The New Smart: How Nurturing Creativity Will Help Children Thrive

“In their world, neither static definitions of intelligence nor traditional ideas of training stand us on good stead. Rather, we need to reframe the question, given what lies before us, and come to terms with a different answer posited in different language.”

Dr. Terry Roberts

Acclaim for The New Smart

If you want a view of the challenges that face the young people of the future, and the ways in which we may help those youth to meet those challenges over the course of a lifetime of learning and a lifetime of work, you will gain much from reading and pondering Terry Roberts’ book.

 –Howard Gardner, Harvard University


Noted educator and novelist Terry Roberts performs in The New Smart a high-wire trifecta: sketching an insightful/persuasive portrait of life in the mid-21st century; identifying traits and skills essential to navigating that transformed world; and listing the educational moves we must make now to enable today’s young people to thrive a generation or two hence.  This indispensable book will be required reading on my syllabus—and that of many other college and high-school educators who teach classes on society, politics, education, and culture.


–Rogan Kersh, Provost and Professor of Politics & International Affairs
Wake Forest University


The New Smart is a must read for any parent who has questioned whether the current educational system is really preparing our kids for modern life. Dr. Roberts avoids tired clichés and meaningless buzzwords and instead explains how creativity – and not “smarts” – is what our schools should be cultivating. So many of us have long thought that standardized tests don’t really capture the “whole child,” but Dr. Roberts takes it one step further. He explains how this constant push towards reading and math specialization (and its accompanying testing) not only provides an incomplete picture of a student in the short term, but also creates a student who is ill prepared for adapting to the job market and world community in the long term.  This book shows parents that pressing children to become high achievers in “core subjects” is no longer a clear path to future success, and instead success (as it is going to be defined over the next 30 years) will flow from encouraging learning across and between diverse areas.  

–Julie Heintz Cho, Parent


The New Smart, by Dr. Terry Roberts, is a visionary book for parents that clarifies what it is that our children need from schools. Rather than fixating myopically on high test scores in narrow subject areas~ which no more measure what’s important for lifelong success than their results accurately represent our children’s strengths ~ we ought to be asking our schools to teach for success in the world of today and tomorrow. Clear, convincing, and practical, The New Smart is a must-read for concerned parents who believe in advocating for their children’s education.

–Wendy Ikoku, Parent and Educator


In his latest book educator Terry Roberts sets out to lead into evidence that intelligence will be insufficient when coping with future problems and challenges. Instead, creativity will be a vital ability in an ever changing society. In an interesting and entertaining way, he demonstrates the chief characteristics of the creative person, how creativity is developed and what schools and educators can do to foster the ability to be creative in students. Roberts’ book is strikingly universal, advocating the ideal of what is called Bildung in Germany, paideia in Greece, or bildning in Sweden – the general education where critical and creative thinking is guided by a life-long quest of learning, a life attitude also advocated in ancient Persia, Arabia, and China. However, as Roberts shows us, this is not a historical ideal, but a highly contemporary global necessity if we are to help today’s children and students to cope with the unknown, unstable, and unpredictable future.

— Ann S. Pihlgren, Ignite Research Institute, Sweden and Spain


In the face of increased educational efficiency through standardization, Terry Roberts’ The New Smart provides the antidote: “Every step we take toward further quantification and standardization renders the work we do in school less interesting, less inspired, and less authentic.” Beginning with an examination of research and writings about creativity, Roberts identifies six critical characteristics of the creative individual and explains exactly why creativity matters, “Creators … change the way we view the world.” They are the innovators. Fortunately, Roberts not only confronts current trends in education, he also provides a pathway to increase creativity in schools. He details schools where students have opportunities to take risks, experience failure, reflect, and try again, schools that value dialogue, authenticity, and experience over “speed and volume.” It is tempting for educational leaders to subscribe to hyper data-driven, reactionary educational trends that come at the expense of the individual child. That is why it is more important than ever to listen to educators like Terry Roberts who consistently remind us that there is another, richer way to educate our children. This text is having immediate impacts on my approach to curriculum and instruction in my district.

–Eric Grant, Parent and Educator


The New Smart is an absolute read for anyone engaging with learners of any capacity. Dr. Roberts provides a clear picture of the essential focus every human will need to succeed in future global economies and networks. As an educator and parent it has been particularly beneficial for deepening my understandings around opportunities and supports for all learners. In an era of increased educational standardization, The New Smart contains essential tools for understanding how we can cultivate personalized development as the necessary path forward, if we genuinely want to provide freedom of growth and opportunity for those who will be the future global citizens.  

–Nick Steinmetz, Educator, Parent, and Life-Long Learner