Supporting early childhood professionals worldwide in
their efforts to craft thriving environments for children and adults.
By Roger NeugebauerGo to page: 1 2 3 4 5
"In every mind there are widening regions of creativity if once the spark has been allowed to generate the fire."
– Gardner Murphy
Creativity is a vital ingredient of any successful child care organization. Creativity is needed in the classroom in planning a responsive curriculum, in designing a stimulating environment, and in providing exciting interactions with the children. The management of a center requires creativity in stretching scant resources, in devising fundraising strategies, and in training and motivating staff. A center must be able to respond creatively to changing populations, changing needs, and changing opportunities.
But can a director truly summon forth a flow of creative ideas from the staff? Aren't there a limited number of creative people in the world and if your staff doesn't have one you're out of luck? Management consultant Peter F. Drucker answers that creativity is not in short supply:
"Creativity is not the real problem. There are usually more ideas in any organization than can possibly be put to use. . . . What is lacking is management's willingness to welcome ideas, in fact, solicit them."
Starting with the assumption that creativity is a valuable untapped staff resource, Exchange surveyed current management literature for ideas on how to unleash this resource. The following guidelines on how to promote creativity were extracted from those works listed at the end of this article.
the task to the group.
It serves no purpose to get the creative juices of staff members flowing if they are all working on solutions to the wrong problem. At the outset, therefore, it is vital to discuss the problem to be addressed with staff members so that everyone shares a common view of what the group's task is. If the problem is slumping enrollments, for example, everyoneshould understand that the task is to come up with ideas for recruiting more children. Implicit in this common view is not only a consensus on the specific problem at hand, but also a shared understanding of the overall goals and philosophies of the center.
Provide group members
with rich and varied
experiences to draw upon.
Creativity seldom involves the creation of a totally new idea. In their classic treatise on organizational theory, Organizations, March and Simon acknowledged that "most innovations in an organization are a result of borrowing rather than invention." Put another way, creativity involves combining conventional ideas in unconventional ways.
Staff members are more likely to come up with creative combinations of ideas if they have a large store of ideas to draw upon in the first place. According to Gardner Murphy, the first two stages in the creative process are the "immersion in some specific medium that gives delight and fulfillment," and the "acquisition of experiences which are then consolidated into an ordered pattern." The director, therefore, needs to provide staff members with opportunities to immerse themselves in the issue at hand, and to acquire firsthand experiences with it.
There are many ways in which this can happen. For example, let's say the task at hand is to develop a non-sexist curriculum for the center. The director could pull together all available literature on non-sexist childrearing and education for staff members to read. Staff members could be encouraged to attend workshops and take courses on the subject. They could experiment with non-sexist curriculum ideas in their classrooms. They could visit other centers known for their non-sexist curriculums. And the director could bring in an outside expert to brainstorm with the staff on the subject.
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