Reflections on creative intelligence
Today, creativity is a key driver in the global economy. However, in the majority of national education curriculums creativity is perceived as secondary to many other subjects. Unfortunately this means that students leave school without knowing how to create and innovate and consequently they will be underprepared for the challenges that our society and economies are facing. Author Richard Florida stresses the growing importance of creativity; “I call the age we are entering the creative age because the key factor propelling us forward is the rise of creativity as the primary mover of our economy.”
In today’s world of global competition and complex problems, creative intelligence and innovative capacity are fast becoming requirements for personal and professional success. A leading thinker on creativity, Kenneth Robinson, has declared that “Creativity is as important in education as literacy and we should treat it with the same status. Furthermore, creativity is basic to making our society viable because without we would lose our competitive edge”. Indeed, when looking at our culture and development it’s evident that every facet of our existence depends to an increasing extent on our ability to utilize people’s creative intelligence. In fact, our challenge is how to foster the creative intelligence not only for one creative elite, but to spread this ability throughout our society.
Breaking the myth of creativity
To foster and spread creativity, the first thing what we must do is to break the myth that creativity is a talent that only a few special people possess; something completely wrong as we are all born with great creative skills and imagination. Creative intelligence and imagination exists in all children and parents see proof of this capacity every day. It is creative intelligence that lets us imagine, that allows our minds to shape things that are not present, which do not exist and what we never have experienced. Creative intelligence allows us to raise hypotheses, conjecture, to see new possibilities and to speculate. Creativity uses imagination and applies it to what is new, to solve problems, and even to formulate new ones.
We must also break the stereotype that associates creativity as something that relates only to certain disciplines such as art, design or advertising. In fact, in today’s professional world people are required to employ creative thinking for self-improvement and innovation within an ever-changing global economy.
The creative personality
To cultivate and educate the right “creative minds” we need an educational curriculum that includes exploration, problem solving, diversity and that promotes tolerance of “mistakes.” Before starting to focus on how to integrate creative intelligence, creativity practices and innovation into school curriculums and in order to cultivate such creative minds, it is important to consider what defines “the creative personality”; because personality is one of the main factors contributing to the success of productive, creative people.
Experts on education and creativity such as Jane Piirto, has defined the following key personality attributes as contributors to creativity: being imaginative, having insight or intuition, being open and perceptive, being willing to take risks, and having a high tolerance for ambiguity. Being imaginative -our imagination- is a critical part of creative intelligence because it is a powerful tool that helps us visualize and understand alternatives, unexpected ideas and new possibilities. At the same time, this creative visualization also helps us overcome mental blocks that interfere with the creative thinking.
Starting to cultivate creativity
It is clear that our school systems need to respond better to a changing world and that creative intelligence is a must. We also know that creativity relies on our cognition (ability to visualize and understand), memory (what we have learned) and our ability to extend, restate, recombine and invent new responses to situations, to our internal (drive, risk-taking, etc.) and to how we interact with the external environment. For this reason, we have to encourage our governments and education agents to consider how their education systems incorporate “right brain” (creative) approaches to teaching and learning into education praxis.
First and foremost we have to start by consider questions as: are we shaping the creativity skills in our students? Is creativity encouraged in the classroom and in the lesson plans? Are we pushing students to be more creative and innovative? Do we enable our educators to work together and collaborate to improve their pedagogical practices to involve creativity?
Another possibility is to promote a fun and instructive creative intelligence challenge such as “The Marshmallow Challenge”. This is a creative exercise to encourage teams of students to experience simple but profound lessons in creativity . Take a look at this TED talk: http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/tom_wujec_build_a_tower.html