Synopses & Reviews
Companies and organizations everywhere cite creativity as the most desirable - and elusive - leadership quality of the future. Yet scores measuring creativity among American children have been on the wane for decades. A specialist in creative leadership, professor James Haywood Rolling, Jr. knows firsthand that the classroom is a key to either unlocking or blocking the critical imagination. He argues that todays schools, with their focus on rote learning and test-taking, work to stymie creativity, leaving children cut off from their natural impulses and boxed in by low expectations. Drawing on cutting-edge research in the realms of biological swarm theory, systems theory, and complexity theory, Rolling shows why group collaboration and adaptive social networking make us both smarter and more creative, and how we can design education and workplace practices around these natural principles, instead of pushing a limited focus on individual achievement that serves neither children nor their future colleagues, managers and mentors. The surprising truth is that the future will be pioneered by the collective problem-solvers, making this a must-read for business leaders, educators, and anyone else concerned with nurturing creative intelligence and innovative habits in todays youth.
In this book, James Rolling challenges commonplace notions of creativity as the inspired activity of select, uniquely endowed individuals. He advocates for restoration of the vital and contagious possibilities of collaborative ventures to restore potential to communities and the individuals who draw upon their shared resources. This wonderfully readable and researched text takes its readers by the hand and points to what we are, and what we can be, as a people whose destinies intertwine and affect one another in countless complex ways.
—Christine Marmé Thompson, Penn State University
In Swarm Intelligence, James Rolling takes on many long- held beliefs about creative behavior as an individual human capacity, and instead offers a picture of creativity as a swarming enterprise of social activity, common impulses, and fluid systems for shaping our lives in meaningful ways. This activity is found in private or public spaces, businesses, communities, and places of collective learning. It is not surprising that the evidence of this phenomenon is found in abundance in the arts. Rolling paints an optimistic, yet convincing picture of how we can see things differently as we look to our common futures.
—Graeme Sullivan, PhD, Director, Penn State School of Visual Arts
A surprising look at the true origins of creativity, urging more group collaboration, and social networking, in the pursuit of innovation
CEOs around the world rank creativity as the most desirable leadership quality of the future. US employers rate innovation and problem solving as in-demand skills for workers and report a shortage of job candidates that measure up. Yet, our schools are increasingly turning into educational environments that stymie creativity—leaving children cut off from their natural impulses and boxed in by expectations. In Swarm Intelligence, Rolling argues that we need to turn our classrooms—and workplaces—into crucibles for collective creativity. Drawing on cutting-edge research in the realms of biological swarm theory, systems theory, and complexity theory and writing in an accessible narrative style, Rolling shows why working in groups makes us both smarter and more creative, and how we can put these principles in practice at the earliest stages of life, to develop the next generation of capable leaders. He argues that this model, rather than the pursuit of individual achievement, promises the greatest potential for the next generation, both as learners and as a nation.
About the Author
James Haywood Rolling, Jr. is the chair of Art Education and a dual associate professor in Art Education and Teaching and Leadership at Syracuse University. He has served on the Board of Directors of the National Art Education Association, and is the author of over 25 articles, nine book chapters, and two books on the subjects of the arts, education, creativity and human identity. He lives with his wife Me'Shae near Syracuse, New York.