Teaching creativity and what it really means

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Teaching creativity is a touchy subject that you can look at from a number of angles.

At it’s core, however, you cannot teach creativity. You can, however, teach how to nurture creative thinking.

Consider this: parts of creative thinking are innate. When we look at the brain: the majority of neural happenings are what powers creative thought. One connection leads to another, which leads to another, and so on.

We see newborn children expressing creativity almost instantly. They’re curious, they poke and pull things. If a child can’t figure something out they find a way or make something up. That’s our brains working naturally to be creative. That’s not something that’s taught (or that can be taught).

There are, however, thinking tactics that empower creative thought that can be taught.

For example curiosity. Knowing what questions to ask in order to invoke certain connections in the brain isn’t something we’re naturally good at, but it is something that can be learned. Teaching how to be exceptionally curious can lead to more knowledge, which helps build-up new ideas in the mind.

There’s also the importance of tinkering, taking things apart and seeing how they work, that’s something that can be taught. There’s teaching the value of failing, and how to take a failure as a lesson to be learned rather than an experience to be feared. Discovery, expression, play, all are elements of creativity that can be taught. They’re not the core of creativity, but they each play a large part in how it works.

So, while everyone has natural creative abilities, there are certain methods that promote creative processes in the brain which can be taught. For educators and creatives who are eager to learn more, understanding this is important.

For more information on teaching creativity, take a look at Reinventing Education To Teach Creativity And Entrepreneurship and the great book Why Not?: How to Use Everyday Ingenuity to Solve Problems Big And Small.

Photo by Kimberly Rodriguez.