Creativity 101, Monday 6/9/14: What is Creativity?

creative book oneMy summer creativity course for high schoolers explores several dynamics including:

Active learners must come up with new ideas and insights in order to move ahead. How can we shake up our thinking patterns and progress toward “the unfettered realm of creative analysis and objective appraisal,” that Socrates spoke of? This course will encourage students to use writing, speaking listening, collaboration, and other tools to enhance innovative thinking and artistic expression.

Creativity 101 is highly experiential, requiring each student to participate actively, taking on weekly projects. Each week a new challenge will be presented. Some of the challenges will be completed individually, and some will be done in teams.

Genres of literature, film, poetry, graphic arts, television, fine art, music, and dance will be utilized.
To foster collaboration and learning between the students, we will craft teams for each assignment. Each project will be done with a different team, so students get a chance to work with a wide variety of participants. All submissions will be viewed and evaluated by the course participants.

Students will learn techniques for improving the flexibility and originality of their thinking and will explore approaches to create and sustain high levels of innovation. Topics include: personal thinking preferences, everyday creativity and eliminating mental blocks, creative thinking techniques, idea selection approaches, teaming techniques for creativity, conditions that promote creativity, design for interaction, and intellectual property. The course uses fun and hands-on activities to stimulate innovation.

Creativity was once thought to be a talent bestowed upon a lucky few. Today it is understood as a skill that we can all learn, develop and apply. And in today’s economy–with information available to everyone and support services outsourced overseas–creativity is the most valuable asset you can possess and the best way to get ahead.

Learn to unlock these abilities with Creativity Workout. In 62 excercises designed by Edward de Bono, the world’s leading creativity expert, you’ll discover how to tap into your most original thinking. Each exercise is fun and simple and will get you in the creative state of mind necessary to think yourself to success.

And before we talk more about what it means to create, below is an important reminder:

From Human Motivation, 3rd ed., by Robert E. Franken:

  • Creativity is defined 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. (page 396)
  • Three reasons why people are motivated to be creative:
    1. need for novel, varied, and complex stimulation
    2. need to communicate ideas and values
    3. need to solve problems (page 396)
  • In order to be creative, you need to be able to view things in new ways or from a different perspective. Among other things, you need to be able to generate new possibilities or new alternatives. Tests of creativity measure not only the number of alternatives that people can generate but the uniqueness of those alternatives. the ability to generate alternatives or to see things uniquely does not occur by change; it is linked to other, more fundamental qualities of thinking, such as flexibility, tolerance of ambiguity or unpredictability, and the enjoyment of things heretofore unknown. (page 394)

From Creativity – Beyond the Myth of Genius, by Robert W. Weisberg.

  • …”creative” refers to novel products of value, as in “The airplane was a creative invention.” “Creative” also refers to the person who produces the work, as in, ?Picasso was creative.” “Creativity,” then refers both to the capacity to produce such works, as in “How can we foster our employees’ creativity?” and to the activity of generating such products, as in “Creativity requires hard work.” (page 4)
  • All who study creativity agree that for something to be creative, it is not enough for it to be novel: it must have value, or be appropriate to the cognitive demands of the situation.” (page 4)

From Creativity – Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.

  • Ways that “creativity” is commonly used:
    1. Persons who express unusual thoughts, who are interesting and stimulating – in short, people who appear to unusually bright.
    2. People who experience the world in novel and original ways. These are (personally creative) individuals whose perceptions are fresh, whose judgements are insightful, who may make important discoveries that only they know about.
    3. Individuals who have changes our culture in some important way. Because their achievement are by definition public, it is easier to write about them. (e.g., Leonardo, Edison, Picasso, Einstein, etc.) (pages 25-26)
  • The Systems Model of Creativity: (pages 27-28)
    1. the creative domain, which is nested in culture – the symbolic knowledge shred by a particular society or by humanity as a whole (e.g., visual arts)
    2. the field, which includes all the gatekeepers of the domain (e.g., art critics, art teachers, curators of museums, etc.)
    3. the individual person, who using the symbols of the given domain (such as music, engineering, business, mathematics) has a new idea or sees a new pattern, and when this novelty is selected by the appropriate field for inclusion into the relevant domain
  • Creativity is any act, idea, or product that changes an existing domain, or that transforms an existing domain into a new one…What counts is whether the novelty he or she produces is accepted for inclusion in the domain.” (page 28)
  • Characteristics of the creative personality: (pages 58-73)
    1. Creative individuals have a great deal of energy, but they are also often quiet and at rest.
    2. Creative individuals tend to be smart, yet also naive at the same time.
    3. Creative individuals have a combination of playfulness and discipline, or responsibility and irresponsibility.
    4. Creative individuals alternate between imagination and fantasy ant one end, and rooted sense of reality at the other.
    5. Creative people seem to harbor opposite tendencies on the continuum between extroversion and introversion.
    6. Creative individuals are also remarkable humble and proud at the same time.
    7. Creative individuals to a certain extent escape rigid gender role stereotyping and have a tendency toward androgyny.
    8. Generally, creative people are thought to be rebellious and independent.
    9. Most creative persons are very passionate about their work, yet they can be extremely objective about it as well.
    10. The openness and sensitivity of creative individuals often exposes them to suffering pain yet also a great deal of enjoyment.

Creativity Exercises

  • Are You Seeing… 
    or Is Your Brain Deciding What You Should See?
  • Alter Your Focus To Change Your Perception… 
    Enable Yourself To See What You Couldn’t See Before
  • Word Patterns… 
    Break up patterns so you can become more creative
  • Remote Associations Test… 
    Form associative elements into new combinations
  • Your Theory Determines What You Observe… 
    You see only that which confirms your theory.
  • Different Perspective… 
    Genius often comes from finding a new perspective.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s