Dr. Joanne Foster is returning to our podcast upon the release of her new book, “Ignite Your Ideas: Creativity for Kids,” written for children 12 and older. It provides understandings and strategies, generates exciting, accessible choices and joyful creative experiences for kids and their families. Teachers will also find countless possibilities and strategies. In this podcast, Dr. Foster highlights the role of agency and effort in creativity. She shares a few of the over 100 sure-fire ways to spark creativity across many different areas of interest that are found in her book.
Find “Mess for Success“ here. You’re invited to scroll through and explore LOTS of resources, and this particular one is listed partway down under the heading “Articles on Important Topics
At this website, including the bookshop, you can take advantage of a discount code specially set for the Steve Barkley Ponders Out Loud community! Use POL20! at check out for 20% off these books: “Ignite Your Ideas,” “Being Smart about Gifted Learning,” “ABCS of Raising Smarter Kids, Bust Your BUTS,” and “Not Now, Maybe Later“ – valid till Dec. 31st, 2023. Great now and for holiday gift-giving.
[00:00:01.130] – Steve [Intro]
Hello and welcome to the Parents as Learning Coaches edition of the Steve Barkley Ponders Out Loud podcast. Parents and caregivers play many different roles and even sometimes conflicting roles as they support children’s development. The pandemic has shown a light on the importance of parents supporting learners. In this podcast, I’ll share my experiences as a teacher educator, parent, grandparent, and continuous learner that can support your coaching efforts.
[00:00:38.670] – Steve
Ignite Your Ideas. Dr. Joanne Foster is returning to our podcast upon the release of her new book, “Ignite Your Ideas: Creativity For Kids.” She recorded an earlier three part podcast with us that I’d encourage you to review to deepen your understanding of the importance of creativity and the ways to tap the possibilities. I’ve linked those podcasts in the lead-in to this podcast. Her book, “Ignite Your Ideas” was written for children twelve and older. It enlightens and motivates. It provides understandings and strategies, generates exciting, accessible choices, and joyful, creative experiences for kids and their families. Teachers will also find countless possibilities, resources, and strategies. Dr. Foster has written eight books. She has worked in the field of gifted education for over 35 years. She has a master’s degree in special education and adaptive instruction, as well as a doctorate in human development and applied psychology. She writes about intelligence, creativity, child development, motivation, procrastination, and more. Joanne shares her experiences as a parent, educator, consultant, and community advocate. Today, we’ll be talking about igniting creativity. Welcome, Joanne.
[00:02:09.490] – Joanne
Hi. So lovely to be back here. Thank you so much.
[00:02:12.830] – Steve
Thank you for coming back. I’m wondering, for starters, if you’d just review some of the key points that we addressed in that three part series that we did for parents.
[00:02:23.910] – Joanne
Sure. So, in the first podcast episode, I discussed the power of creativity and offer some action steps for enhancing it. In the second episode, I chat about different questions that kids can ask to become more creative, I discuss why people sometimes struggle with creativity and what to do about that and I discuss different outlets for creative expression. And in the third episode, I chatted with you about purposeful action, and practical strategies for cultivating creativity and I also review some of the key takeaways from the previous three episodes. So I invite people to listen to all three, and please get in touch with me as well and let me know your thoughts.
[00:03:11.950] – Steve
The purposeful action piece is a part that I’ve carried forward and have sent people back to in both a couple of podcasts and blogs that I’ve done.
[00:03:25.570] – Joanne
I’ve actually cited you in the book because that was your expression, which I picked up on on that particular podcast episode. I loved it. And so, yeah, you’re in there.
[00:03:36.550] – Steve
So how does ignite your Ideas extend the extensive writing that you’ve previously done around creativity?
[00:03:44.810] – Joanne
Okay, so this is a book for kids and for their families. It’s not a craft book. It’s not a how to guide. It’s a one of a kind burst of glimmers and gleams and flashes of creativity that kids can actually read themselves. I discuss how creativity develops, why it matters, what agency and effort have to do with this, so maybe that’s something we’ll discuss later today, and of course, how kids can ignite the imagination. I have lots of resources, and the last chapter is actually 100 surefire ideas to ignite creativity.
