International Torrance Legacy Creativity Awards Help Students Stretch Their Creative Muscles

Although society considers creativity and critical thinking two of the most important skills today, children often have limited opportunities to stretch their creative muscles. Parents and teachers have a responsibility to encourage creative children to proactively find at least one creative outlet, along with venues and/or audiences to showcase their work. With summer on its way, now’s the right time for parents and teachers to help gifted children look for ways to expand their creative horizons.

The International Torrance Legacy Creativity Awards competition is one way gifted children ages 8 to 18 can nurture their creativity in the areas of Creative Writing, Visual Arts, Music composition, and Inventions.  Judged by professionals in those fields, the competition now in its eighth year has grown to include original submissions from hundreds of students around the world, including Australia, Bahrain, China, New Zealand, Poland, Singapore, South Korea, Turkey, and the United States.

The awards honor the fundamental contributions of psychologist E. Paul Torrance (1915-2003), known as the “Father of Creativity,” who devoted his life to examining correlations between intelligence and creativity. Throughout his lifetime, Torrance wrote over 1,500 books and articles, and enabled thousands of young people around the world to realize their creative potential.  He described talents and abilities in a manifesto with which many authors, artists, musicians, and inventors still identify:

Manifesto for Children

Don't be afraid to fall in love with
something and pursue it with intensity.

Know, understand, take pride in, practice,
develop, exploit and enjoy your greatest strengths.

Learn to free yourself from the expectations of others
and to walk away from the games they impose on you.

 Free yourself to play your own game.

Find a great teacher or mentor who will help you. 

Learn the skills of interdependence.

Don't waste energy trying to be well rounded.

 Do what you love and can do well.

Students who respond to this invitation and use it as a catalyst to create new work in the fields that they love exemplify the spirit of this manifesto.

Each year, the Torrance awards provide themes to act as catalysts and supportive structure for students’ work. The 2016 themes are:

  • The Honor and the Glory
  • A Grateful Heart
  • What a Mystery!
  • Couldn’t Help Laughing
  • Journey to Forever
  • A Reluctant Adventure
  • Who Would’ve Thought
  • Exploring a New Universe

Students are encouraged to submit a poem, short story, painting, collage, print, photograph, sculpture, musical composition, or invention to reflect one or more of these themes.  For entry details, click here. The deadline for submissions is August 20, 2016.

The vision of E. Paul Torrance continues to take on height and meaning as we grow in our understanding of creativity and its vital role in advancing humankind. Parents and teachers should encourage their students to participate in the International Torrance Legacy Creativity Awards, as well as other competitions such Future Problem Solving Program International, Odyssey of the Mind, Destination Imagination, and domain-specific events. 

These venues give our gifted children a vision of what is possible for their lives and how they can contribute to the world in creative ways.

Joan Franklin Smutny is the Director of the Center for Gifted and Midwest Torrance Center for Creativity in Glenview, Illinois. The Center for Gifted, in addition to NAGC’s Creativity Network, is one of the sponsoring partners of the International Torrance Legacy Creativity Awards.

Editor's note: This is part of a series of blog posts that is collaboratively published every week by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute and National Association for Gifted Children. Each post in the series exists both here on the NAGC Blog and on Fordham's Flypaper.