Is it possible to learn to be creative?
Research suggests that we can all learn to be creative.
Are you creative?
Most people have an opinion about themselves regarding their creative abilities, either they are or not. It just seems to be something we are wired with from birth. While that may be inherently true there are countless factors that can contribute to an individual’s aptitude for creativity.
For example the type of education you had could have greatly enhanced or inhibited the development of your creative skills.
Renowned educational expert Sir Ken Robinson Ph.D often criticises current education systems as relics of the industrial revolution and believes that...
' we are all born with tremendous natural capacities, and that we lose touch with many of them as we spend more time in the world.’ (2009)
He blames the ‘one-size-fits-all’ industrialised approach our education systems are founded on.
I’ve got to say, after working in education through the past 35 years, I think he is absolutely right because I’ve seen it first hand. Too many students have come through my classroom beginning a lesson thinking they were not creative. Happily, with a little time, most left thinking differently about themselves. The good news is you can too.
Even if you think of yourself as lacking a creative bone in your body, research suggests it is possible to learn creative behaviours that will strengthen your skills.
This excerpt from an article from The American Psychological Association provides some research-based tips.
Robert Epstein, a visiting scholar at the University of California, San Diego, believes that despite the widely held belief that some people just aren't endowed with the creativity gene, "There's not really any evidence that one person is inherently more creative than another," Epstein (2000) . Rather, creativity is something that anyone can learn.
Epstein has conducted research showing that strengthening four core skill sets leads to an increase in novel ideas.
He recommends that you:
- Capture your new ideas. Keep an idea notebook or voice recorder with you, type in new thoughts on your laptop or write ideas down on a napkin.
- Seek out challenging tasks. Take on projects that don't necessarily have a solution—such as trying to figure out how to make your dog fly or how to build a perfect model of the brain. This causes old ideas to compete, which helps generate new ones.
- Broaden your knowledge. Take a class or read journals in different fields, suggests Epstein. This makes more diverse knowledge available for interconnection, he says, which is the basis for all creative thought.
- Surround yourself with interesting things and people. Regular dinners with diverse and interesting friends and a work space festooned with out-of-the-ordinary objects will help you develop more original ideas, Epstein says. You can also keep your thoughts lively by taking a trip to an art museum or attending an opera—anything that stimulates new thinking.
A study last year in the Creativity Research Journal (Vol. 20, No. 1), found that working on these four areas enhances creativity. Seventy-four city employees from Orange County, Calif., participated in creativity training seminars consisting of games and exercises developed by Epstein to strengthen their proficiency in these four skill sets. Eight months later, the employees had increased their rate of new idea generation by 55 percent—a feat that led to more than $600,000 in new revenue and a savings of about $3.5 million through innovative cost reductions.
Regardless of how you spend your days, working full/ part time in the home or outside, in the Arts or not, you can apply these behaviours to your every day schedule.
Soon you will see how they influence your creative thinking and improve your problem solving skills to more creative solutions that you may never had thought of in the past.
Will you develop your creativity? You know it's possible... why not give these tips a try! Let me know how you go!
Sir Ken Robinson Ph.D (2009) The Element. How finding your passion changes everything. Penguin
R. Epstein, S. Schmidt and R. Warfel (2008) Measuring and Training Creativity Competencies: Validation of a New Test in Creative Research Journal http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/10400410701839876
American Psychological Association http://www.apa.org/gradpsych/2009/01/creativity.aspx