[00:04:20.950] – Steve
There’s a phrase that I know you’ve talked about of brain building as an extension from what people usually talk about as brainstorming. Give us a little more detail around those.
[00:04:37.230] – Joanne
Absolutely. So brainstorming is actually about collaboration and sharing ideas and then developing them. And it can be wonderfully productive. A lot of businesses use brainstorming, school situations, you name it, it’s out there. It’s people getting together, building relationships, and developing new perspectives. And it’s fun too. So that’s brainstorming. Brain building is actually about boosting brain power. So it’s about reinforcing that neuroplasticity – the way the brain functions, developmental pathways inside the brain. And teachers and parents actually would do well to teach children about how their brains function, what kinds of activities are involved in brain boosting. So you might include things like developing new skill sets, preparing for different outcomes in certain situations, of course, exploring and investigating ideas, using your curiosity, and then using your creativity as well. And I think in a lot of schools now, teachers are actually taking the time to discuss how the brain works with children. And once they grasp that, they have such respect for it and it’s wonderful to see things materialize from there.
[00:05:55.350] – Steve
So just a double check for me – I can grow my creativity.
[00:06:01.190] – Joanne
Absolutely. Creativity is something that everybody has the potential to increase. Creativity is a choice. You can either choose to use your creativity or not. It has to do with flexible attitudes towards your daily activities, towards your life decisions. And you can actually boost your creativity by supporting your day to day thoughts and actions, paying close attention to what’s around you, using your senses, discovering the wonder that’s out there, all the possibilities that are out there, culturally – wherever you happen to be, there’s always a possibility to use your imagination and let your mind just go.
[00:06:53.350] – Steve
There’s a chapter in the book that takes a look at agency and effort, and those are words that certainly educators talk a lot about. And I know effort is big on parents’ list. So where do you want to jump in sharing some thoughts and understanding of those two terms?
[00:07:18.910] – Joanne
So why don’t we start with differentiating what the two terms are and what they refer to and then I’ll start with one and then move on to the other and you can jump in in between or at any point in time if you have any thoughts. So in short, agency refers to action and involvement. So a good way to sort of think about that is to consider the quote that Benjamin Franklin once said and it happens to be one of my favorites – “tell me and I forget, teach me and I remember, involve me and I learn.” So that involvement piece is where the agency comes in. Effort on the other hand, is actually hard work. Agency and effort are interconnected and creativity itself comes from taking responsibility for and investing in both agency and effort. So if you want, I can give you some pointers around how to cultivate or support children’s agency and then also a couple of pointers around how to support their effort.
[00:08:26.750] – Steve
Okay, yeah that sounds good, but I want to check with the piece – it’s bringing the two of them together then that has the impact on creativity.
[00:08:35.440] – Joanne
Yeah, I think in a lot of ways there are other things also that have an impact on creativity. But for now, let’s look at these two because they’re very impactful. So let’s start with the agency. So the first thing around agency in terms of involvement and participation is to help kids to become more proactive, to take ownership of possibilities and participation, to think, what do I want to accomplish? How can I do that? What do I have to do first? What technology might be useful? Who can support me in what it is that I’m doing? A teacher, a grandparent parent, a coach, a mentor? I think if kids are going to be proactive, they also have to have faith in themselves. They have to self advocate if they need particular materials or resources or whatever it is. Sometimes we just have to look around and determine what it is that we can actually do to have a more creative outlook around things and to think about our options and our hopes and our dreams and to follow our strengths. So the first aspect there of agency then is to be proactive.
[00:09:43.570] – Steve
So as a parent, what’s a parent action that generates agency with my children?
[00:09:56.930] – Joanne
Support their curiosity, their questions, offer genuine praise when they accomplish something, even if it’s a small step. Give them the opportunity to take advantage of the wide world out there, the learning opportunities that might be at their disposal.
