organisation of people who ‘believe passionately in the power of ideas to change attitudes, lives and, ultimately, the world.’

  1. In this article on Creativity and education Judy O’Connell says that

‘Every student is creative in some way, and the job of educators is to release and support that creative talent in an appropriate manner.’

She adds that

‘Teaching creatively and for creativity entails taking students on a creative journey where their responses are not predetermined.’

In her article Judy lists some features of teaching for creativity and includes a video of a new school in New Zealand that she suggests fits the criteria. It is quite exciting and worth a look.

  1. In this article shared on Edutopia Do Standards Kill Creativity Claus von Zastrow suggests creative ways of teaching creativity while teaching standards.

Linking of subject areas, as we used to do through ‘themes’ in the old days, or more recently ‘integrated units’, before subjects were divided and each given their own slot in the timetable, was one suggestion.  A number of varied and interesting comments accompany the article.

  1. I have previously shared this TED talk by Sir Ken Robinson on How schools kill creativity here and here. If you have not yet listened to it, please do. As well as sharing a very important message, Ken is a very entertaining speaker. I’m sure you will enjoy it.

4. Following on from that talk is this article by Bruce Price shared on Ken Robinson and the Factory Method of Education. The article shares an animated talk by Ken Changing Education Paradigms.

Bruce does not agree with Ken’s views and warns readers to be sceptical of information imparted by Ken. He says that Ken’s opposition to traditional schooling is unhelpful and argues that, unlike most others referenced here, that creativity cannot be taught.

5. In this article by Deepak Kulkarni Recreational and Educational Value of Math Puzzles shared on Edutopia the suggestion is made that creative problem solving can be taught using maths puzzles.

6. A variety of Techniques for creative teaching are shared on the Iowa State University Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching website which states that

in order to teach creativity, one must teach creatively’.

7. In yet another article shared on Edutopia, Andrew Miller states enthusiastically Yes, You Can Teach and Assess Creativity! Andrew provides suggestions for recognising creativity as well as teaching and assessing it.

8. Also on Edutopia, Diane Darrow talks about Creativity on the Run: 18 Apps that Support the Creative Process.

9. In this rather long TED talk on his life, authenticity vs karaoke culture Malcolm McLaren postulates that ‘we’re living in a karaoke culture, with false promises of instant success, and that messiness and failure are the key to true learning.’ He talks about his own schooling and attitude to creativity.

10. Michael Michalki shared an article on Edutopia regarding what he considers the 7 Tenets of Creative Thinking, including:

Believe you are creative

‘While creative people believe they are creative, those who don’t hold that belief are not.’

Work at it and ‘produce an incredible number of ideas — most of which (may be) bad. He says that

‘more bad poems were written by major poets than by minor poets’.

Go through the motions – ‘Every hour spent activating your mind by generating ideas increases creativity’; visualise what you want and go for it.

On his own website Creative Thinking, Michael Michalko suggests many more ideas for getting you to think creatively.

The header of Michael’s website states that “A grapefruit is a lemon that took a chance.”

lemons and grapefruit

So which are you: a lemon or a grapefruit?

I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts about any aspect of this post and let me know whether you agree or disagree with the value of creativity and if it can be taught.

Thanks for reading.

17 thoughts on “Are you a lemon or a grapefruit? – Ten articles about creativity

  1. Pingback: Apples for the teacher | Norah Colvin

  2. Charli Mills

    I’ve returned to take a juicy bite out of all you’ve packed in this post. Most compelling was Sir Ken’s TEDtalk. I do believe that creativity can be fostered in groups (so why not in a classroom?) and that shared creativity inspires more. Thus the advent of flash fiction on my website was to build a creative environment for writing. It seems that literary communities occur in college and that writers groups focus on critique; I just want to get creative with others who are creative, too! At least that’s how I “learn” creativity. This is a comprehensive list of articles, and from different perspectives. And I’m happily a grapefruit! Thanks for this terrific post on creativity!


    1. Norah Post author

      Thanks Charli. I love Ken’s talk. I have listened to it many times. He is a brilliant speaker as well as writer and educator. You have achieved your goal of building a creative community with your flash fiction challenges and I am really happy to be a part of them – allows for a little variety in my writing and opportunity to practice my skills with writing fiction (as well as writing in general) should I eventually reach that path. I could have included only Ken Robinson’s talk, but always think it’s a good idea to hear the views of others. It expands our understanding and helps to clarify our own thoughts, whether we agree or not. Thanks for coming back and sharing. 🙂


  3. Bec

    A great list, Nor! I like how you presented thinkers who are not in agreement with each other. What a wealth of information. This post could be like Alice’s rabbit hole – many paths to follow from here!


