Can Creativity be Taught?

Having Trouble Defining a Topic? Maybe you did not spend enough time thinking about it.

In this short video, Sir Ken Robinson (@sirkenrobinson) explains why we have such a hard time defining creativity — when we do not take the time to think about and explore a topic, we have trouble defining it.

Robinson's definition:

Creativity is the process of having original ideas that have value. It's a process, and not an event.


it's normally a process of trial and error. And we don't know quite a lot about that process and how it works, some of the phases that we go through, and how to unblock it.

Secondly, it is about original thinking. It doesn't have to be original to the whole world, but it certainly does need to be original to you, maybe to your peer group. It can sometimes break how people have thought about something since the origins of time. But it's not a requirement of creativity that it has to be new to the planet.

And thirdly it's about value and people often contest it and say "who's value" and that is exactly the point. All of creative processes involve valuation.


there's and early stage where you're brainstorming and hypothesizing, but then it's work and crafting, trying again and trying to get it right.

When we say creative, the term often brings to mind art, design, craft. The thing is, says Robinson, we can be creative at anything. Can then creativity be taught?

You don't teach to be creative through direct instruction. Like do what I do and you will be more creative. There are aspects in any field that you need to master – skills and techniques.


teaching is a process of enabling, of giving people opportunities, it's a process of encouragement, it's a process of inspiration and mentoring.


it is demonstrably true that gifted teachers help people to discover their creative talent, to nurture them, and to become more creative as a result.

By this process, creativity can be taught. To assess whether someone has become more creative, we need to go back to the definition, says Robinson.

That creativity is about original ideas that have value.

Therefore the assessment process begins by identifying what is original in a field, then figuring out what has value. As soon as we can do that, then we can transform the power of teaching and of learning.

This applies beyond the classroom. An unqualified surrender to the many demands of an always on culture have deprived businesses of the power of teaching and that of learning. When people have no time to think, they are also less likely to have original ideas that have value.

[image credit: Zyari at DeviantArt]