[00:10:18.810] – Steve
Am I hearing building confidence? Even confidence that comes with mistakes?
[00:10:24.340] – Joanne
Yes. Or things that didn’t work – that’s resilience too.
[00:10:29.290] – Steve
Okay, so effort.
[00:10:31.460] – Joanne
Effort. So the first one was to help kids to become more proactive and involved. The second piece is to help them find life balance. So this one is really important because kids are so busy and they’ve got so much going on in their demands and their responsibilities in school, so helping them to regulate their activities, to manage the things that they have to do to find the right kind of pacing, to help them find a sense of calm during the day, to exercise, to read, to eat properly, to make sure they get enough rest. All of these things will help them to cultivate their creativity, but also their agency, their wanting to be involved in things because they feel good about themselves. So life balance is the second point. And the third is help kids to appreciate their past experiences. A good word for that is retrospection. So to realize that there’s value in looking back on the meaningful things that they’ve done in the past, the things that they’ve enjoyed, that have given them happiness, that make them proud. And to think specifically on their agency, to think about their involvement in those experiences and what it is that they can bring forward and perhaps tap into again, to think about what made me feel good?
[00:11:51.220] – Joanne
What did I need to get organized in order to do that? And maybe I can apply it again. So the third point is to think back on your experiences. But I should mention too, it’s also important to think forward. So forethought is also important in there because although you want them to look back, you also want them to plan and be prepared for what’s to come. So it’s kind of a two sided coin.
[00:12:13.630] – Steve
Am I hearing knowing myself?
[00:12:16.270] – Joanne
You’re hearing knowing yourself, but you’re also hearing knowing where my strengths lie. Again, I said that a couple of times already. And it’s really important because that goes back to that confidence piece. If you feel that you’ve done something that you can build upon, then that becomes a good basis for creativity because you take your past knowledge and that becomes a springboard for what’s to come.
[00:12:46.870] – Steve
Okay, so should we go into effort?
[00:12:51.370] – Joanne
Sure. So the first part of effort that I think we have to appreciate is that it’s a learning curve. Effort takes time, it takes work. And parents can help kids appreciate that effort will help them understand what it is they can do well, what it is that they might have to work harder on, and what kinds of help they might need to rise above any difficulties that they might encounter. So we’re back to that concept of resilience that we just mentioned. So figuring those things out can take time, patience. But marshaling effort is a huge part of getting to whatever endpoint you might want to get to. And also it’s the journey, it’s a curve. It’s a learning curve. It takes time. And it’s something that can be very meaningful. Sometimes we worry about, in creativity terms, we worry about getting to that endpoint, that wonderful story or poem or picture or whatever it might be that you’re working towards. But if children enjoy the journey, the effort part, and they understand that it’s not hard done by, it’s something that can be very fruitful and gratifying, then that’s important. So the first point there is learning curve.
[00:14:14.370] – Steve
It’s interesting because I wrote a book a few years back called, “Tapping Student Effort: Increasing Student Achievement” and patience was one of the words that I had identified that were a critical element of effort because that realization that the first effort that I put in may not have that immediate reward and so learning patience as part of that effort process was important.
[00:14:50.420] – Joanne
Indeed. Effort, time, and also opportunities to focus and then refocus and tweak things. Like when I write a book, it doesn’t just pop out of the computer. It’s something that I have to do again and again. And I review and I go back to it and I change words and I check my resources and I check my quotes. It’s a lot of work and I think anything worth doing is worth doing well. And that requires, as you say, effort, patience, time, support. So there are lots of factors in there. So my first effort point then is that it’s a learning curve and we don’t have to do it alone because we all have lots of people we can connect with to help us with our learning. The second point around effort that I would emphasize is that it can lead to really great things, as you mentioned, confidence, creative expression, intellectual development. And we can help kids learn to self congratulate as they take little steps and they get to wherever they want to be or they follow some interest or some sort of pursuit that maybe they’ve never tried before. It’s important for adults to demonstrate this as well, to show that there’s a lot of self fulfillment involved in their own creative expression and from building upon their skills and expanding their range of knowledge.
