Thoughts on Creativity

Wednesday, 30 November 2011   |   Creative Thinking

ThinkingI've been on my quest to promote and encourage creativity and creative thinking, to help people be creative, for just over 2 years now.  CreativityGames has been a part of that journey for just over a year.  I thought it was about time to take a step back and reflect a bit on how my understanding and appreciation of creativity has changed over that time.  Read on to see some of the things I've learned and to share your thoughts as well.

Misunderstood

One of the things I see over and over again is that people do want to be creative.  They just don't realise that they want to be creative.  To many people, being creative is something that artists do.  They are not an artist, so creativity is not something they need.  They see creativity as artistic creativity.  I think schools play a large part in creating this conundrum.  They have an arts department and this is where creativity is supposed to exist (In many school systems this department is called 'Creative Arts').  It's easy for other departments to not consider integrating creativity into their curriculums as there is another department who is responsible for that.  Much potential for developing creative thinking in schools is missed as a result.  This is a shame as I believe if we incorporated creative thinking into the school curriculum across the board we would teach students to think, to actually think well and this would have profound benefits.

  • Students would become much better at solving problems.
  • The course would be more interesting. 
  • We all win as more people would create more fantastic things.

Creativity is all around you.  It's just that a lot of the time it's not called that.

Underestimated

People have a tendency to overestimate or underestimate their abilities.  Often by quite a large degree.  Creativity is one of those traits that people underestimate.  When you can surprise someone into the realisation that they are quite creative they tend to run with it and put it to great use. 

In my classes I use the creativity games you'll find on this site all the time.  You'll get a student that sits there and you can tell by the look on their face they believe this to be a waste of time.  I'll prod them a bit to provide an answer and they'll usually resist.  They'll complain they can't come up with anything.  I have started the ball rolling though.  More often than not a little later they will come up with a rather good answer.  And when they do,  their eyes light up.  Direct that energy towards the task at hand and you're onto a winner.

The games are a great way to develop creative thinking but they are also a valuable tool for showing people just how creative they really are.

Long Term

Creativity is a long term thing.  This does not sit well with our instant gratification, always on, ever increasingly paced world.  Some people will tell you that the answer is to find better ways to realise creativity.  I think the better solution is to fight the trend and slow things down.  We are all creative and we are all capable of increasing our creative ability.   You can't expect instant results.  Don't be discouraged by this.  Creativity is something you really can't measure (some will dispute that but that's another argument).  A lot of really talented creative people spend much time thinking and reflecting and just tinkering.  It seems a bit counterintuitive but the best way to get ahead, creatively, is to slow down.

These are some of the more interesting characteristics I have uncovered in the pursuit of greater creativity.  What insights or observations have you encountered?

 

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