Valery Keibler
Director of Faculty and Staff Development

Is the word "Creativity" biased toward art?

When I have asked students if they were creative, they often reflect on their artistic experiences.  When I asked them if they are "original thinkers" they tell me about their thinking in many different subject areas.  Do you find that using the word "creativity" has an art bias?

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Dhanaraj Keezhara

Posted on 9/9/14 8:23:28 AM Permalink

i believe that creativity is an essential part of being human.

Creativity is defined as the tendency to generate or recognize ideas, alternatives, or possibilities that may be useful in solving problems, communicating with others, and entertaining ourselves and others.

Valery Keibler

Posted on 9/6/14 12:11:22 PM Permalink

So, I wonder if there is a better term we should use? I will start a new discussion and see what is out there!

Carol Fonde

Posted on 9/5/14 2:50:27 PM Permalink

Creativity is self expression. One's self can be expressed through any medium of art, through cooking, in the raising a child, etc. The more one gets in touch with deep feeling, the more passionate and unique self expression can be. Self respect generates creativity. This is what I have learned from my students.

Jeremiah Baumann

Posted on 9/5/14 12:27:46 PM Permalink

I think that creativity has definitely become a buzzword that is overused. Creativity in my opinion is just stepping outside the trivial box of standards. I like to tell my students that they are creative when they challenge themselves and others. When designing anything, there is always an easy, textbook, solution in most cases. Push the envelope, make the client think, because then when they see the big picture and get it, you know you've reached them.

Sonja Vass

Posted on 9/2/14 9:59:00 PM Permalink

Creativity in my opinion is the joy of life. We need structure-math, science-when something new & meaningful coincides THAT is where creativity is born. Creativity can be a philsophy, a way of thinking, a new idea, a dance, the way you dance, creativity is an exploration of ourselves and our world. If you would like to share your creativity, give enthusiasm & encouragement to others who post their 'stuff' please join our FB group:

CREATIVE CLUB is a forum where creativity is celebrated. All forms of creativity are welcomed, philosophy, thinking, writing, music, art, dance, ....bring it! Showcase your projects, ideas in the making, art, while encouraging one another. This is a place to connect, support and make OUTRAGEOUS requests. Expect miracles and invite your friends.

Richard Campbell

Posted on 9/2/14 9:51:38 PM Permalink

The word creativity is so overused that it almost has become meaningless. In the context of learning, I prefer to say, creative thinking, creative design, creative science, or creative writing to make it clear what I'm referring to in the discussion. Students at art schools definitely think of their fields as having the monopoly on the word creativity. What is interesting is that where I am (at a Technical Institute that teaches architecture, engineering, interior and product design) the non-design students definitely refer to the designers as the creatives.

I like to distinguish between being "imaginative" and "creative" as the former being less active in production, and the latter being more specifically tied to creating something. When I refer to someone who is productive, has advanced skills, and is imaginative, I call that person a "genuine creative". Someone who is so accomplished in a creative field, to a degree that their work has influenced the world, is called a major or master creative. Everything from the visual arts, to dance, theater, writing, design, photography, music, and allied arts is considered a creative field.

This is not to say that mathematicians, physicists or biologists, for example aren't capable of exhibiting creativity within their fields (the best it seems do use a lot of creative thinking to solve problems and discover things) but I don't use the word creativity alone to describe them. Being an original thinker in science and math is being creative, but the work that scientists do extends way beyond mere creativity, so I actually think it would be a slight to call a person who invents a life saving device, or a new gene therapy a "creative".

Jody Campbell

Posted on 9/2/14 9:43:15 PM Permalink

Creativity is not exclusive to the arts but it does seem to be the first adjective people jump to when describing the arts. Creativity plays such important role in the arts that there is a logical association between the two terms and so when asked about one term the other term pops up in immediate reaction.

Speaking from my own educational experiences he concept of creativity was unfortunately most often taught only in art or art related environments. I can't remember any math or history teacher expecting a creative solution, it was always a right or wrong answer and there was always one way to get to that answer (1+1=2).