[00:16:10.100] – Joanne
So effort leads to great things. That’s the second one. And the third point around effort is that it provides a means to strengthen relationships. It’s an opportunity to invite others into your world, your activities, whatever it is that you’re doing, to invite them in for guidance, for feedback, for enjoyment, for collaborative purposes, to do things together. So that building of relationships through effort, whether it’s community members, neighbors, friends, family, having others on site to help foster your creative endeavors is a wonderful thing. So the three points for effort is, it’s a learning curve, it leads to great things and it’s a means to strengthen relationships.
[00:16:58.550] – Steve
That relationship piece, the word that was going through my head as I was listening to you was support. So it’s the student, the child, the learner understanding that support is available for my creative efforts. Have I got that?
[00:17:16.800] – Joanne
Yes, absolutely. And that support can come in different ways. It can come through resource provision. It can be a warm smile or a hug. It could be encouragement, a kind word, a thumbs up, whatever it might take to motivate the child to continue whatever it is that they’re doing and just getting in there and being messy together or coming up with a brand new idea for something. It can be wonderful.
[00:17:49.850] – Steve
I’m just smiling at myself as I’m listening to you because a movie is flashing back in my head. The last visit I had to my grandkids, my twelve year old grandson, who’s into the arts, sat me down at a table where he was working on a beaded project that he laid all these beads down and then had to melt them when you were all finished to create a final product. And he required that I needed to do one while he was doing his. And my big fingers really struggled with dropping all those tiny beads in. But I know the strong relationship piece that came out of it.
[00:18:42.490] – Joanne
But it’s even more than that. I think it’s wonderful that you did that because you were showing him that you were persevering, that you were doing something intricate and finicky and unusual and the fact that you were mustering that ability and that you were putting forth agency and effort to come up with whatever it was you were doing. You were sending a really important message. So, yeah, good for you.
[00:19:04.420] – Steve
Mine was much smaller than his, but I did finish one.
[00:19:06.400] – Joanne
It’s an opportunity to talk and laugh. What could be better?
[00:19:11.810] – Steve
Yeah, that’s what I was going to say through the whole thing.
[00:19:16.200] – Steve
I think he read support just by being there and engaging in it with him was read as a form of support.
[00:19:25.030] – Joanne
Exactly. And again, sometimes you have to know when to step back and let them have that independence and do it on their own. And other times you have to sort of hop in and join the fun and say, “can I join you?” And if they say no, you respect it, and if they say yes, then get right in there and do your reading, or whatever it is.
[00:19:41.790] – Steve
This was one that was side by side. He did his own thing, which was substantially bigger and more complicated than mine, but he enjoyed watching me struggle with my little one.
[00:19:53.440] – Joanne
That’s okay. But you had fun and you laughed, right?
[00:19:57.620] – Steve
Yeah, absolutely. Well, your book is filled of ideas for igniting creativity. So let’s take some of the thoughts that you’ve had for kids for kids to use directly from the book for themselves.
[00:20:17.350] – Joanne
Okay, so as I say, there are ideas all throughout the book, but the last chapter has got 100 different specific ideas, so I’ll share just a few of those. But I just want to point out that the ideas really span a broad range of possibilities. There’s technology, science, arts, writing, entrepreneurial pursuits, leadership ideas, community involvement, things to do in the kitchen, things to do with nature, problem solving, virtual travel. There’s a ton of different possibilities out there, so I’m just going to give you just a couple or whatever and their jumping off points. So the very first one of the 100 is actually to read, because reading can open so many doorways for children. Past, present, future, science fiction, historical fiction, poetry, legends. There’s so many themes and options and ideas just waiting to be grasped and then extended. So reading broadens understanding of the creative process, understandings of what’s ordinary, what’s extraordinary language skills, it’s just powerful. So the first way to enhance creativity that I suggest is through reading. The second point I just want to make here is an idea of interviewing people. Kids of any age can interview people and find out what it is that have made a creative impetus for them and also what’s made the world a better place.
