If it’s true that fostering creativity in learning is not just a nice notion, but an imperative, then educators must find a way to integrate it into a system that has not made this intangible, un-testable attribute a priority. More and more, teachers are becoming alerted to the idea that nurturing creative minds is necessary to raise a generation of innovators.
Knowing that it’s important is one thing, but integrating creativity into curriculum is harder than it sounds.
“In order for something to be creative, it has to be task appropriate,” said Dr. James Kaufman, director of the Learning Research Institute at California State University San Bernardino. Along with Dr. Ronald Beghetto, associate professor of Education Studies at University of Oregon, Kaufman has been studying how to make creativity more approachable for educators.
The first step is to help both students and educators understand productive creativity. A wildly creative solution might not solve the problem. Conversely, it’s easy to come up with answers that aren’t unique. Creativity is the ability to produce work that is unique and unexpected as well as appropriate, useful, and adaptive.
The collective understanding puts creativity into two categories — legendary status, like Van Gogh — and everyday creativity, like cooking, scrapbooking, or drawing. Kaufman and Beghetto have dubbed these kinds of creativity “Big C” and “little C.” The problem with this dichotomy, however, is that it privileges the legendary Big C above all else, making it seem that only few have the potential to be creative.