Time for a lesson in creativity?

creativity May 29, 2021

Is creativity something you are born with? Or can it be learned? It seems a lot of people assume that creativity is innate - and that assumption stifles their opportunity to be… creative.

“Many people simply don’t know that creativity is a trainable skill,” says Professor Gerard Puccio, chair of the Department for Creativity and Change Leadership at the University of Buffalo in the United States.

And psychologists like Professor Puccio have discovered ways to kick-start the learning process that leads to creativity.

According to an article on the BBC website which examines some current research into creativity, we can all learn to think more originally in our day-to-day lives.

Professor Puccio is getting a lot of attention for his Thinking Skills Model, which is a framework for teaching creativity.

His work identifies two types of thinking: convergent and divergent.

Here’s how the BBC explains it: “Divergent thinking is the kind of free-wheeling idea generation that we often associate with the stereotypically scatty inventor, with novel – if sometimes hair-brained – solutions to problems. Convergent thinking, in contrast, concerns the selection and development of the best ideas to make sure that they have potential use.”

Both types of thinking are essential, and each acts as a balance or control to the other. Without divergent thinking, your ideas may be too boring; without convergent thinking, they may be impractical.

A German researcher, Martin Meinel, agrees that creativity is a skill that can be developed: “You can think of creativity as a muscle,” he says. But it needs constant practice to grow and to remain strong. 

Meinel says that with a little work, you may be surprised by your progress, even if you have never shown any great feats of creativity previously.  “The ones who were least creative at the beginning, made the biggest gains.” 

But you have to be prepared to put time and effort into nurturing your creativity. “Creativity is damn hard work,” says Professor Puccio. “It takes a lot of time to develop these skills, like the critical thinking to determine which are the most promising ideas.”