The Value of Creativity

A guest blog by Melanie Rothschild

I haven’t been able to get over the story about the former Atlanta school superintendent indicted in a colossal district-wide cheating scandal, serious enough that Dr. Parks could serve 45 years in prison. In addition to lining her own pocket with over half a million dollars in bonuses, the scores she falsified resulted in deserving students losing significant funding for remedial support, since the inaccurate scores bespoke a population which didn’t need any academic boost.

Sweet Pea[1]

“Sweet Pea”
acrylic & latex paint & air, hanging from hot rolled steel armature

So what place does all this have in a forum about art and mixed media?

Actually, I think it gets to the very heart of why art and creativity matter.

This race for amassing as many right answers as possible so often short circuits a much deeper and more genuine kind of learning, where higher level, critical thinking becomes possible. Strength for that type of mental ability gets developed in the kinds of situations where artists flourish – where play and experimentation and an appreciation for unique solutions are the order of the day as opposed to operating only in a world of rigid constructs of right and wrong answers.

When we don’t care or understand about the value of creativity we fall into measuring success using metrics which don’t take creativity into account. We judge success and failure with black and white tools; the right answer becomes the goal at all costs – and mistakes are the enemy. This is not to say that testing is never appropriate, nor to deny that there are indeed many “right” answers in life and we all need to learn the skills for knowing how to arrive at those right answers and work with them.

HOWEVER, a climate which so heavily overemphasizes testing to the point where the watchdogs at the top are facing lifelong prison sentences, is a screaming warning sign that things are alarmingly out of whack.

The realization that being truly educated revolves around an ability for complex and nuanced thinking, speaks to the importance of nurturing ourselves creatively throughout our lives.


Melanie Rothschild is a self-taught artist whose elaborate interior accessories have been sold in stores throughout the United States including Neiman-Marcus, the shops at the Smithsonian Institution, the John Michael Kohler Arts Center and hundreds of others for almost two decades. Her work is shown in fine art galleries and has been licensed to Target. She considers moxie, an irreverent nature, and a respect for mistake-making to be the tools of her trade. Melanie has a master’s degree in the Study of Creativity and an undergrad degree in Anthropology. She is from and lives in Los Angeles. “Like” Melanie on Facebook today!

Click here to see more of Melanie’s artwork and a short preview of her documentary, MISTAKE.

Creative ThursdayFor more about the value of creativity and enhancing your creativity, check out Creative Thursday: Everyday Inspiration to Grow Your Creative Practice by Marisa Anne.




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One Response to The Value of Creativity

  1. CarolineA says:

    That is a very sad story for the children involved. We now have a results-based education system in Australia, and teachers have been caught cheating, shops sell books on how to pass the tests, and the children are missing out on a large and very important part of their education, because right brain activities are discouraged and even ignored in the drive to get top marks in these bi-annual tests. Since school funding depends on the test outcomes, as do the jobs of teachers, there is very little opportunity for independant thought, play or experimentation.
    Remedial education has been a large part of our tertiary education system for a long time now; advanced language, mathematical and scientific skills are poor. Like art, these require students to take a step out of their comfort zone and ask “what if” and make a leap of faith based on their own judgement and experience in solving similar problems. They cannot do that if their training is simply to pass a series of tests so the teacher, and school system, look good.
    Since we tend to judge the success of past centuries and civilisations on the flourishing of the arts, this attitude towards education will probably define our time as one of the “dark ages”.