Scott Barry Kaufman
Scientific Director of The Imagination Institute
“With cutting-edge science and timeless wisdom, Carolyn Gregoire and Scott Barry Kaufman shine a light on the habits, practices and techniques that can help us tap into our deepest creativity.”—Arianna Huffington
Scott Barry Kaufman is a cognitive psychologist who studies the development of intelligence, creativity, and personality. In his book Ungifted: Intelligence Redefined, he takes a look at why our society is so obsessed with measuring intelligence, instead of using the test results to inform tailored interventions to help all people succeed. He is the Scientific Director of The Imagination Institute and a researcher in the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania, where he investigates the measurement and development of imagination. His new book about creativity and imagination is Wired to Create: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Creative Mind (co-authored with Carolyn Gregoire). Martin Seligman calls him the “leading empirical creativity researcher of his generation.”
From Evaluation to Inspiration: Why the Culture of the Classroom is Broken, and How to Fix It
Severe ear infections rendered three-year-old Scott Barry Kaufman nearly deaf. As a result, he needed a few extra seconds to process things in real time—which landed him in a special education classroom. Inspired by his personal experience, Kaufman, now a cognitive psychologist, has made it his mission to debunk traditional methods of measuring intelligence. Why do we have such an obsessive need to compare students? Why do we insist on labeling and categorizing everyone?
In his talks, Kaufman encourages us—and specifically educators, school psychologists, parents, and caregivers—to move towards a culture of inspiration, where we only compare people to their past and future selves. He argues for intelligent testing as opposed to intelligence testing: deep evaluation that focuses on finding out a person’s strengths and weaknesses, and the characteristics that make them unique. And he advocates for thinking about talent and potential as moving targets—they’re not inherent qualities we’re born with; they’re based on our engagement with something that is meaningful to us.
When students are inspired or activated, they come alive. Instead of using testing to sort gifted from ungifted students, Kaufman encourages audiences to take a holistic approach to evaluation that benefits all students. It’s time to focus on a practical approach to individual needs that enables students to unlock their potential and reach their goals, at school and beyond.
Business Intelligence: The Creative Guide to Employability, Success, and Happiness
New technology, automation, and AI will soon mean millions of jobs—even white-collar, graduate-level jobs—become obsolete. Financial crises, resource depletion, disruption, and the expanding global marketplace make secure, meaningful work precarious at best. And new research shows, consistently, that skills and values conventionally lionized in business (logical, mathematical, combined with an ability to be cut-throat, even ruthless) are increasingly counterproductive to success—or are at least insufficient to lead or innovate in today’s economic climate.
To adapt and achieve in the new world of business, we have to embrace a whole new set of ideals. With cognitive psychologist Scott Barry Kaufman, author of Wired to Create, we need to harness the power of new creative intelligence: a revised definition of what it means to thrive, flourish, and tackle our world’s most challenging opportunities.
In this research-driven keynote, Kaufman explains how our current fixation on standardized test scores, IQ, productivity, and other task-related skills leave much to be desired. Instead, we need to stoke imaginations, reward and encourage creativity, and foster deep, reflective thinking. We need to show how a wandering, divergent mind can open unforeseen doorways; how exposure to different cultures and practices can be a gateway to empathy and tolerance; and how incorporating our emotional lives into our work can mean living actually meaningful lives. In today’s economy, those who succeed—and those who retain jobs that provide fulfillment and happiness—will have creative imagination. And with Scott Barry Kaufman, entrepreneurs, innovators, and leaders are discovering how to develop their own.
Creative Classrooms: How to Stoke Imaginative Intelligence in Students
Today’s teachers are often saddled with institutional constraints on how, and what, to teach. Traditional pedagogy means standardized testing, task-related skills, and other cognitive-based curricula take center stage. But that often means soft-skills, the arts, and imaginative subjects are first on the chopping block when cutbacks invariably come down.
If students are our future, then it stands to reason that we should be preparing them for the realities of twenty-first century living. It should stand to reason that we should teach them not just left-brain competencies, but the whole intellectual spectrum. We should be teaching the whole student: fueling their emotional and imaginative lives, feeding their curiosities and dreams. According to cognitive psychologist Scott Barry Kaufman, students who dream big—those who can imagine different, better, more satisfying lives—have a better chance of living them. And if we can’t equip kids with the ability to imagine a rewarding future, then we’re inhibiting their very ability to have one.
We need to open a space for play and experimentation in our classrooms. Encouraging students to be creative, to think differently, leads to creative behavior: novel problem-solving and divergent solution-mapping. If we allow students to let their minds wander, to daydream constructively, we can reinforce the intrinsic link between internal reflection and great ideas—and the link between introspection, imagination, and compassion, or living with greater empathy. With cutting-edge research and insights from his new book Wired to Create, Kaufman shows us how a renewed embrace of intellectual curiosity can prepare students for rewarding lives worth living.
