From Mark Twain to Woody Allen, creative adults often say they were uncomfortable in school, and educators have struggled for decades to find a reliable way to identify gifted, but often quirky or rambunctious, creative students. A study published last month in Creative Research Journal describes a University of Kansas project that mined the biographies of such notable creative adults to develop tools to help teachers identify and support creative adolescents.
Researchers Barbara Kerr and Robyn McKay analyzed biographies and
interviews of famous creative types to distill the characteristics of creative
giftedness at age 16. They then grouped those into six profiles in
five areas of creative giftedness: verbal and linguistic skills, mathematics
and science, spatial and visual skills, interpersonal and emotional skills,
and music and dance.
"Very often these traits that feed their
creativity, like openness to experience and impulsivity, get them into
trouble," Ms.Kerr said. "And many of them said that they're
only noticed in school when they're in trouble.
Creative kids tend
to be a particular type of outsider, admired by their small cadre of friends
for their art or coding abilities, but avoided by many because of their
eccentricities." The researchers worked with academic counselors
in schools across Kansas to identify 485 students who matched the profiles
and brought them to the counseling laboratory for additional testing and
interviews. A third of the students who fit the profiles for creative
giftedness had never been identified for gifted programs, largely because
their grade point averages were not higher than average, in part because
those students tended to focus only on subjects that interested them. Those
students also tended to respond better to academic counseling that encouraged
a do-it-yourself approach, such as pairing science classes with technical
classes for a student interested in becoming an inventor.