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DEFYING THE CROWD by Robert J. Sternberg


Cultivating Creativity in a Culture of Conformity

by Robert J. Sternberg, Todd I. Lubart

Pub Date: March 22nd, 1995
ISBN: 0-02-931475-5
Publisher: Free Press

 An unstartling assessment of the nature and value of creativity in a society that strives--consciously and subconsciously--to squelch it. Sternberg (Psychology and Education/Yale Univ.; Love the Way You Want It, 1991, etc.) and researcher Lubart make a case for how the creative person can ``buy low and sell high'': With determination and foresight, they contend, one can develop an unpopular concept that, in time, can become both fashionable and profitable. If creative people are to succeed, despite the often strong odds, they must have the confidence to fight for what they believe in. Sternberg and Lubart illustrate how the corporate world commonly ``rewards'' the creative person with a dismissal for not ``fitting in,'' rather than giving him or her ``a promotion or bonus for having a creative idea.'' Highly critical of the current testing and educational systems, the authors propose that students be evaluated by portfolios that demonstrate their unique abilities rather than by tests that measure rote learning. They maintain that current I.Q. tests do not gauge creativity, and creative youngsters are often not valued by their teachers and institutions of learning. Moreover, as students progress through school, their creativity is stifled. Sternberg and Lubart suggest that teachers conduct their classes informally and allow students choose their own topics to investigate--preferably topics requiring interaction with minds outside the classroom. The authors champion nonconformity in the sciences and business as well, contending that creative, risk-taking people succeed in finance since they are ``self-actualizers: They want to make the most of themselves that they possibly can.'' The authors are afraid that they ``may seem more like storytellers than scientists.'' Ironically, however, for a book on creativity, there is precious little here that is original.