The Science of Creativity: Innovation through Imagination
Imagination is far more important than most of us realize. It is the foundation of so much that we look for in business, art, and life. It is the fuel for creativity, which is the driving force of innovation. Scott Barry Kaufman is a leading researcher in the field of imagination psychology. In this talk, he takes us deep inside the field to show us what we can do to tap into our—and our employees’—capacity for creative thinking. Each person needs to unlock their ingenuity individually, says Kaufman. Only then will the group—the team, the students, the company—become truly creative, and innovative, thinkers.
Bring Out the Best: How to Create a Workplace Culture of Success and Passion
How can we get the best out of our employees? What do we need to change in the way we assess performance or evaluate potential talent? Cognitive psychologist Scott Barry Kaufman explores the workplace from his unique perspective. He brings concrete evidence and advice to HR professionals, managers, CEOs, and business owners and introduces his concept of a workplace culture of “harmonious passion,” which can only be achieved when we begin to match people’s skill sets, interests, and values to their work. Instead of relying on traditional assessment procedures, which are often non-predictive of success in a job, Kaufman speaks about evaluation and hiring practices that are more conducive to the way talent actually works. He also zeroes in on the importance of engaging employees with something that is personally meaningful to them, and encourages audiences to move away from a culture of competition to a place where employees can feel their own unique value and a sense of pride in their work. And, if you’re curious about how to encourage a “flow state” in your workers, Kaufman reveals the key principles to this ideal state of work that promotes the most divergent, flowing, and associative ideas. There is no five-step foolproof script to a perfect workplace, says Kaufman, but with the right environmental conditions, and a focus on supporting individual values, skills, and talents, you can bring out the best, most successful behavior from your employees.
Scott's visit went very well. He is a delightful guest and an engaging and very bright speaker. Loved his sense of humor, his spontaneity, his ability to "play" in a room full of academics, and his ease of being. He was so generous with his time and took our playful banter with great humor and ease. Really, I can't say enough about how fortunate we are to have had Scott visit and present.
Fraser Valley Regional Library
Scott Barry Kaufman is an inspiring speaker with an impressive ability to go with the flow of a highly engaged audience. His personal story and sense of humour ground his in-depth knowledge and research to make for an enlightening yet approachable talk. Highly recommended for parents, educators and anyone who cares about the future of our kids!
Wired to Create: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Creative Mind
Based on the authors’ wildly popular Huffington Post article “18 Things That Creative People Do Differently” (which generated 5 million views and 500,000 Facebook shares in one week), this well-researched and engaging book uncovers what we know about creativity, and what anyone can do to enhance this essential aspect of their lives and work.
Filled with insights from the lives of well-known artists and visionaries, along with scientific findings and practical advice, this smart, lively and inspiring book reveals these creativity-sparking habits:
Taking Time for Solitude
Seeking out New Experiences
Nurturing Emotional Sensitivity
Turning Challenges into Opportunities for Growth
Making Time for Play
Listening to Intuition
Challenging the Status Quo
What Quiet did for introverts Wired to Create will do for creative individuals, along with anyone who aspires to be one—that is, it will help them see themselves in a positive light and enhance their strengths, even though they are not always the most conventional ones.
Ungifted: Intelligence Redefined
Child prodigies. Gifted and Talented Programs. Perfect 2400s on the SAT. Sometimes it feels like the world is conspiring to make the rest of us feel inadequate. Those children tapped as possessing special abilities will go on to achieve great things, while the rest of us have little chance of realizing our dreams. Right? In Ungifted, cognitive psychologist Scott Barry Kaufman—who was relegated to special education as a child—sets out to show that the way we interpret traditional metrics of intelligence is misguided. Kaufman explores the latest research in genetics and neuroscience, as well as evolutionary, developmental, social, positive, and cognitive psychology, to challenge the conventional wisdom about the childhood predictors of adult success. He reveals that there are many paths to greatness, and argues for a more holistic approach to achievement that takes into account each young person’s personal goals, individual psychology, and developmental trajectory. In so doing, he increases our appreciation for the intelligence and diverse strengths of prodigies, savants, and late bloomers, as well as those with dyslexia, autism, schizophrenia, and ADHD. Combining original research, anecdotes, and a singular compassion, Ungifted proves that anyone—even those without readily observable gifts at any single moment in time—can become great.
The Philosophy of Creativity: New Essays
Creativity pervades human life. It is the mark of individuality, the vehicle of self-expression, and the engine of progress in every human endeavor. It also raises a wealth of neglected and yet evocative philosophical questions: What is the role of consciousness in the creative process? How does the audience for a work for art influence its creation? How can creativity emerge through childhood pretending? Do great works of literature give us insight into human nature? Can a computer program really be creative? How do we define creativity in the first place? Is it a virtue? What is the difference between creativity in science and art? Can creativity be taught?
The new essays that comprise The Philosophy of Creativity take up these and other key questions and, in doing so, illustrate the value of interdisciplinary exchange. Written by leading philosophers and psychologists involved in studying creativity, the essays integrate philosophical insights with empirical research.
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