Sunday, December 25, 2011

problems with creative students

Two links from economics blogs today*.

From Marginal Revolution, comes a retelling of a problem I reviewed last year: "Teachers don't like creative students". I'm quoting from Alex Tabarrok, who is quoting from someone else and Blogger won't nest quotes inside other quotes, so let me quote in blue:

My experience as a parent is consistent with the idea that teachers don’t like creative students but I try not to blame the teachers too much. Creative people, for better and worse, ignore social conventions. Thus, it can be hard for teachers to deal with creative students in a classroom setting where they must guide 20-30 students en masse. As Jonah Lehrer puts it:
Would you really want a little Picasso in your class? How about a baby Gertrude Stein? Or a teenage Eminem? The point is that the classroom isn’t designed for impulsive expression – that’s called talking out of turn. Instead, it’s all about obeying group dynamics and exerting focused attention. Those are important life skills, of course, but decades of psychological research suggest that such skills have little to do with creativity.
The article offers a link to a "good review paper" on the subject.  Creativity: asset or burden in the classroom.

Freakonomics offered a quote with this comment: Creative types are more likely to cheat.  The link goes to Time Healthland:
Creative people think “outside the box,” a gift of psychological flexibility that, it turns out, may also apply to their ethics, according to the latest research from the American Psychological Association. Creative types, in other words, may be more likely to cheat.
The article quotes Dan Ariely, who is well worth reading on a variety of subjects.  I tend to trust what he has to say, but I wonder.
“Dishonesty and innovation are two of the topics most widely written about in the popular press,” wrote the authors. “Yet, to date, the relationship between creativity and dishonest behavior has not been studied empirically. … The results from the current article indicate that, in fact, people who are creative or work in environments that promote creative thinking may be the most at risk when they face ethical dilemmas.”

Perhaps I am using my creativity to rationalize unethical behavior, but I wonder if we are seeing a rebellion against artificial deadlines and rules that are arbitrary and not-so-meaningful outside of school. If an explanation for the rules that the student felt made sense were offered, perhaps they would be less likely to cheat.

I must admit that in reading my paragraph above I see that I am confusing creativity with intelligence. I would like the two to be related but can't say for sure that they are.
--------* Merry Christmas, everyone!

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