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The Creativity Quotient

The Creativity Quotient

May 22nd, 2013 // 4:11 pm @

creativityI recently learned about the Creativity Quotient (CQ) from an article by bestselling author Roy H. Williams.

I’ve long been a fan of Williams’s Wizard Academy and his books, especially Wizard of Ads and  Free the Beagle.

The Creativity Quotient provides a whole new level of analyzing education, and more people need to understand it.

As Williams put it: “All across America, our 2nd graders score higher on CQ tests than our high schoolers. Evidently, compliance and conformity come at a price. Children starting school this year will retire in 2072…. CQ is 3 times more reliable as an indicator of career success than IQ.”

This is a serious issue for a nation that is losing its leadership edge in the world—precisely because we don’t effectively teach innovation in most of our schools.

CQ measures four types of learning and thinking:

Fluency. This measures, according to Williams, “The total number of interpretable, meaningful, and relevant ideas developed in response to the stimulus.”

Flexibility. “The number of different categories of relevant responses.”

Originality. “The statistical rarity of the responses.”

Elaboration. “The amount of detail in the responses.”

Together these offer a profound, and effective, way of measuring how much a student has actually learned—and to what extent he or she is able to apply valuable knowledge.

This is a much more effective gauge of learning than IQ (Intelligent Quotient) or even the more current EQ (Emotional Intelligence).

Our nation needs this way of scrutinizing education.

The most recent educational trend, at least in the public school system, is known as “accountability,” but this has followed the pattern of Education 2000 and No Child Left Behind, meaning that it emphasizes conformity, rote learning, and institutional compliance rather than truly quality learning.

In contrast, CQ provides an objective measurement tool that can really get to the heart of great education.

If students consistently increase their fluency, flexibility, originality and elaboration skills in a certain school, classroom or home, the educational system there is clearly working.

If not, something needs to be improved.

If we applied this to all public and private schools, as well as higher education, we’d see the need to make real changes at almost all levels of schooling.

While all great education is ultimately individualized, CQ is the best institutionalized measure I’ve seen—because it seeks and measures objectives that actually have everything to do with quality education.

It’s about time.

In a world where nearly every institutional measure, including so-called “accountability,” has to do with benefitting the educational bureaucracy and justifying the status quo (especially current budgets), CQ can genuinely be used to improve the education of future leaders.

Whether this will catch on in any significant way remains to be seen, but most likely it will only be widely used in the non-traditional education sector, from cutting-edge charter schools and Montessori programs to home schools and upstart private schools (what Daniel Coyle has called “chicken-wire Harvards”).

I suppose it shouldn’t surprise anyone that schools focused on innovation are usually promoted by entrepreneurs and innovators rather than by the educational establishment.

Parents, teachers and educators who are genuinely interested in great education—more than trying to impress the declining but powerful educational bureaucracy—will find that CQ is a valuable tool.

Indeed, it was foreshadowed by bestselling futurist Alvin Toffler who wrote in Revolutionary Wealth that truly successful schools will replace rote memorization and a culture of intellectual conformity with creative thinking, personalized learning plans and individual mentoring.

Another way to say this is simply that great education is based on the principle of “Inspire, not Require,” as outlined in A Thomas Jefferson Education.

To summarize this view: Our children have genius inside, and the real purpose of education is to help them detect, develop and use their inner genius to serve and improve the world.

Most schools aren’t pursuing this fundamental goal of education any more, but parents, teachers and educators who really care can make sure that such learning is offered to the students they work with.

The 7 Keys of Thomas Jefferson Education outline how to do this.

This may seem idealistic to some people, but education is by definition concerned with ideals.

In fact, if anything, we need a lot more idealism in our educational system.

We need a serious return to innovation—the future of our nation and economy literally depends on it.

For those who are professional educators, either as teachers or administrators (or who have friends who are), I hope they’ll study and pass along the emerging ideals of CQ.


odemille 133x195 custom Egypt, Freedom, & the Cycles of HistoryOliver DeMille is the chairman of the Center for Social Leadership and co-creator of Thomas Jefferson Education.

He is the author of A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the 21st Century, and The Coming Aristocracy: Education & the Future of Freedom.

Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through leadership education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah.

Category : Blog &Book Reviews &Education &Family &Featured &Leadership

2 Comments → “The Creativity Quotient”

  1. Keith

    10 years ago

    If you look at modern physics, they are all about creativity minus logic and minus rational thinking. In fact, it is so dark in the field that they have created for themselves an iron bubble. Those with the most “out there” ideas get advanced because they promise the most magic. The rest are not welcome inside the group. This is where creativity moves forward without oral discussion, without definition, and without understanding.

    Allowing for freedom is imperative, but infusing that freedom with meaning, value and a solid epistemological foundation is imperative. I think it is a mistake to assume a new generation of creative thinkers will solve our problems because they were educated in a creative and freedom atmosphere. It means there are no practices from the far distant past that will come back, something on the level that the hearts of the children will turn to the hearts of the fathers. When this happens across a huge expanse in historical separation, then something truly great will happen. We will think creatively with the truth in mind.

  2. meg

    10 years ago

    I have two children aged 8 and 10 who are pure creators. We have changed them school 5 times already and did t hesitate to change country for them to keep being free to think outside the box. They now go to a school that uses creativity and critical thinking as the every day tools and they blossom. We don t have a television at home and don t use the typical education models but rather we describe ourselves as a democratic family. What my kids do all day is have ideas…. they make movies, write stories, play hide and seek, have conversations with us about lots of different topics, create a newsletter for our street, make a city out of cereal boxes and much more. I have no doubts they are happy. Lots of people express that their kids couldn t be educated without punishments or rewards and how do we know thatch they learn something at school if we don t have a report card. I find it hard to realise that most parents don t really think it through and most importantly don t trust their children. I do not know my children CQ but i hope it is not declining with year. That would be sad.

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