Learning to be Creative

Our thought for today is about creativity and learning how to be creative. How important is creativity? Can it be taught, or systematically learnt? Do we all have a spark of creativity within us, and an instinct to be creative?

At no point during my school career did any teacher suggest to me that learning how to be creative was important, let alone essential. It simply wasn’t on the agenda. I suspect this remains true for most students today. Nobody tells them that they are creative beings and that their goal is to discover in which areas they really excel as creative human beings – a process of finding their ‘element’, to use Sir Ken Robinson’s parlance.

I believe this attitude to students and to schooling derives from a historic and very fundamental belief that as far as most of the ‘plebs’ are concerned, to use a certain politician’s parlance, it simply isn’t as issue. Only really ‘exceptional’ people bring a creative spark to their lives and their work. Most of us simply get on with our mundane lives and our routine jobs – patrolling our beats and guarding the gates of Downing Street, metaphorically speaking.

3Di’s belief is that schools must ensure that learning to be creative and finding the creative element in every child ought to be central to schooling and learning.

This week we came across this article on the website of Psychology Today:

The Creative Personality


Creative individuals are remarkable for their ability to adapt to almost any situation and to make do with whatever is at hand to reach their goals.

[This makes it abundantly clear that creativity is an essential life skill, and not some kind of optional extra.]

By Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Creativity is a central source of meaning in our lives. Most of the things that are interesting, important, and human are the result of creativity. What makes us different from apes—our language, values, artistic expression, scientific understanding, and technology—is the result of individual ingenuity that was recognized, rewarded, and transmitted through learning.

When we’re creative, we feel we are living more fully than during the rest of life. The excitement of the artist at the easel or the scientist in the lab comes close to the ideal fulfillment we all hope to get from life, and so rarely do. Perhaps only sex, sports, music, and religious ecstasy – even when these experiences remain fleeting and leave no trace – provide a profound sense of being part of an entity greater than ourselves. But creativity also leaves an outcome that adds to the richness and complexity of the future.

Here are the 10 antithetical traits often present in creative people that are integrated with each other in a dialectical tension.

1. Creative people have a great deal of physical energy, but they’re also often quiet and at rest. They work long hours, with great concentration, while projecting an aura of freshness and enthusiasm. This suggests a superior physical endowment, a genetic advantage. Yet it is surprising how often individuals who in their seventies and eighties exude energy and health remember childhoods plagued by illness. It seems that their energy is internally generated, due more to their focused minds than to the superiority of their genes.

This does not mean that creative people are hyperactive, always “on.” In fact, they rest often and sleep a lot. The important thing is that they control their energy; it’s not ruled by the calendar, the dock, an external schedule. When necessary, they can focus it like a laser beam; when not, creative types immediately recharge their batteries. They consider the rhythm of activity followed by idleness or reflection very important for the success of their work. This is not a bio-rhythm inherited with their genes; it was learned by trial and error as a strategy for achieving their goals.

For the other 9 traits and the rest of the article click on the link above.

The challenge for teachers is to consider the implications of this researcher’s comments in terms of their classroom practice. Is it possible for every classroom teacher, every specialist teacher, every teaching assistant and every pupil mentor to work in ways that enable students to understand and practice the skills, crafts and mental habits of creativity? If not, why not? – and what can we do about it?

About 3D Eye

Gary Foskett and Clare Blackhall are educationalists, writers and consultants. We work with schools and other organisations who share our vision of how schools, businesses, etc should work in the 21st Century. We also run courses and contribute to conferences - speaking about our three dimensional model of intelligences and how schools, colleges and universities can develop the full potential of all their staff and students. We also offer consultancy for businesses and public sector organisations to support staff training and organisational change and development. For more detailed information read our blog at https://3diassociates.wordpress.com/ or see our website at www.3diassociates.com.
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