The Creative “I” – Defining Creativity

Part 1: I interviewed one of my colleagues, Jacob, who teaches Art and Design at our school. He has brought some fresh life to our art department with his new creative ideas over the last two years, like a Christmas art showing and a new kiln for the art department.

Jacob’s definition of creativity is “an act or emotional response that creates something new, different or interesting”. I found his involvement of emotions to be a unique angle on the topic of creativity, as he talked about trying to elicit creative thoughts and emotions from his students. He said we can recognize creativity mainly by the outcome, but it is also important to find ways to assess the creative process. I asked him how helps develop creativity in his students, and he said it starts by teaching students how to problem solve.  If a student can develop the confidence to take on a problem knowing they likely will fail they then begin to look at those problems in new and interesting ways. He advocates trying many solutions and not just the same way it has been done before.

I also asked Jacob about his own creative process and how creativity relates to his life. He said that when he begins a project he first thinks about the goals in which he hopes to accomplish. Once he knows where he wants to go he begins by collecting and taking inventory of the resources he has to get to those goals. Then he follows what he called “an entertaining maze of solutions” which lead him to the outcome. He said that embracing failure and not being afraid to fail help him to look at the world in a new and creative way.

Part 2: I was really surprised to see how much overlap there was in my interviewee’s answers with the Mishra and Henriksen article on creativity. Jacob mentioned the words “new” and “interesting” several times, which parallel novel and whole from the article. The only thing that was significantly different in the article from the interview was the concept of measuring creativity’s effectiveness or usefulness. However, Jacob did talk a lot about solutions to problems, and one could argue that a solution must indeed be effective by its very nature of solving a problem.

I learned so much from the interview and the article in regard to my outlook on creativity and my assessment of it. I want to push my students to produce more creative projects and not be afraid to fail. I want to give them more guidelines as to how I view creativity and how I will assess it. In the past I was looking for something interesting or well-crafted, but I want to integrate the ideas of novelty and effectiveness into my rubric for my students. I do believe I need to do a better job of displaying creativity as a model for my students and I want to give them more opportunities to solve problems creatively.

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