Defining Creativity – No Cognitive GPS

ImageTo define a word such as creativity, after reading just one or two scholarly papers, is like scrapping the skin off a cup of boiled milk. Yet, this is a term that we use so loosely  and confidently in our classroom settings, our staffroom meetings, our report writing and our evaluation of student abilities.

She is so creative… Just be creative…That’s a creative piece of work…and so on. Familiar phrases that we use with an acceptance that they belong to some “elite” colourful, expressive human being and are demonstrated only through individual achievements along a prescribed and progressive timeline within one artistic domain.

But after “skinning the milk” I am knowing that creativity  is far more complex. Creativity is not a “prepared” form of involvement.  It is an “active process” (Fautley, M and Savage, J, “Creativity in Secondary Education, 2007). A process that does not always necessitate individual involvement but can also take on an arguably more higher saturation and expression of creativity through social interaction. This is evident in the situational theory of learning.

What is inspiring is that the researched definition of creativity is authorising that all students, that all people are creative.(Boden, 2004) Apparent in curriculum documents where creativity is no longer limited to the Arts domain but now is recognised in other educational domains such as Mathematics, English, Religion and so on.  Interestingly, during the Renaissance period of the 14-16th century, art and mathematics shared a domain and this is exemplified in the works of Giotto and the “perfect circle” story by request of the Pope.

Creativity is multi defined to include  instances in time. A creative thought , as Guildford explains in 1967, can be “convergent” where we move to one fixed answer  or “divergent” where there is no predetermined answer. I believe this is  where the  “hype of creative activity” can most lie. When the process, the interaction, the thoughts, the proving, the disproving and the solving have no “cognitive GPS” but allowed to explore their forms, perspectives, understanding, skills and psychology in a social and shared domain. All this happening in no set limit of time.

Creativity is no longer a term simply applied to painting, dance, performance but it is a term that underpins disciplines in all learning areas so that the learning is one aimed at arming our students for their present and future roles in society and the workplace.


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