[00:21:56.230] – Joanne
So perhaps they want to interview a conservationist, or perhaps they want to interview someone who runs a charitable foundation or maybe a clown and how they make children happy, whatever it might be, department store, Santa Claus. Whatever it might be – juggler, whoever. Just that concept of asking questions, getting answers, taking those ideas and extending them forward. And questions they can ask are things like, well, what makes you happy? What makes you feel creative? Is there anything I can do to help you in doing these wonderful things that you do? So a second possibility, then, is interviewing people. A third possibility for creativity – this is actually number 32 in the book in the last chapter, is to surprise someone. To do something nice but totally unexpected, for somebody not to be too fussed about your artistry or your technique or whether you can get those beads exactly right in whatever it is you’re producing. That doesn’t matter. The idea is to just focus on the interaction, on being kind, and getting a sense of how creativity and thoughtfulness can strengthen relationships, which goes back to that other point I said earlier about effort.
[00:23:18.810] – Joanne
And I’ll give you another one here, too. This is the fourth one on ways to become more creative. And this is actually number 51 in the book. And it’s to investigate other cultures, to tap into what’s going on elsewhere, because creative ideas happen all around the world, and sometimes there are wonderful things going on that we might not otherwise know about. So that, in turn, can enhance your efforts in agency when you see some wonderful things happening elsewhere. So, for example, Japan is known for haiku poetry and for beautiful gardens, tea gardens and hill gardens and dry gardens. And then you’ve got the Inuit culture, which has beautiful paintings and clothing and carvings. And Amish culture has wonderful quilts and stitching and beautiful patterns. So the idea here is to find those cultural influences from all around the world and allow them to breathe new life into the creative projects that you might want to try. So those are four ideas.
[00:24:24.060] – Steve
As I hear the four, it seems that they would all apply directly to me for myself.
[00:24:30.310] – Joanne
Great. There you go. So I’m going to review them for you. The first was to read. The second was to interview, which is what you’re doing right now. The third is to surprise someone so I’ll watch my inbox to see what you do. And the third to investigate other cultures, which isn’t so far off because you’re sitting in Switzerland and I’m sitting in Canada.
[00:24:50.990] – Steve
Yeah and I just know that all of those have that growth impact for all of us. It’s powerful. I’m wondering if there’s a piece that you want to point to as an example for what parents and other people who support kids development might from the book for themselves.
[00:25:15.620] – Joanne
Okay, so I’ll give you four ones. I gave you four quick kids, I’m going to give you four quick ones for adults. So the first one is think about what you regret not trying yet. In other words, what would you really like to do but you haven’t yet done? Sometimes we call this a bucket list, but you might want to go bungee jumping, or maybe you want to swim with dolphins, or maybe you want to rescue stray cats or dogs on a safari or learn a new language or walk across the glacier. Who knows, right? Everybody has their own sense of what it is they want to do. Why not propel yourself forward and show kids that you’ve got some gumption and that you want to try something? Now, certain things you can’t do, like you may need specific lessons like if you want to pilot a helicopter or you want to become a firefighter and deal with these horrible fires that are happening, or if you want to win a marathon, for example. I mean, that takes skill and training and whatnot. But even then, if that’s your goal, then take those first few steps, whatever it is you have to do.
[00:26:20.510] – Joanne
If you show kids that you are resourceful and creative and you’ve set a goal and you’re working towards it, then you’re sending a really powerful message.
[00:26:33.100] – Steve
Big modeling role for us to play as adults.
