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Academics vs Creativity

Creativity is extensively invoked in various educational and other public discourses and has been somewhat extensively theorized and considered in some fields, but still receives modest attention. After outlining the nature and various places of creativity, my paper explores what is the general role of creativity in academics, directly or indirectly. Data are drawn from an interview transcript, books and journals.

What is Creativity?

Creativity comprises of first imagining of something, to cause it to exist and then utilizing the imagination. This is a very personal act and it gives one a sense of achievement and satisfaction when it is achieved. It is difficult to define creativity and it is not often articulated as an explicit learning objective in the academic curriculum. In contrast, many well doing organizations train their graduate employees in ways of thinking that are creative in order to keep up innovation and remain competitive in their field of operations. Every teacher, instructor, tutor, or professor will interpret the idea of creativity in his or her own way.

Some think that creativity involves newness- originality or novelty for a person or a group of people, excitement-creativity stimulates for the reason that it is different, useful-it can be put into use at present at least, moral-the results of creativity are constructive, pleasurable-creativity gives some sense of satisfaction and hard work-the results of creativity reflects what one put in. “Creativity is the ability to look at things in different ways, to find satisfaction in making or creating something and persevering with it until the end product. It involves hard work…” (Feldman, 1999).

Being creative is for the most of it, a subconscious act. Teachers, instructors, tutors, or professors do not just decide to be creative! Yet teaching is an intrinsic act of creativity. In teaching, creativity is about employing imagination and helping students to use their imaginations to resolve difficulties and challenging learning situations. It is about nurturing intrinsic impetus for learning – something that seems to have been forgotten in our over-assessed world. The world we live in today is infinitely complex, unpredictable and dynamic world. Even though we will rarely admit that, the ability to work with it creatively is an essential capacity for success and for the sense of happiness that comes as a result of being creative and successful.

An imaginative curriculum project should nurture creativity in students through teaching and effective curriculum design. Academicians believe that that there are particular conditions that arouse their creativity when they develop a course: the existing knowledge of the course, an issue or a problem, interest for the discipline, and a concern in students and interest in their learning. Academicians also think that creativity is related with the capacity to make linkages and connections between the formerly unconnected and intuition-the little artistic spark. There are clear similarities between the perceptions of academicians of their own creativity and what they regard as the characteristics of creativity in students learning.

While various disciplines recognize and a wide range of intellectual characteristics, behaviors and attitudes related with creativity, DeWulf and Baillie (1999 p14-15) make out three characteristics:

  • The ability to envisage ideas spatially, metaphorically, holistically and to be able to change ideas through the manipulation of imagination (compliments reasoning). Fluency, flexibility and adaptability are significant to the changing of ideas.
  • The effective use of memory for the earlier on learnt knowledge and the ability to make associations and connections with and through this knowledge.
  • Divergent and convergent thinking; ways of thinking in academics have a tendency of valuing convergent ways of thinking which comprise of reasoning, logic, objectivity, analysis, and judgment.

Contradictory thinking brings in to play the right hand brain, associated with openness, intuition, subjectivity, feeling, and emotion, sensory and inventive processes. On the other hand, convergent thinking lays emphasis on one answer while divergent thinking turns out alternative solutions and possibilities. Creativity is about convergent thinking (focused, judgmental analytical and detailed thinking) and divergent thinking (diffuse, free flowing, associated, perceptual and imaginative). It entails the extended abstract (EA) effects of learning like hypothesizing, generating ideas, reflecting, applying the known to ‘far’ domains,’ working with problems that do not have exceptional resolutions (DeWulf and Baillie,1999 p14-15).

Creative presentation also calls for positive attitudes and elevated levels of enthusiasm (passion) evidenced by perseverance and eagerness to work hard. Such attitudes borrow from personal beliefs that difficulties can be triumphed over (self-efficacy). Thus, the processes of learning to progress creativity must build up self-esteem and self-confidence, hold up risk taking in safe environments and assist students to work with messy/intricate and erratic situations where there are no correct and incorrect answers. Working with involvedness in a self-sustained and resolute way is a fact of life that helps students employ their intellectual capabilities in difficult open-ended learning circumstances is a meaningful endeavor for higher education. In regard to such a case, Dr. Amy Marin stated “… two thirds of our class never completed because they were in it for the wrong reasons. I discovered that more and more people were doing it because of the money, my father grew up in a time where graduating from high school was a huge accomplishment. Nowadays, you need way more than a Bachelor’s degree to compete in the job market.”

