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Critical thinking is critical to America’s progress

“The Creativity Crisis,” an article published recently in Newsweek magazine [July 19, 2010 edition], was an amazing and exciting surprise.

“The Creativity Crisis,” an article published recently in Newsweek magazine [July 19, 2010 edition], was an amazing and exciting surprise. First, because I passionately believe creative thinking is critically needed to deal with the myriad problems in our society. Second, because it recognizes the work of E. Paul Torrance, Ph.D., who developed this pioneering work at the University of Minnesota some 50 years ago.

Torrance was the mentor and colleague of my dear friend, Berenice “Bee” Bleedorn, Ph.D. I took a class in creative problem solving from Bee at Metro State University some years ago that was life changing. I learned that everyone is creative, including me!

Bee is now 98 years old and is an unstoppable advocate of teaching creativity and higher level, systemic thinking. She says, and I agree, that it will change the world.

Bee is deeply grateful to Torrance, and has been anguishing that he and his work do not get the attention they deserve.

The Newsweek article fulfilled that dream for her. It was a huge joy to read the article to her and share in her excitement.

The major point made in the article is that the teaching of creative thinking needs to be woven into the curriculum of the American education system at every level. It’s not a frill, and goes way beyond a lesson or two in drawing or music. Creative thinking is critical to America’s progress.

The Creativity Force is Bee’s website, where much of her work is posted. Click here for information and resources on creativity on my website.

Phyllis Stenerson, of Minneapolis, focuses on values in politics and public policy through research, writing and activism at

Quotations on creativity

“The source of America’s prosperity has never been merely how ably we accumulate wealth, but how well we educate our people. …What’s at stake is nothing less than the American Dream. … I’m calling on our nation’s governors and state education chiefs to develop standards and assessments that don’t simply measure whether students can fill in a bubble on a test, but whether they possess 21st century skills like problem-solving and critical thinking and entrepreneurship and creativity …” President Barack Obama at the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, March 10, 2009, Washington Post, March 10, 2009 [Full text of article here]

“The genius of the future will be the creative mind adapting itself to the shape of things to come…The skills of creative thinking must be recognized as human kind’s most important adaptability skills. Such skills must become basic to the curriculum of schools, homes, businesses and other agencies.” E. Paul Torrance

“Paradoxical thinking is a prerequisite for a society and world steeped in a diversity of cultures, religions and ideologies if we ever hope to achieve a more sane and peaceful world. If complex thinking were taught, practiced and modeled during the process of education everywhere, the people of the world would understand more and fight less.” Berenice Bleedorn

“Creative qualities of independence of thought, risk taking, tolerance for ambiguity, curiosity and sensitivity mark the creative individualists who have been said to be ‘the conscience of the crowd.’ ” Berenice Bleedorn