Robert E. Franken in his book Human Motivation defines creativity “as the tendency to generate or recognize ideas, alternatives, or possibilities that may be useful in solving problems, communicating with others, and entertaining ourselves and others.”
If this is what makes a creative person could it really be that some of us are born to be more creatively gifted than others?
Research shows that everybody is creative
In school, all those who can write and draw beautiful pictures are considered creative. But research shows that everybody is creative. In fact, we are all extremely creative.
In case you have doubts about your own creativity there are scientific studies to prove it. American neurologist Alice Flaherty in her book The Midnight Disease, talks about the neural basis of creativity:
“A creative idea will be defined simply as one that is both novel and useful (or influential) in a particular social setting.”
Flaherty explains further that this applies to every field including business, programming, and mathematics as well as the more traditional “creative” fields, such as drawing or music. And yet, there is still a very distinct process behind it.
Our brain and creativity
When we are doing something creatively what is actually active in our brain? That is not easy to classify. Researchers Siyuan Liu and Allen Braun did research study on the topic by tracking the brain activity of freestyle rappers.
They found something interesting. Some of the brain areas that we use everyday are totally switched off when we are being creative, whereas others we don’t use everyday are active.
The medial prefrontal cortex showed increased activity during improvisation and lower activity in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex.
Braun says in his findings that ‘executive functions’ are relaxed to let more uncensored processes and ordinary de-focused attention to happen. And that might be the characteristic of creativity.
So, the part of our brain that we use to make decisions is mostly immobile. The part that is accountable to learn organization, circumstances, actions and arousing responses – the “medial prefrontal cortex” — is extremely active on the other hand. This graphic of brain activity probably describes it best:
George Land’s Creativity Test
George Land conducted a research study in 1968. He did a creativity test on children in the age group 3 to 5. This was the same test he conducted to select scientists and innovative engineers for NASA. He tested the same children at 10 years of age, and again at 15 years of age. The results were shocking.
While the creativity in 5 year olds was 98%, it became 30% when they reached the age of 10. And it was just 12% when they were tested as 15 year olds.
When the same test was given to 280,000 adults, the creativity was just 2%.
What the test shows is that non-creative behaviour is learned.
Why aren’t adults as creative as children?
Rules and regulations kill creativity. Our education is 200 years old. What it teaches us is not to think different but to just follow instructions.
Creativity in education
What is important in today’s world is not just learning a specific skill set. What prepares students for life beyond the classroom is learning how to be more creative.
Schools have started acknowledging the importance of creativity in classrooms. Courses in creativity are provided by academia because they know only creativity can help students succeed in life and not just bookishknowledge.
Creativity is not restricted to certain subjects like English, art, etc. All subjects are creative.
Why we need creative educators
Sir Ken Robinson, international advisor on education, once interviewed Hans Zimmer, the Oscar winning German composer. Zimmer apparently was an unruly child at school. He was thrown out from 8 schools. When his parents took him to the ninth, the head teacher figured out how to get Zimmer involved in education just by talking to him. The head teacher organised for him to study music because Zimmer said he liked music. Thisled to his successful career.
Not just Zimmer’s music but the teacher and her teaching method are also creative. This again is proof of the importance of creativity in educators. Zimmer was lucky as the head teacher was creative in her teachingmethods. But in today’s greatly synchronized teaching environment there is no scope for creativity.
During a recent experiment a creative writing task was given to science and arts students. To everyone’s surprise, science students performed much better than arts students. The experiment showed the value of creative thought of scientists in their workplace. What push forward their organisations is the creativity and innovation of these scientists, instilling the atmosphere of a startup company.
Creativity in all of its forms should be embraced by educators if they want to nurture happy, well balanced students. The right kind of thinkers for future generations can be cultivated only through this method.
The principle goal of education is to create men who are capable of doing new things, not simply of repeating what other generations have done-men who are creative, inventive, and discoverers. – Jean PiagetHelp students embrace this creativity is what educators should aim for. Let students give wings to the imagination without the fear of failure.
It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge. – Albert Einstein
Teachers should think of themselves as creative educators if they want to incorporate creativity into their systems, schools and psyche.
Creativity – a crucial skill for professionals
Creativity is no longer just seen as what artists and musicians process. It’s a crucial skill for professionals in all fields.
The “20% rule” is practised by most of the biggest and successful businesses in the world. This means that they are encouraging their employees to set aside 20% of their work time to exploring new ideas and thinking creatively.
In the modern business world creativity is valued as the most important business skill, says a recent survey.
For organizations the world over creativity and innovation are the number 1 strategic priorities.
The annual strategy survey by the Boston Consulting Group shows innovation and creativity as the top ranked tactical imperative.
Creativity is part of all our day jobs
Many researchers would agree that in order to solve problems and exploit opportunities you have to think creatively and find useful and original ideas. According to a NESTA Everyday Innovation survey, creativity is an integral part of modern work. Not just for arch-strategists or chief executives, but for all of us.
In a new research by Adobe that surveyed college-educated professionals, it was proved that creative thoughts ought to have a much elevated precedence in teaching curricula. The U.S. study, Creativity and Education: Why it Matters, proves that to succeed in any career you need to be creative. It also emphasis that creativity is a learned skill and not just a personality trait.
Can Creativity be Taught?
Yes, creativity skills can be learned. All you need is an interest in the creative process, the desire to explore and a spirit of curiosity. Several studies have been conducted on the effectiveness of creative training. These studies show that well-designed creativity training programs typically encourage performances in students, teachers as well as professionals.
How creativity courses can improve creativity
There are several courses that will help adults — artists, musicians, authors, educators and professionals — improve creativity through creative writing, photography, collage, storytelling, free-form drawing, guided visualizations and mindfulness.
What are the factors that contribute to the effectiveness of these training programs? Studies on these programmes showed that more successful programs focused on development of cognitive skills using realistic exercises.
The more successful programmes helped participants fight incapacitating self-criticism and the fear of failure that lead to creative blocks. At these workshops are taught in a nurturing, playful, non-competitive environment where focus and freedom go hand in hand. Rather than focusing simply on the creative product such workshops focuses on the creative process. They put emphasis on the idea of creativity as a way of living.
Developing creativity through play
The basic components of the creative process are involved in play. It generates new experimentation, possibilities, and exploration of unlimited fantasy and reality. For the development of a healthy personality, play is crucial.
A child is calm and satisfied after a good session of play. The child often experiences deep distress if play is disrupted. The child experiences frustrations if the environment is too strict and he feels tortured. Such a child may begin to torture others. In the book Human Development: An Introduction to the Psychodynamics of Growth, Maturity and Ageing, authors Eric Rayner, James Rose, Angela Joyce, Christopher Clulow, and Mary Twyman, say that these cruel games can carry on into adult life, in criminal behaviour or empire building. For meeting curriculum standards play is often prevented and this could have a harmful and negative impact on children’s personality formation.
An adult who has lost his/her creative spark can be taught how to be creative through play. Through a series of experiments they retrieve the child’s sense of wonder in adults. Participants in a creativity training program are taught how to fit into place in the process of creativity, and increase self-confidence in their creativity through play.
Tap into inborn creativity
Creativity is required to succeed in life. People are born creative, and given the right environment and with the right creative tools and training everyone can tap into this innate talent.