Can creativity be taught?

“Artists can color the sky red because they know it’s blue. Those of us who aren’t artists must color things the way they really are or people might think we’re stupid.”

Jules Feiffer

I am in the Sir Ken Robinson camp on this one. Creativity is often educated out of kids in school – if you have a spare 25 minutes check out his talk on he is both passionate & funny on this issue

I am not entirely sure if creativity can be taught as the audience needs to want to learn (I am not sure if anything can be taught if there is no inherent motivation to learn). What I do know is that I have watched a number of people “become” creative in front of my very eyes and the ingredient for it is very simple. In other words I have facilitated the learning of creativity.

If you want people to be creative or innovative – yes they are different but they both require the same foundational environment – then create a safe place; one where it is ok to make mistakes. Allow your audience to FEEL what Alexander Bell knew – for every incredible thing he created there were a thousand “mistakes”.

Personally, I create that environment through games and activities. I am more than willing to share if anyone wants.

and as a follow up:

Creativity is a wonderful organic process, I believe it is what the brain does naturally because it works on the principle of making connections. Here is the kicker though, the brain does not function optimally when it is controlled by an emotionally negative state – the brain needs to feel safe to make a majority of its connections – there are obviously the fight or flight exceptions. So this whole idea of teaching creativity leaves me a little uneasy as it is something that occurs naturally. As has been said before though; if the environment is one that creates a negative emotional state then creativity will be stopped in its tracks. I believe this is what happens in a lot of school and business environments.

We can create environments that will see increased creativity, we can provide tools to help it happen. I do not know if we can teach it.

What makes this discussion really relevant to me as a trainer is that it is my responsibility to make sure that I create an optimal environment to ensure learning AND to help people be the best that they can be and learn that this “best” is truly part of them. I want my audience to be creative to find that “best” so mulling over what the creative process is and what I can do to help it on its way is very valid.

This discussion has been a great thought provoker for me as it has mimicked the creative process and grown organically. Connections have been made and transferred. Contributors have taken information and made it their own by playing with it and manipulating it to create something that reflects them. It demonstrates the creativity involved in all learning. Now imagine what would happen if several contributors had shamed, mocked and dismissed other contributions – there was one entry that may have been taken that way but thankfully the group moved on quickly and left it behind.

If I imagine that scenario then I am back where I started, with a supportive environment creative magic is able to happen.



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