The Calculated Creative

Can You Grade Creativity?

Now with more meat on the bones, maybe creativity can finally get the respect - and dedicated grading - it deserves in our education system.

Scoring creativity has long been seen as an impossible task for teachers.

After all, how can you quantify something as subjective and free-flowing as a student's imagination?

But I believe creativity can and should be graded - with the right approach.

Here are a few of my optimistic ideas:

Throw Out Rubrics - They Stifle True Creative Spark

Trying to score creativity via rigid rubrics that box abstract thinking into neat little checkboxes is a creativity killer. It stifles the spontaneous spark of innovative thinking that we should be trying to fan! Rubrics try to make messy creativity bend to the will of standardized orderliness. This simply will not do. Instead, I propose teachers grade creativity based on visible effort, experimentation, and a willingness to try new things without fear. Quantity and risk-taking matter far more than just polished outcomes when nurturing creativity. Students should be rewarded for pushing boundaries, making lots of mistakes, and not being afraid to fall on their face. Look at the creative process, not just the final product. Award high marks for hard falls, wild ideas that don't pan out, and things you would never think to try yourself. This shows gutsy creativity in action!

Failure Should Earn Full Marks

All the greatest creative geniuses, innovators, and agents-of-change through history share one thing in common: failures. Massive, frequent failures trailblazing new paths. Mistakes, flaws, half-baked ideas that crash and burn are integral seeds sowing future creative growth. Thomas Edison reportedly failed 1000 times on prototypes before perfecting the reliable lightbulb. Can you imagine if he threw in the towel after failure number 5? Or 20? Or 300? We would all be sitting in the dark! This is why failure must not just be tolerated in creative scoring, but fully embraced and rewarded! Students unafraid to fail spectacularly should earn the highest creativity marks. This shows they are pushing boundaries, taking risks, and not afraid to fall on their face while reaching for the stars. That is courageous creativity in action. Next time a student's big creative idea is a flop, do not just pat them on the back. Give them an A+! The more failures, the higher the grade. Soon you will have a classroom full of budding Edisons!

Make Peer Collaboration Count

Solo assignments have their place, but working solo 100% of the time does not replicate how creativity will function for students out in the real world. Innovation is increasingly sparked these days via collaborative riffing, building, and melding of ideas between peers. Creative careers will require most grads to ideate, refine, and problem-solve collectively in teams. This makes the ability to synergize creatively with classmates an essential skill to both assess and nurture. Therefore, creative team projects should be part of every grading rubric. Peer collaboration abilities demonstrate key creativity traits like listening skills, integrating multiple viewpoints, compromising, and building consensus around new ideas. Students need opportunities to co-create and have their unique contributions assessed not just by the teacher, but by their teammates as well. The final products will likely be more original with a greater diversity of creative strengths on display too. You will get a better glimpse of each individual student's creative mechanics. And by weaving peer collaboration heavily into creative scoring criteria, your students will be that much more equipped to make imaginative impact on the world beyond just test results!


The Takeaway

Now with more meat on the bones, maybe creativity can finally get the respect - and dedicated grading - it deserves in our education system.

We are preparing the next generation of innovators after all.

But first, we teachers may need to adopt creativity scoring methods that some see as risky or even...creative!

Well, the most contrarian ideas often propel the most revolutionary change.

So be bold, be optimistic, and unleash some whimsical grading on our kids.

Their creative futures will thank you for it.

Make Your Work
Suck Less

Pulling back the curtain on the creative process to help make your work a little less terrible. A 3-minute read delivered each week on Monday morning.

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