It’s Gonna Take “Creative Confidence” to Design an Arts Integration Program!

I was first introduced to the concept of prototyping and the design process last year, when our Superintendent showed us the IDEO Shopping Cart video ( as a way to explain the process we would use to design our arts program for students.  Over the course of the year, we used catch-phrases like “embrace the messy” or “be comfortable in the uncertainty”.  For me, who scored high in those personality surveys in being pragmatic, this was a huge step.  Yet, the journey over the course of the first year allowed our team of teachers, students, and parents to design a program without initial parameters and based on research and feedback from staff, parents, and students throughout the journey.  As our district leadership team reads the book Creative Confidence by the Kelley brothers, founder of IDEO, I see that it’s going to take creative confidence by our team members to design a program that not only integrates the arts but also builds creative confidence.

This has been counter-intuitive to how I normally witness or participating in program development. Like the marshmallow challenge (, the tendency is for a lot of planning to occur and then the unveiling right before production.  When designing it from that timeline, people don’t really want feedback – they want affirmation and praise.

Through the design journey in the past year, I feel stronger in the area of my personal creative confidence – “Creative confidence is like a muscle – it can be strengthened and nurtured through effort and experience” (Kelley & Kelley, p. 2).

As we share our prototypes, I know we are on the right track when audience members ask us questions we don’t have the answer for.  Instead of fidgeting or shrinking back in not having a response, we have stood boldly understanding our purpose during the prototype stage in being comfortable in the uncertainty and knowing we are gathering feedback to inform our next prototype on what matters.

Isn’t this the same we want for our students.  The book cites an example in which half the students in a ceramics class were told their grade would be based on quality, while the other half would be graded on quantity.  It is no surprise after researching this concept and living it in our design process that the students graded on quantity invoked more quality in the same amount of time.  It’s the old adage – you don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great!

For our students, creating a school that invokes this spirit, from the very beginning, will be imperative.  We cannot lose the rich history on how this program was developed by training our students to build on their own creative confidence.  Lessons that promote student creativity through risk-taking, trial-and-error, and collaboration should be the hallmark at these early stages of life to build true student learning…

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