Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Intelligence, Imagination and Creativity

Another post based on notes and thoughts from The Element by Sir Ken Robinson.

Most people believe that intelligence and creativity are different things, however you can't be creative without acting intelligently - the highest form of intelligence is thinking creatively.  Most people have a narrow view of intelligence, tending to think of it mainly in terms of academic ability.  

  • Creativity is very much like literacy - if a person can't read or write you don't assume they are incapable of it, just that he or she hasn't learned how to do it.  The same is true of creativity - when people say they are not creative it is often because they don't know what's involved or how creativity works in practice.
  • It's a myth that creativity is part of a special domain like the arts - they do involve a high level of creativity but so can science, maths, running a business, being an athlete .... you can be creative at anything at all that involves your intelligence.
  • It's a myth that creativity is a fixed trait.  It's entirely possible to become more creative in your work and life.
Imagination underpins every uniquely human achievement.  Imagination is "the power to bring to mind things tht are not present to our senses".  Through imagination we can create.  When we release our mind from the here and now we are free.  Imagination is the foundation of everything uniquely and distinctively human - it's the basis of language, the arts, sciences, philosophy and the vast intricacies of human culture.

Imagination is not the same as creativity.  Creativity takes the process of imagination to another level.  "The process of having original ideas that have value"  A creative person has to do more than imagine - they have to DO something - put their imagination to work to make something new, to come up with new solutions to problems, even to think of new problems or questions.  Creativity is applied imagination.

Creativity is a process - generating new ideas, imagining different possibilities, considering alternative options, developing those ideas by judging which works best (evaluating) and refining them.  Creative work involves using media of some sort and tapping into your talents.  Creative people love the media they work with.  To develop our creative abilities we also need to develop our practical skills in the media we want to use.  Being creative is about making fresh connections so we see things in new ways and from different perspectives.  Creativity uses much more than our brains - in many instances (dance, song, performance) we are the medium of our creative work.

With group work success is not because they all think the same way, but because they are all so different.  Members have different talents and interests and these differences stimulate each other to create something they couldn't have come up with individually.

Reflection:  Are we focusing too much on intelligence and not enough on imagination and creativity?

Photo Credit:  Fingerpaint by Sandor Weisz AttributionNoncommercial 

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