Publication details

Blind Men and an Elephant: What is creativity for?



Year of publication 2015
MU Faculty or unit

Language Centre

Description Creativity has recently become a phenomenon we cannot escape. Apparently, it makes economies grow, societies prosper and cultures flourish. Even universities are called to nurture creativity and become places “where students and teachers engage in creative thinking and learning by doing” (Manifesto for Creativity and Innovation in Europe, 2009). The discrepancy between the current glorification of creativity and its centuries-long neglect from most academic disciplines has caused us to raise the question “What is creativity for?“. Taking a multidisciplinary approach I argue that despite the seeming lack of interest among pedagogical theoreticians, it is extremely beneficial to understand the deep nature of various types of creativity in order to provide good teaching and to generate motivation for learning. Using Csikszentmihalyi´s metaphor of the Indian story of blind men and an elephant for the current state of research-based knowledge of creativity I will touch upon diverse approaches that have been used to study and understand creativity, such as social–personality (Krouwel, Csikszentmihalyi), pragmatic (De Bono, Robinson) and psychometric (Guilford, Torrance) concepts, in order to show the elements and links they may share. A number of practical examples of activities that combine authentic and adapted materials, synchronous and asynchronous, ICT-enhanced and traditional techniques will illustrate the wide range of possible applications to teaching creative methods have. Finally, a confluent view on creativity may help us not only see the “elephant” in its complexity, but also identify areas where we can improve and broaden our individual teaching styles in order to be able to adapt our practice to the diverse needs of our students.
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