It was in this atmosphere that I started my doctoral research on the motivation for the release of creativity. At that time, some of the earliest research on creativity was less than 30 years old. But the characteristics of the creative, the creative process, fostering creativity, and related research topics centered almost entirely on an adult population. They produced interesting information, but what about kids and creativity? What can we do to help them understand and cope with these urges to "do something" before they become turned off by too many people saying, "That's not the way you're supposed to do it"?

Motivation and the Creative Child

I wanted to know what motivates a creative activity, specifically, what motivates a sixth-grade student to complete a creative writing assignment. Twelve years of teaching had confirmed that a large majority of students are not overjoyed with any writing assignment. It was not long after my research was begun in 1961 that one of my university professors held the position that children were incapable of creating anything original. Working with over 400 sixth-grade students quickly convinced me otherwise.

During the last 50 years, doors have continually opened wider to students who are intelligent but have less interest in the typical, traditional academic program. Originality has received some encouragement and is credited with having some value. Elementary students, for example, have begun to value imagination. During a classroom visit while I was conducting my research, a student remarked, "I'm glad to know it's all right to have an imagination. My mom is always telling me to forget that stuff and get real."

When you remember that creativity is God's idea, you realize that we haven't valued this gift too highly. It's time to use all the gifts with which we are endowed. 

Dr. Marvin G. Baker did pioneer research in creativity and received his EdD from Ball State University. His doctoral dissertation, Motivation for the Release of Creativity through Creative Writing, was based on 2400 writing samples of sixth grade students. In 2007, he introduced the Tweener Time International Chapter Book Competition, now with more than $250,000 in scholarships to winning students. Learn more at

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