In many ways, creative has become somewhat of a euphemism meaning "off track" or "strange". If a student turns in a piece of work that's really off the wall, it's not uncommon to hear it labeled "creative but..." on the final rubric. Sometimes creativity can be used to mean "good at art" or "good at drawing". Many of today's nominees were skilled artists...but is their talent a sign of creativity, or a technical skill? In other ways, creativity is sometimes about ideas, and sometimes about action. Some see creativity as goal setting and "big picture" thinking, while others say you're only as creative as what you're actually able to create. (Disclaimer: I'm not sure who these hypothetical people are sitting around talking about creativity, but let's just imagine they're real. Be creative.) Looking at the nominees today, I saw a little bit of both. I saw some students who achieve high marks and make things, and I saw others who don't quite fit "the model" but certainly offer a unique perspective. You probably need both in order to be actually transformative.
One of the most frustrating things I struggle with as a teacher is the perceived lack of creativity among some of my senior students. By the time they get to me, they are very good at school, but the creativity has nearly been zapped away. I'm not even talking about making big projects or writing imaginative stories, but with simple things. Students would rather fill out a worksheet than come up with an interesting way to show their work. Some would rather write a five-paragraph essay, because making a video seems too daunting. Even for the 20% project (students can design their own research assignment and carry it out) many students are instead opting to read a British novel and write a 5-7 page paper. I'd like to think it was a serious love for British Literature that drives their decision making, but I'm betting it's a lack of creativity instead.
So...are you creative? I'd bet most of us think we're not at this point. Well I've got some news for you. You are creative. You're more creative than anyone else in the room right now. And yes, I'm talking to you.