So I am not surprised that when a person is asked about creativity their mind jumps to the arts and I think it is part of our jobs as instructors to show that creativity is not exclusive to subjects like writing, visual communication, etc. but is in fact omnipresent.

Imelda Hernández

Posted on 9/2/14 9:10:41 PM Permalink

I believe that creativity is an essential part of being human.

I recommend a book called The way of ideas: How the mind think, strategies of creative imagination. The author is Joan Costa.

Hannah Coale

Posted on 9/2/14 7:20:57 PM Permalink

I have personally banned the word "creative" in my vocabulary. It is so worn out with misuse in the arts and not used nearly enough in science and mathematics. For me, the word has lost all meaning and has left a hole in people's brains because the minute it is used everyone stops being specific.

sandro c mendes

Posted on 8/18/14 1:16:59 PM Permalink

I think that art has no creativity. I am a graphic designer and need creativity at all times, otherwise the work will be mediocre!

Bhuvana Sriram

Posted on 8/8/14 2:03:01 PM Permalink

I agree with you , most of the time students relate 'creativity' with art.I used to explain the students to think differently to solve a problem while teaching mathematics.

Andrew Kutchera

Posted on 8/7/14 9:52:06 PM Permalink

I agree to a certain extent with your question, but I think that a lot of the digital media and entrepreneurship that's going on right now is helping redefine what it means to be creative. Coding can also be a creative act. And starting a business is creative, but it doesn't have the art or design-centric focus.

Derek Cooper

Posted on 7/27/14 6:47:06 PM Permalink

I think it can be biased or even cliche'. I think creativity involves an aspect of research, because even the best creative thinkers had people who influenced them. I think too, open thinking involves a unique approach or perception and not just puffed up thoughts of grandeur.

Mary Slumpff

Posted on 7/26/14 9:42:33 PM Permalink

I think we have traditionally associated the word creative with the artist. I like the way you were able to use a variation on the theme to get your students to think outside the artistic box.

Julia Heckles

Posted on 7/21/14 8:53:38 PM Permalink

I certainly do find that in general the word 'creative' or 'creativity' has an art bias. This narrows and confuses its meaning. For example, the mathematician, if not using a creative approach would be unable break into new ground, old theory needs to be challenged with previously untried theories.

Creative thinking has equal importance in the sciences and the arts. As do the need for rules, discipline, structure and logic apply across sciences and arts. The crux of ingenuity, discovery, problem solving and being at the vanguard of change is in creativity - whatever the field or discipline.

Valery Keibler

Posted on 7/21/14 12:14:15 PM Permalink

In Week 4 of the T4T material, there is an interview with Sir Ken Robinson and he also agrees that "creative" has an art overtone. He feels that a person can be creative in all areas of life, but the word is limiting. More evidence that we need to offer many terms to others to connect with the act of making things/thinking about things differently.

Clint Balsar

Posted on 7/18/14 1:59:14 PM Permalink

I think you have a valid point. I like the idea of finding additional terms that describe what being creative means. Innovative, Spontaneous, Problem-Solver and the like.

Joseph Walsh

Posted on 7/18/14 7:06:04 AM Permalink

I find it has a basis in Originality and Entertaining and Outside the Box thinking.

Eliot Attridge

Posted on 7/18/14 6:43:34 AM Permalink

Yes- which is why we should be pushing for creativity being recognised in all subjects (and making it explicit when creativity is involved).

Valery Keibler

Posted on 7/21/14 12:15:38 PM Permalink

Agreed. A continual focus on creativity as a component and reflective element in assessments is a great idea!

Derek Cooper

Posted on 7/27/14 6:51:37 PM Permalink

I agree the study Creativity and Education: Why it Matters suggests. Creative thinking can apply to so many aspects of life, and as the study suggests, it can apply to many educational subjects. I think creative thinking can change perceptions, and enhance understanding. It can even change the way a person thinks, and interacts with others.

uma ravi

Posted on 7/16/14 8:54:33 AM Permalink

Yes I feel the same in my class.If only I say think in your new ways they come out with new ideas

Valery Keibler

Posted on 7/16/14 1:18:58 PM Permalink

I will add those words to my list of options...Thanks for sharing!