Sunday, September 23, 2012

Creative Thinking Skills for Life and Education ( teaching creativity )

Combining Creativity with Critical Thinking

Creativity is Fun and Useful, but...
In productive PROBLEM SOLVING you creatively GENERATE ideas and critically EVALUATE ideas. Usually, creative generation is the most exciting part of this process. But critical evaluation is more important, because if creative ideas are immediately converted into action (without being wisely evaluated) the result can be unwise action. By itself, creativity is not sufficient. But it is useful and fun. Hopefully, this page — with its interesting “ideas about getting ideas” — will inspire some exciting mental adventures and creatively productive ideas.

WHAT is Creativity? "Creative or innovative thinking is the kind of thinking that leads to new insights, novel approaches, fresh perspectives, whole new ways of understanding and conceiving of things. The products of creative thought include some obvious things like music, poetry, dance, dramatic literature, inventions, and technical innovations. But there are some not so obvious examples as well, such as ways of putting a question that expand the horizons of possible solutions, or ways of conceiving of relationships that challenge presuppositions and lead one to see the world in imaginative and different ways." {Peter Facione, Santa Clara University}
WHY should you want to be creative? What are the benefits? 12 Reasons to Study Creativity
HOW can you be more creative, and help your students be more creative? The International Center for Studies in Creativity says, "Creativity is an effective resource that resides in all people and within all organizations. Our more than thirty years of research has conclusively demonstrated that creativity can be nurtured and enhanced through the use of deliberate tools, techniques and strategies." {source}
• You can begin exploring with Three Basic Principles (and more); creative strategies are explained, and illustrated with historical examples, in Creativity, Innovation and Problem Solving. If you want to read only one page, I suggest the Introduction to Creative Thinking by Robert Harris, which is an excellent summary of strategies for understanding and improving creativity.
• Although a blending of creativity and critical thinking is necessary for productive thinking, being critical in a harsh way — by implying “your idea was dumb, and so are you for suggesting it” — can stifle creativity. Therefore, "one strategy for creativity is to ‘play games’ with the modes by shifting the balance in favor of creativity for awhile, by experimenting with different balances between the modes during different stages in the overall process of productive thinking," as described in my introduction to a strategy of Brainstorm-and-Edit and in a more thorough overview of pros-and-cons by Wikipedia and a “how to do it” page by MindTools, who share other strategies (scroll down the page!) in their Creativity Tools plus tips for a wider range of thinking skills in their Full Toolkit.
• The Stanford Design School shares a wide variety of attitudes-and-techniques for stimulating creativity (with brainstorming and much more), along with principles for productive design thinking, in their Bootcamp Bootleg.
• Another interesting approach uses visualization techniques, as in a Periodic Table and Stairsteps (to see things happening on these pages, Javascript must be enabled in your browser's security-Preferences) and in other ways, from
• One useful principle is to aim for an effective balance of searching (to find old ideas) and imagining (to invent new ideas) so you can combine the best of old and new ideas.
• The editor, Craig Rusbult, shares useful perspectives on Guided Generation (with a creative generation of ideas stimulated-and-guided by critical evaluation) and Free Invention; search for "invent" in the sitemap, to find Creative-and-Critical Invention of Ideas.
Models for the Creative Process by Paul Plsek, is a historical review, from 1908 to 1994, concluding with his DirectedCreativity Cycle that "is a synthesis model of creative thinking that combines the concepts behind the various models proposed over the last 80+ years."
• Creativity can arise from a combination of conscious thinking and the unconscious thinking that occurs during a non-working period of incubation.
• A wide variety of strategies — 31 tools for creativity — are described by Charles Cave in Creativity Techniques plus "What can I do to increase my creativity?" and a link to plenty of ideas and resources in his Creativity Web: Resources for Creativity and Innovation. This is very thorough, is worth exploring, and is useful for getting a comprehensive overview of the field.
• Another website is less comprehensive, but interesting: Thoughts on Problem Solving was developed by faculty in the Engineering Dept at the Univ of Michigan.
• Edward de Bono has been influential in the field of creativity, with his Thinking Tools — Lateral Thinking, Six Thinking Hats, Direct Attention Thinking Tools, and more. On his own website, de Bono describes Lateral Thinking & Parallel Thinking and other ideas.

Creative Thinking in Education:

Teaching Creativity in Schools

Plenty of "creativity training" is offered by independent organizations (who work with corporations,...) and there is some activity in mainstream education. For example, The International Center for Studies in Creativity at Buffalo State University offers a thorough education in creativity — although I'm sure they would say "this is just a start, a launching pad for your own explorations" — and (check their "Education" links) several degrees.
K-12 programs seem to focus on critical thinking more often than creative thinking, but some "thinking skills" programs (see the "learning, teaching, and education" parts of the link-pages for Critical Thinking and Problem Solving) combine creativity and critical thinking. { Later, probably beginning in October 2009, after a more thorough search for TEACHING ACTIVITIES there will be more information about creativity-stimulating activities and programs, for K-12 and beyond. }
ERIC Digests have excellent introductory summary/overviews about creative education that fosters creativity in children & adults or stimulates & supports curiosity. {creativity occurs in a wide range of areas, including education, business, technology, science, and language arts} And ERIC lets you search for ideas about thinking skills (creative thinking, critical thinking, decision making, ...) and much more.
Educators should recognize, appreciate, and encourage different styles of creativity. Gerard Puccio describes the advantages and disadvantages of two styles of creative people (functioning primarily as adaptors who focus on improving an existing situation, and innovators who develop and advocate new solutions): "Instead of valuing one style, an organization should respect and value the adaptive and innovative styles of creativity. Individuals within an organization can work more effectively together by capitalizing on each others' strengths, rather than punishing each other because of individual differences. If an atmosphere of openness and trust prevails in the organization, then the adaptors and innovators will be able to join their creative talents to propel the organization to success. ... Individuals will manifest their creativity in different ways, and both styles of creativity are valuable." { from Two Dimensions of Creativity: Level and Style which also describes four aspects of "the what-and-how of creativity" and of research about the creative person, process, product, and environment }

Scientific Research about Creative Thinking Skills

For an introduction to the wide scope of research about creativity, check the topically arranged vocabulary terms for different facets of creativity (with a link to definitions for these terms) for Buffalo State's online database, Creativity-Based Information Resources. As you would expect, since they know how their database is organized, their page offering Search Help will help you use their database more effectively. And their Reading Room offers a wide variety of "papers about creativity" you can explore.

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