    1. Norah Post author

      Thanks Bec. There’s nothing wrong with exposing yourself to some different thinking is there? It is interesting to see where you agree and disagree with opposing views, and how the views you support for certain reasons are interpreted differently by others. I think listening to a range of views can help clarify our own thinking. Then again, it can just leave us confused! Don’t get lost down that rabbit hole! I need you home in time for tea! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. writersideup

    Wow, Norah! I can’t look at all this now, but am saving it for future perusing. I’m VERY big on creativity (will have a blog up about it some time soon, I hope I love Ken Robinson’s views and although creativity itself can’t be taught (as Bruce states), children CAN be taught how to tap into it and consider it at times in life when they should (which, to me, should be for MOST things!) 🙂


    1. Norah Post author

      Thanks so much for your comment. Glad we share our admiration for Sir Ken’s ideas. I look forward to reading your blog on creativity when you are ready. 🙂


  5. Annecdotist

    There’s a wealth of information here, Norah, which I hope to come back to when I have more time. I can remember quite basic psychological tests of creativity such as how many different uses you could come up with for a brick. I don’t think I was very good at this, probably self-censoring around the concept of usefulness.
    The question of whether creativity can be taught perhaps depends on what we think teaching is, and also creativity, I suppose. I think human beings are naturally creative but how much we find ourselves able to use that capacity can depend on how much our creative endeavours have been supported rather than criticised and discouraged from early childhood onwards. If you’re repeatedly told your ideas are wrong, I don’t think it helps you to come up with better ones, just more conforming ideas. The dilemma for educators is in balancing supporting creativity with holding fast to the standard way of doing things, for example, creative spelling can work in some limited circumstances but is generally not a good idea.
    I was going to say I didn’t think creativity could be taught like mathematics, which relies so much on formulae and getting the right answer. Yet once you get beyond boring arithmetic, mathematics is an extremely creative subject as each individual learner has to do go down the path of discovering for themselves the same solutions as the experts have discovered.
    Maybe the real challenge is that at the time that human beings are at potentially their most creative they do need to be taught some quite basic skills of reading, arithmetic, as well as social skills and keeping themselves safe.
    Now I can’t tell whether I’m waffling or not but thanks for the space to do this.
    BTW, when I saw your title I thought you were quick off the starting blocks with your fruity flash for Charli’s challenge – perhaps you’re going to find a story about the lemon and the grapefruit?


    1. Norah Post author

      Thanks Anne – you never waffle, unless you do the dessert kind. I really appreciate the thoughtfulness you give to all of your responses.
      I was a bit amused at myself writing about fruit when Charlie had set that as the prompt as well, but that would have been a bit quick for me. I do have an idea but am not sure how I will go for time. Time seems to be in the retraction rather than expansion phase for me at the moment. I spent the few hours I had today writing. Now it’s bedtime and I haven’t started reading!
      I agree with what you say about the demands for learning basic skills when natural creativity is high. I think the challenge for teachers is ensuring that there is a balance. I had always found it quite a juggling act but making time for my own creativity and that of the children was always important and what gave the greatest pleasure.
      I found it very exciting to read about, and listen to, some of the wonderful things that are happening. I would love to be joining them.
      I agree with what you say about mathematics. I have grown to love it since leaving school and enjoy teaching it to young children (certainly couldn’t do that for older students!)
      Thanks for enriching my blog. 🙂


      1. Paula Reed Nancarrow

        I don’t have any links to add to your good ones, but two books have been important to me in thinking about creativity – John Diado Loori’s The Zen of Creativity and Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. (I understand his first book, Flow, is more pivotal, but my son gave me the latter and so I’ve read that first.). And of course there’s Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way. All of these are books focusing on adult creative practice, but I’ve always believed creativity is innate, as is intelligence, and it’s the job of the teacher to create (there’s that word again) a nurturing environment for same.


        1. Norah Post author

          Thanks for sharing those titles, Paula. I am not familiar with any. Will have to check them out. I agree with your recognition of the need for the teacher to create a nurturing (including of creativity) environment. 🙂



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