The Meaning of Creativity Opportunities for creativity are all around us, but how often do we recognize them? Creativity is defined as “creative ability or process,” but I think this definition trivializes what creativity is and does and can do for everyone who will learn to use it appropriately and often. Based on my observations, experiences, and readings, creativity can be a daily exercise in self-discovery in addition to a quest for knowledge, which is why all teachers should be creative in designing, delivering and modeling the lessons they teach.
I want you to know this is my goal when I teach and also my goal for you as you learn. To begin, it has been my observation that creativity can only be described as a positive force. It is perhaps the only time when a person is entirely herself. Rita Mae Brown wrote, “Creativity comes from trust. Trust your instincts. ” Whether someone is composing a song, building a house, creating a new hairstyle, or inventing the next great HSN success, the creator is discovering her strength, her potential, her gift, her only true self.
This is what I intend to happen for all of you in my classes. Whether you are answering an essay question or writing a poem, it is my intention that you will be developing (creating) the person you truly are. To further illustrate my point, in my own experience, I did not truly know who I was until I discovered my talent for learning and teaching English. Arthur Koestler said, “Creativity is a type of learning process where the teacher and pupil are located in the same individual. Had I not had the experience firsthand, the words of Koestler would make no sense to me. Though I had instructors teaching me how to teach, my greatest influence and motivation was the well spring of creativity I found within myself while writing essays and designing lesson plans. Once I knew it was there, little else mattered. I constantly change the way I teach in order utilize more of my own creativity—and yours, too. Instead of answering questions, I may ask you to design a diagram, compose a skit, or
Ultimately, when I read about creativity in educational journals, there are no negative references on the page—unless they have to do with the exclusion of creativity in today’s classrooms. Albert Einstein said, “You can never solve a problem on the level on which it was created;” this can be interpreted to mean that if you keep doing the same thing in different ways, the same problem will merely follow the new sequence, unless the new sequence is above the drudgery inherent in former procedures.
It is my goal to find new methods of inspiring the creativity in you, and it is your job to challenge yourself to step out of the “safe zone” to test your own ability to be innovative and creative. The more difficult and individualized and assignment is (such as the Scavenger Hunt Notebook) the greater the potential benefit. In conclusion, my definition of creativity is that it is the God-given ability we all have to create something spontaneously original in some area: math, music, language, construction, art, dance, etc.
When we refuse to see the potential for creativity in all experiences we miss opportunities for personal fulfillment and growth. Chances are that what we create will involve the heart as well as the head and it will mean more than any worksheet or project that neglects the creative process and focuses instead on memorization or mechanical imitation or repetition. As teacher I have used both methods in the classroom, and I think by now I don’t have to tell you which method works best and why. Sincerely, Mrs. E.