Creativity is the ability to add value. Scholarly attention in creativity varies widely. Some of the many topics that it is relevant comprise of creativity vs. general intelligence, the mental and neurological practices related with creative activities, character vs. creativity, creativity vs. mental health, the potential to nurture creativity through training and education, particularly as improved by technology, and utilization of an individual’s on hand creative resources to get better the efficiency of learning processes and of the teaching procedures tailored to them. A spotlight on such a situation by Dr. Marin goes like this; “Psychology 101… is designed to be practical in its delivery of concepts but freedom based on how you choose to apply it. Remember when you asked me about my marriage, it goes back to that point, you as an individual make the decision to how much you want Psychology to influence your life. In most cases with Psychology, and I can only speak on the behalf of Psychology, you’re not required to remember what you learned after taking the necessary exams.” Creative acts and creativity are therefore studied across various disciplines and as a result, there are many definitions and approaches.

In a review of scientific study into creativity Michael Mumford made a suggestion: “Over the course of the last decade, however, we seem to have reached a general agreement that creativity involves the production of novel, useful products” (Mumford, 2003, p.110). The most dominant are regularly identified as the four “Ps” – product, process, place and person. A spotlight on creative product regularly come up in attempts to determine creativity in individuals or in creative thoughts framed as flourishing memes. A spotlight on the process is portrayed in cognitive approaches that endeavor to illustrate thought techniques and mechanisms for creative thinking. Various theories that invoke divergent thinking rather than convergent thinking, or theories that describe the staging of a creative process, are first and foremost theories of a creative process. A spotlight on place reflects on the best circumstances where creativity flourishes, such as access to resources, the nature of gatekeepers and degrees of autonomy. A spotlight on the nature of a creative person reflects on the general intellectual habits which include levels of ideation, openness, autonomy, exploratory behavior, expertise, and others.

The product of “creativity” has characteristically been described in one of two ways: either as a thing that is historically new (and comparatively rare), such as discoveries of science, or excellent works of art; or as developing something new in a personal intelligence – an evident innovation for the initiator, not considering whether others have come up with such innovations, or whether other people value such acts of creation. The study of the mental processes and representations underlying creative thought fit in to the domains of cognitive science and psychology.

Sigmund Freud made a suggestion that creativity comes up as a result of aggravated needs for fame, love and fortune, with the energy that was earlier tied up in emotional tension and frustration in the neurosis being sublimated into creative activity. However, Freud later retracted this observation. In the Wallas stage model, creative insights and explanations may be clarified by a process that consists of 5 stages. These stages are:

These stages are:

  • Preparation -introductory work on a problem that centers a person’s mind on the difficulty and investigates the dimensions of the problems.
  • Incubation-at this point the problem is internalized into the unconscious mind and nothing comes out outwardly.
  • Intimation – a creative individual gets a feeling that there is a solution.
  • Insight or illumination-a creative idea bursts into the open from its preconscious dispensation into conscious responsiveness.
  • Verification-at this stage the idea is deliberately elaborated, verified, and then put into application.

In everyday thinking, impulsively envisage substitutes to reality when they consider “if only…” Their thinking counterfactually is analyzed as an example of daily creative processes. Formation of counterfactual substitutes to reality depends on the same cognitive processes to balanced thought. Effects that are positive have various effects on cognitive activities in that they make further cognitive substance for processing, rising the number of cognitive elements that are there for association. As Dr. Marin would put it “…a doctorate is no joke, I got in to finish what I started and I guess the main difference is I was actually pursuing what I loved whereas there were some that had passions away from Psychology, and that’s why they didn’t get their …” it is such effects that result into defocused attention and a more composite cognitive perspective, raising the breadth of elements that seen as relevant to the difficulty. Positive effects also increase the possibility that various cognitive elements will be associated. Jointly, these developments lead positive affect to have a constructive power on creativity. Positive emotions such as love and joy widen a person’s repertoire of actions and cognitions, therefore promoting creativity. Various researchers on this subject argue that positive emotions boost the number of cognitive essentials on hand for association (known as attention scope) and elements that are appropriate to the difficulty (known as cognitive scope).