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Dr. E. Paul Torrance

Dr. E. Paul Torrance

E. Paul Torrance was a pioneer in creativity research and education for more than 50 years. He was a monumental figure who has helped make a better world through his lifetime focus on the development of creative potential of individuals of all abilities and ages. He produced over 1800 publications and presentations on creativity (Millar, 1997).

Torrance chose to define creativity as a process because he thought if we understood the creative process, we could predict what kinds of person could master the process, what kind of climate made it grow and what products would be involved (Torrance, 1995). Torrance created a battery of tests of creative thinking abilities for use from kindergarten through graduate and professional education. The Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking (TTCT) are the most widely used tests of creative talent in the United States and have been translated into over 30 different languages. The TTCT have been standardized and published and France, Italy and China. There is very little racial, socioeconomic or cultural bias in the TTCT (Torrance, 1988).

In longitudinal studies (1958-2000), Torrance found that students identified as creatively gifted but not intellectually gifted (IQ of 130+), out achieved the intellectually in adulthood. He found that characteristics of the creative thinking abilities differ from those of the abilities involved in intelligence and logical reasoning. In fact, the use of intelligence tests to identify gifted students misses about 70% of those who are equally gifted using creativity criteria identified in tests such as the TTCT (Torrance, 1995).

Torrance’s research has demonstrated that a variety of techniques for training in creative problem solving produce significant creative growth without interfering with traditional kinds of educational achievement. Creative growth seems to be the greatest and most predictable when deliberate, direct teaching of creative thinking skills are involved. Torrance believed that each person is unique and has particular strengths that are of value and must be respected; therefore, education must be built upon strengths rather than weaknesses.

It takes courage to be creative. Just as soon as you have a new idea, you are a minority of one. Torrance found that learning and thinking creatively takes place in the process of sensing difficulties, problem, and gaps in information; making guesses or formulating hypotheses about these deficiencies; in testing these guesses and possibility, revising and retesting them; and finally in communicating the results. Vital human needs are involved in each of these four stages. If we sense that something is missing or wrong our tension is aroused and we become uncomfortable. To relieve our tension we try to make guesses in order to fill gaps and make connections. We know that our guesses may be wrong, but we find early on if we are correct. Thus we are driven to test our hypotheses, to modify them and to correct our errors. Once we make a discovery, we want to tell somebody about it. It is natural for humans to learn creatively.

Manifesto for Adults

Manifesto for Children

By: E. Paul Torrance

Being a Beyonder means doing your very best, going beyond where you have been before, and going beyond where others have gone.

  • They are tolerant of mistakes by themselves and others.
  • The beyonders take delight in deep thinking.
  • They are able to feel comfortable as a minority of one.
  • They love the work that they do and do it well.
  • They have a sense of mission and have the courage to be creative.
  • They do not waste needless energy trying to be well-rounded.
E. Paul Torrance, shown here in the mid-'80s, spent most of his career studying and encouraging students' creativity.

Manifesto for Children

By: E. Paul Torrance

  1. Don’t be afraid to fall in love with something and pursue it with intensity.
  2. Know, understand, take pride in, practice, develop, exploit, and enjoy your greatest strengths.
  3. Learn to free yourself from the expectations of others and to walk away from the games them impose on you. Free yourself to play your own game.
  4. Find a great teacher or mentor who will help you.
  5. Don’t waste energy trying to be well-rounded.
  6. Do what you love and can do well.
  7. Learn the skills of interdependence.
E. Paul Torrance

Torrance Quotes

“One of my first challenges was to find some way of measuring creative talent, because I knew that the key to progress in any field was measurement.”

“Creativity defies precise definition. This conclusion does not bother me at all. In fact, I am quite happy with it. Creativity is almost infinite. It involves every sense – sight, smell, hearing, feeling, taste and even perhaps the extrasensory. Much of it is unseen, nonverbal and unconscious. Therefore, even if we had a precise concept of creativity, I am certain we would have difficulty putting it into words.”

“Don’t waste a lot of expensive energy in trying to do things for which you have little ability or love. Do what you can do well and do what you love, giving freely of the infinity of your greatest strengths and most intense loves.”

“Outstanding creative achievement involves being different, testing known limits, attempting difficult jobs, making honest mistakes and responding to challenge.”

“People prefer to learn creatively – by exploring, questioning, experimenting, manipulating, re-arranging things, testing and modifying, listening, looking, feeling – and then thinking about it – incubating.”

“Rich, colorful and exciting imagery has long been regarded by scholars as the foundation or mainspring of all creativity.”

“Humor and a ‘sense of humor’ are basically creative and are themselves facilitative of further creativity.”

“You need courage to be creative. Just as soon as you have a new idea, you are a minority of one. And being a minority of one is uncomfortable – it takes courage!”

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