Defining Creativity

For many people, “creativity” is a term synonymous with artistic expression. But not every child or adult is naturally geared toward music, art, creative writing, culinary skills, landscaping, textile design, inventing, photography, ballet, theatre or another “creative” endeavor. Does that mean that the more logical thinkers among us are naturally un-creative?

rita brhelAbout the Author

Rita Brhel, API Leader, lives in Fairfield, Nebraska, USA, with her husband and their three children. She is a WIC Breastfeeding Peer Counselor in Hastings, Nebraska, and serves as the Managing Editor and Publications Team Coordinator for Attachment Parenting International.

According to the American Psychological Association, “creativity” is not so easily defined. Personality differences and personal backgrounds may lead a person into a career of creating sculpting masterpieces or to become a physicist creating theories on the origin of the universe. Both paths involve creativity, with different parameters and environments.

In addition, there is a difference between what is called “little-c” creativity and “Big-C” creativity:

  • little-c creativity—an indicator of mental health, includes everyday problem-solving and the ability to adapt;
  • Big-C creativity—far more rare, occurs when problem-solving reaches the level of genius as in Pulitzer and Nobel Prize winners.

There are many factors in creativity, from relevant skills, intrinsic task motivation and definitions of quality to freedom, support and positive challenges. Also critical is the ability to see things from a different perspective.

There are also known ways to inhibit creativity. While these are related to the adult workplace, they just as easily can be applied to the home or educational environment:

  • Lack of autonomy—All people, whether adults or children, need some degree of control over both the end result and the process.
  • Frequent interruptions—Creativity relies on being able to focus.
  • Insufficient resources, such as materials, information and  support from others.
  • Too narrow of focus on short-term goals—The creative person is able to see the big picture, too.
  • Time pressure—When in a hurry, people tend to prioritize  finishing the project over creativity.
  • A rigid structure—Flexibility helps in the “cross-pollination” of ideas.

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