Creativity is a buzz word these days. Educators and CEOs are both talking about innovation. People say they want schools that celebrate, reward and even develop the skill of creative thinking. Ken Robinson is now a household name. Books like The Tipping Point are best-sellers, which encourage people to make connections between events and behaviors they would not otherwise consider. Ted Talks dedicates an entire channel to creativity. Check out this great playlist on Creativity. So, what is creative thinking?
First stop in defining anything…well, what does our dictionary say about creativity? Merriam-Webster.com states:
“Ability to produce something new through imaginative skill, whether a new solution to a problem, a new method or device, or a new artistic object or form. The term generally refers to a richness of ideas and originality of thinking. Psychological studies of highly creative people have shown that many have a strong interest in apparent disorder, contradiction, and imbalance, which seem to be perceived as challenges. Such individuals may possess an exceptionally deep, broad, and flexible awareness of themselves. Studies also show that intelligence has little correlation with creativity; thus, a highly intelligent person may not be very creative. See alsogenius; gifted child.”
Let’s highlight the key words in this definition.
- “New” – The first time we are seeing or doing something. Novel.
- “Imaginative” – Our use of our mind, subconscious or with awareness, to develop ideas.
- “Skill” – Something you can practice or develop.
This word skill is especially important to me. We’ve discussed before at Artist Strong whether art is a skill or a talent. Skill is something everyone can develop. Some may be better at one skill or another but everyone has the opportunity to learn it.
The rest of the definition moves into notions of personality and identity. While I’m not sure I would argue creativity is solely a human trait or quality, this definition implies we find it an integral part of human nature. It helps us understand what it means to be human? How much more fundamental can we go than that?!
Google Images search for creativity immediately serves me a cliched image (irony, anyone?) of a light-bulb glowing. That is our most used metaphor for a new idea. So, within creativity we need to acknowledge that it is bound by idea and concept. Creativity lies in the conceptual realm.
So, what is creative thinking? It is associated with words like new, imaginative, skill, and idea. But, what does this mean? How can we measure this “skill,” which by its very nature is filled with subjectivity?
I went to workshop by NESA on developing rubrics and since then I’ve been thinking about developing a rubric for creativity or for creative process in the arts. As you all know I’m a goal sett and well, how do I develop my creativity if I don’t have a tool to measure my progress? As luck would have it, while doing work in my other life as educational administrator, I was given the very tool to do this!
This VALUE rubric was developed by the Association of American Colleges and Universities. What an awesome starting point for defining and measuring creative thinking!
BE COURAGEOUSLY CREATIVE: Do you feel this rubric is missing any category or quality of creative thinking? How can we use this to better our creative practice?
I can and may be wrong but I thought to throw this out here.
Probably playing a smaller role in creative thinking, is having a curiosity and/or an affinity for a discipline with active class participation. I believe these qualities brings to the student or group a desire to dissect and define what is being read, seen or heard within and beyond their comprehension level. In other words beyond high school coursework and not merely producing the bare minimum within college/university. Leading from their interests, students are better equipped and more likely to initiate further reaction towards material. Self-motivation brings on creative thinking and application to the point of the best solution and/or product.
The student/group broaches a topic question or chooses a subject while initiating class conversations or group critique which can serve to further the original assignment/project while allowing the student/group a greater role in self-instruction. While an instructor sometimes should provide direction and input in order for mastery to be achieved at desired levels, autonomy is essential in a students creative thinking process.
Affinity/curiosity/active participation can possibly be one element in assessing creative thinking through participation levels and association dynamics between student/instructor, student/student or student/group.
I could hazard a guess but I’m not completely sure on how one would break up this hypothetical category or quality into each scale value.
Thank you ArtistThink, the article was really interesting!
I believe as families and educators we can do things to either instill curiosity in young people, who then take that into adulthood, or stifle it. People generally get more skillful at the things they enjoy doing, because by virtue of their interest they are willing to spend more time on it. Some people are more self-motivated than others, but I wonder how much that can be cultivated in young people?
Thank you for reading my work and I hope you have a lovely day!