What is creativity? How can it be taught?


Thor May
Brisbane 2013

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53. What is creativity? How can it be taught? How is it important? And should creative, arts and performance skills be a compulsory part of the education curriculum? (proposed by Bill & Thor)


Politicians and management gurus tell us endlessly that innovation is critical to national survival. Yet innovation requires creativity, and creativity needs a mindset which does not usually spring from accountants and process workers. In fact, the most dynamic part of many economies worldwide is (and always has been) found in arts, music, film, performance skills, inspired writing (imaginative or non-fiction), and fine design of all kinds. Should these activities be purely for an elite, or should they be funded and nurtured for everyone within the national education framework?

Educating for Creativity (Thor’s take on this..)


a) “Creativity” and “innovation” have a rainbow spread of meanings (like so many potent language terms). Sometimes they are used to mean the same thing. Sometimes something different. For example, “innovation” often refers to putting existing ideas or technology to new uses, while “creativity” might reference anything from a child’s drawing to a math solution to a new insight into, say, the nature of physical matter.


b) Regardless of the many meanings of creativity and/or innovation, their use presupposes something about the mindset of people who author these events. Firstly, such minds are open to new experience, or interpreting old experience in new ways. Secondly, creativity/innovation are not accidental, even when the particular solutions were not being looked for. That is, the people involved in them have been involved in looking for new solutions, or at least consciously alert to unexpected evidence that begged for a solution. Thirdly, the people involved usually have minds skilled, and often trained to seek new ideas in a methodical, yet flexible way.


c) Having an open mindset may be partly a matter of genetic predisposition (though not IQ). However that potential is hugely influenced by nurture, in parental child raising, peer influence, and both formal and informal educational environments.


d) In the senses referred to be c) it makes a lot of sense to refer to “educating for creativity/innovation”. It makes sense for any well functioning civil society to fund such education. The difficulty with this issue is not whether to do it, but how to do it effectively.


e) Regardless of political rhetoric about creativity/innovation, all institutions and most individuals resist change. There are many reasons for such resistance, but fundamentally, most people want to operate within a predictable environment (even if it is dysfunctional), most will defend their comfort zone to the death, whatever power, authority and security they have is defined by the existing environment, and most are extremely sensitive to any possible financial loss (there aren’t many heroes left after they get a mortgage). Thus unless the creativity/innovation seems entirely harmless (e.g. perhaps art, music or even literature) it will almost certainly encounter great resistance. This is true in industry, in government and (very much so) in educational institutions.




Background Reading Links


The following links are unlikely to be the best available references for this topic, but they contain enough information and ideas to form the basis for a solid discussion (as opposed to offering random unresearched opinions):


1. Educating for Creativity


a) Yes, You Can Teach and Assess Creativity!



b)How To Unlock Creativity



c) Five Principles of Creativity



d) What Is Innovation?



e) Teaching For Creativity: Two Dozen Tips




 2. Music in Education


a) The Value of Music in Early Education



b) The value of music education is being questioned like never before ..    http://www.childrensmusicworkshop.com/advocacy/musicisbasic.html


c) Playing an instrument helps tune the brain



d) TEDxSydney - Richard Gill - The Value of Music Education



e) DISCUSS: The Value Of Music Education




3. Art in Education


a) Why Art Education?



b) Art Education Australia



c) AEA Response to the draft Australian Curriculum: The Arts:




d) What are the educational values associated with studying art?



e) Art education




4. Design in Education


a)The creative citizen : understanding the value of design edu



b) Big question: how much do you value a formal web design education?



c) The Educational Value of Children designing their own games



d) The Strategic Value of Design




5. Dance in Education


a) What Can Dance Teach Us about Learning?



b) Dance education



c) Why Dance?



d) Standards for Learning and Teaching Dance in the Arts: Ages 5-18




6. Drama in Education


a) Why Teach Drama? A Defense of the Craft



b) The Benefits of Using Drama in the ESL/EFL Classroom



c) Process Drama in Education




7. Writing in Education


a) Labor offers $12m lifeline to halt decline in Australian publishing



b) Why American Students Can’t Write



c) The Writing Revolution



d) Can you teach creative writing?



e) Why Digital Writing Matters in Education



f) Top Five Reasons Writing is Important for Kids



g) Lost for words




8. General Fine Arts Education


a) The Importance of Fine Arts Education



b) Arts policy: where do Labor, the Coalition and the Greens st



c) Creative Australia - Oz Govt







What is Creativity? (c) Thor May 2013


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