Creativity

Definitions of creativity abound while effective approaches for the development of it are few. Several large-scale attempts to incorporate the teaching of creativity in schools have not been successful, proving, among other things, that traditional pedagogy does not seem to promote its development.

Sir Ken Robinson in his recent book The Element (Allen Lane, 2009) dispels three myths about creativity:

  • Only certain people have this special gift. Not true. Humans are naturally creative, imaginative and curious. It is, as Robinson's popular YouTube video claims, a natural talent that is systematically killed off during formal schooling.
  • Creativity is about special activities - art, drama, music and so on. While these areas involve the expression of creative talents, so too does science, engineering and business. Even accounting can be creative.
  • People are either creative or not. A view similar to the one that people are intelligent or not. Neither is true. One of the most significant recent understandings of the brain is its capacity for adaptation and growth, called 'plasticity'. Creativity, like intelligence can be developed.

A better understanding of the brain provides the best foundations upon which to build a model that promotes the development of creativity. Insights such as emotion being in place before thought, or more significant, the way the emotional brain can 'override' logical thought, need to be accounted for. Emotions are intrinsically linked with motivation; in fact, the one key concept common to nearly all research papers on creativity is the importance of 'intrinsic motivation'.

People will be most creative when they feel motivated primarily by the interest, enjoyment, satisfaction and the challenge of the work itself - not by external pressures.
Hennessey, B. & Amabile, T. (1997) The conditions of creativity. In Sternberg, R (Ed) The Nature of Creativity, Cambridge University Press, UK.

C21 Ideas draws on the work of several experts, and a significant part of the one-day workshop is drawing together new insights such as the biology of learning; the brain as pattern matching organ; the role of 'mirror neurons'; the four 'core competencies' of creativity (Epstein); and understanding emotions.