[00:26:34.850] – Joanne
Exactly. So that would be my first supportive idea, is to show your own desire towards being creative and and valuing it as part of your life and stepping out on that limb a little bit and trying things. The second piece is to be a buddy, to be a cheerleader, to work alongside kids just as you were doing with your grandson, but also becoming involved in the planning process, the brainstorming process, as well as the fun. So whether it’s making beads or making slime or co-creating a story and turning it into a puppet play, whatever it might be, just welcome the pieces and help kids put them together by being a buddy, being a friend as well as whatever professional or familial role you have. That connectivity and doing the activities together at a pace that’s comfortable for them because sometimes adults want to sort of take the lead and do it – I can do it faster, I can do it better. But in your case, not necessarily so, but whatever that togetherness piece and the embracing of messiness, that would be another point I would like to point out, too, because I think that we sometimes miss the opportunities to do the stuff that might involve the cleanup after.
[00:27:53.180] – Joanne
So it’s okay if they make furniture forts, or they doodle or they splash or they jump in mud puddles, or they drop beads on the floor, or they spill the slime in some way that’s maybe not wonderful, but that’s okay. Just do it. It’s part of the happiness and part of the creative fulfillment. Actually, just so you know, I wrote an article on that, it’s called, “Mess For Success” and I wrote it in the Creativity Post, and I should tell your listeners to have a look at the Creativity Post. I’ve got an entire column there with about 100 different articles. This one on mess for success was back in October of 2022. And I’ll give you the link to put in the lead-in as well, if you would like.
[00:28:32.040] – Steve
I’d love it.
[00:28:33.300] – Joanne
It helps kids find different ways to dance wildly and step outside their comfort zone and to get in touch with their creative side. So the first was to be a buddy little second embrace. Messiness was the first and the first was a bucket list to embrace what it is you haven’t tried. So those are the first three. And the fourth one would be to challenge yourself, to try something that maybe you’ve never tried before, but to be willing to go beyond, to persevere, to understand the power of resilience. To know that you can take breaks when you need to, but to really stretch in ways that maybe you haven’t.
[00:29:26.230] – Steve
Well, Joanne, thank you so much for everything you’ve shared here. And I wanted to check, is your website, joannefoster.ca? Is that the best way for listeners to connect with you and to find out more about ignite your ideas?
[00:29:43.470] – Joanne
Absolutely. joannefoster.ca. I have a very robust resources page. I have separate pages on each of my books so that people can find out more about those. And my publisher, which is Gifted Unlimited, is very kind in that they are offering a 20% discount to your listeners if they wish to purchase any of my books. And they can also get them on Amazon if they want, or Barnes and Noble or anywhere. But the discount coupon is good until Christmas time, or till the end of the year, actually. So it’s good for gift giving as well.
[00:30:20.710] – Steve
That’s great. So just give I want to be sure people got the clarity. What do they have to do to use the coupon?
[00:30:29.620] – Joanne
They just have to go to the website, which is giftedunlimitedllc.com. I’ll send that to you for your lead-in as well. If they go to the bookshop, they just go through the steps as indicated on screen and Amazon and other sites, they know what to do, I’m sure. And I also have another book called Beyond Intelligence from a Canadian publisher which might be of interest to them as well. It’s about nine years old, I think, now, but it still has lots of ideas and a full chapter on creativity too.
[00:30:58.300] – Steve
Well, thank you. We’ll be sure to put all that in the lead-in to this podcast.
[00:31:03.520] – Joanne
[00:31:04.020] – Steve
[00:31:05.260] – Joanne
You have a great day. Always nice to chat with you. And I’m going to give you one more tip for you and for everybody else. Find those like minded people. Find those people who have the same kinds of enthusiasm and excitement as you do, Steve, and as I do. And let’s get together and let’s continue to encourage the creative vibe that we’re talking about today.
[00:31:31.070] – Steve
Thank you. Take care.
[00:31:32.510] – Joanne
Thank you. You too. Bye.
[00:31:36.110] – Steve [Outro]
Thanks for listening, folks. I’d love to hear what you’re pondering. You can find me on Twitter or LinkedIn @stevebarkley or send me your questions and find my videos and blogs at barkleypd.com.