Given how much interest there is on the topic of creativity, it is surprisingly difficult to find a commonly agreed definition. In fact, there are probably as many definitions of creativity as there are pizza toppings in your local restaurant. However, even though there are many definitions, one theme reappears in many different contexts, and that is that creativity is the generation of is novelty and usefulness.
I must emphasize, at this point, that many creativity researchers say this only touches one aspect of creativity, and I would certainly agree with them. But, it does at least provide us with a starting point for thinking about what 'being creative' might involve.
In order to understand what else might be involved, I want to give you with a very brief overview of my view of creativity. It isn't a definition (there are already more than enough of those) but rather a tour around some principles, and beliefs, that shape my thinking on the topic:
1. Everyone has the ability to be creative and we can all become more creative with practice.
2. Creative thinking is natural. One of my students recently said, “we each have been created, therefore we are each born to create!” I couldn’t agree more. You create everyday- whether you think so or not. Did you get dressed this morning? Make lunch? Decide how you would craft that important document? We are constantly creating our lives, and we have choices in how we do this.
3. Creative thinking is an essential life skill. I stole this one from my department chair- Dr. Gerard Puccio. We need to be able to think differently and to problem solve in order to get through each day.
4. Creative thinking is more than just coming up with new ideas. It is about living life in a way that is open, authentic, and curious. It is a mindset and approach to everything we do.
5. Creativity is relevant in the arts, education, business, science, math, English, health, and well- everything! Often times when I hear about creativity in relationship to kids, it is discussed in relation to the arts. And while that certainly is one domain that creativity is important, there are many, many more (and we will discuss this as I move along on this journey).
6. You can be perfectly healthy and highly creative at the same time. I have come across a number of books that discuss creative people as being emotionally unstable, depressed, bipolar, etc, which I think sometimes leads people to the belief that you can’t be a healthy creative person. This is simply not true. And with that, I refer to #1.
7. Creative ideas come from hard work and dedication to the situation at hand.While many people describe a creative insight as an “aha” or “Eureka” experience, it is usually prefaced with a great deal of thought and hard work around a challenge or situation.
8. A creative life can lead to a happier life. I have uncovered this both personally and with a number of my students. When you learn creative thinking skills, the world becomes a blank canvas to paint and create opportunities. You simply need to be open to exploration.
So, that's what I believe; what about you? How do you define creativity? Please share your thoughts.