Intercultural Creativity is an essential element for students’ learning in the future of work. Teachers must be aware of their own mindset around creativity and cultural connections. They can implement this methodology into the curriculum, so gifted students have the ability to be adaptable and flexible in their learning and create content in any situation.
Award-winning educator Genein Letford shares how Intercultural Creativity®, which integrates cultural competence with creative thinking, is strengthened by having students connect and create together. Her brain-backed curriculum ideas are easy to implement and engage with while advancing creative thinking for both the teacher and the students. You can learn more about this topic in her course, Intercultural Creativity for Classrooms and Beyond.
Students who build a culturally creative mindset are more engaged, creative, and productive at work. We asked some questions and received invaluable insight from our content partner, Genein Letford, prior to her keynote speech for NAGC. Genein helps inform, inspire, and transform educators to fulfill their creative potential while achieving their unique educational goals.
Why is Intercultural Creativity important to consider in education?
Creative thinking is now the number one skill needed in the workforce, per the World Economic Forum. If this is such a huge need for our workforce, then we need to be paying attention to it in the K-12 system.
The fact that our society is greatly interconnected and highly global, the ability to interact with people from different lived experiences, cultures, and belief systems will be of the utmost importance for our students. The skill to create with people from different backgrounds is even more critical. Understanding what’s going on in the brain while we are creating with people who may be different from us is now essential for this future of work.
What experiences in your journey led to your passion for Intercultural Creativity?
In my book, The Future Classroom of Intercultural Creativity, I acknowledge that my mother is a true founder of this concept. She made sure we were in a home that was creative and explored our curiosities. She exposed us to different types of people, different cultures, and different ways that people live while teaching us to be highly respectful of everyone we meet.
As a former teacher in the classroom, I infused this type of learning and thinking into all my lessons. No matter what I was teaching, I always had a cultural and creative component to the content. It really helped my students widen their worldviews and broaden their ability to connect with people across cultural lines.
What have been some of the most well-received strategies for fostering a culture of Intercultural Creativity?
The most effective one is the method of how the brain learns best, through experience. The brain learns best through experiencing something directly or watching someone else go through the experience and learning from it. Therefore, having our students 1.) experience different cultural interactions, 2.) experience taking risks with meeting people who we may not be able to predict their behavior, and 3.) experience creating things where we may not know the outcome, this grows our Intercultural Creativity.
Experience, experience, experience!
What have been some of the challenges with fostering Intercultural Creativity in schools, and how can these challenges become opportunities?
I used to compare the K-12 school system to the Titanic. It’s like we’re this huge ship that sees the iceberg ahead, but we’re too big to turn. Students with no creative ability are the iceberg ahead, and we must turn this ship now!
Being stuck in our old ways of learning, which may have been efficient during the industrial revolution, is a huge challenge that we must overcome. Schools need to build students who are adaptable, flexible, and ready to take on this VUCA environment. VUCA stands for volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous. Intercultural creativity has within it the elements and skills to be able to navigate in a VUCA environment.
I discuss some great implementable ideas in the book my 4-year-old son and I wrote called, I Am Creative. It goes over the 16 Diamond Tools of highly creative thinkers from the viewpoint of a child. It’s fun yet actionable!
You define creative thinking as “the process of problem-finding and problem-solving with relevance, value, and novelty.” This definition means we are all far more creative than we realize. How can teachers use Intercultural Creativity to help students thrive?
I first say that teachers need to do a self-reflection on their own mindset around creative thinking. Do they see themselves as creative? The work of Carol Dweck states that the teacher’s mindset highly influences the student’s creative success. So for the teachers to see themselves as creative and to see their students as creative is an important component to help their students thrive.
Our own mind limits us from what can possibly be. We need to support our students’ curiosity, let them ask questions, lower our egos and allow them to be the instructors at various times, which is an important part of our classroom strategy. Showing students that all of us are teachers in some way and we all have something more to share is an important aspect of Intercultural Creativity. It reminds us that creative ideas can come from anywhere and from anyone.
How can administrators inspire and collaborate with teachers who are less inclined to see the value of Intercultural Creativity?
Attitude reflects leadership. If the administrators are not on board with allowing their teachers and students to express their creativity, it will not resonate among the students. Our children imitate what they see and if they see their teachers and administrators taking risks, connecting with others, and doing new things where they are not a master yet, it will encourage them to take risks as well.
Administrators can continue to give their teachers the space, the professional development, the online training, and the resources to grow their own Intercultural Creativity and to help them see the connections within the curriculum. Administrators can continue to allow teachers to discover that this is the way of learning for the future.
It’s our job to get our students ready for a future that we have no idea what it looks like. This is no longer negotiable. This is mandatory. This is their time. Our students need to have brains that are flexible, adaptable, and ready to create in any situation and with anyone.
What is one thing you recommend starting today to foster more Intercultural Creativity in our lives?
Creativity is available for everyone, but the brain loves to stay in routine and be with people whom it can predict their actions. Therefore, in order for us to increase Intercultural Creativity in our own lives, we need to be intentional about doing activities and hobbies that are not the same as our main line of work.
I schedule events where I put myself in new situations and meet new people on a regular basis. This is expanding my social brain network and it’s also expanding my experiential toolkit. So when I need to be creative about something in my work, I have more tools to pull from because of the amount of varied experiences and diverse people in my life.
Intercultural Creativity is the way of the present and future! I’m so excited to bring this to the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC) as their opening keynote speaker.
Interested in learning more about how to foster Intercultural Creativity in your school? Check out the course demo on Intercultural Creativity for Classrooms and Beyond today!
Get to know Genein: As the 2019 LA Lakers Business Woman and the 2015 CA Charter Teacher of the Year, Genein is a national thought leader and creator of the concept of ‘Intercultural Creativity® and NeuroSomatic Creativity®’. As a TEDx speaker and top neurocreativity trainer, she has inspired many educators and admins to be aware of their brain’s influences on their cultural lenses and creative abilities to produce innovative ideas for the classroom and workspace. Explore Genein’s website to learn more.
Her 7 Gems of Intercultural Creativity® is a leading framework that encourages corporations in their diversity and inclusion development while developing critical cognitive tools for creative thinking. Genein’s book, The Future Classroom of Intercultural Creativity: Building Students Who Connect and Create Together is the only book on this topic.
She recently published her first children’s book, I AM CREATIVE! with her 4-year-old son. Genein believes creative thinking thrives best in an inclusive environment, and she is often called ‘America’s Creative Coach’ for her work in reigniting Intercultural Creativity within our schools and workforce.