Creative and critical thinking in elementary and secondary school instructional programs can no longer be added to the end of the day. A “challenging activity” found at the end of a textbook, assigned to those students that finish their daily assignments early often serves as “enrichment”. Nor can creative and critical thinking activities be limited to students traditionally identified as “gifted”. With the current focus on common core, mastery of standards, and 21st century work force skills, teaching for thinking is more than just a catch phrase in our classrooms; it is a necessity and often a requirement.
Forty-two years of classroom research on the Talent Unlimited (TU) model demonstrate its effectiveness in enhancing the creative and critical thinking skills of K-12 students. Twenty two specific skills define the research based cognitive strategies of productive thinking, decision making, planning, forecasting, and communication that students use in problem solving. These skills, combined with academic skills and knowledge, are applied to the curriculum to enrich and enhance students’ creative thinking in all areas of instruction. A major strength of the TU model is its effectiveness with groups of students diverse in intellectual ability and achievement, socioeconomic level, and interests.
Classroom research beginning in 1971 and continuing today, links Calvin Taylor’s multiple talent theory (1968) with practice in creative and critical thinking. In the TU model, the traditional academic talent helps students gain knowledge in the core content areas, while the five other talents; productive thinking, decision making, forecasting, planning and communication assist students in processing or using their knowledge to create new solutions to problems. The five thinking talents plus the academic talent represent some, but not all, of the ways that people express intelligence.
Talents Unlimited is a staff development model designed to help teachers identify and nurture every student’s multiple thinking talents. The TU model engages teachers in both general education and special education, including gifted education, in learning how to design activities that incorporate the talent processes in all subject areas. The goal of TU is to help teachers gain and maintain the necessary knowledge, skills, and attitudes for successfully implementing the multiple talent approach to teaching in their classrooms.
The training of teachers in the recognition and nurturing of students’ multiple thinking abilities
The development of materials to support the integration of the thinking processes into the regular curricula of the classroom
The enhancement of student performance in the multiple talent skills, including academic achievement, in creative thinking, and in self-concept.
It is imperative in today’s world, to ensure that our students are prepared for a global job market and economy, and that the United States continues to be a world leader, that improvement in the education field focuses on developing the talents of all students to become creative entrepreneurs, complex thinkers, and divergent problem solvers. Educators must give students the skills and tools necessary to identify and enhance their strengths, interests and abilities. By engaging students in the processes of creative and critical thinking skills, Talents Unlimited can be an effective vehicle for delivering these tools.
The mission of Talents Unlimited is to improve student performance in creative and critical thinking as well as academic knowledge and self esteem, thereby fostering success in world-of-work thought processes by integrating these behaviors into any content/curriculum area of education.
The vision of Talents Unlimited, Inc. is to be the teacher’s resource for empowering all educators to identify and nurture the multiple thought process of all students, while enhancing valuable learning skills in all children.