There are many myths about creativity. Here is a summary of some of the most talked about ones, as outlined in an article by Caroline Sharp, in the newsletter Topic, published by the United Kingdom’s National Foundation for Educational Research
1. Myth: Creativity is limited to arts subjects.
Although creativity is often associated with ‘creative’ subjects, such as art and music, creativity is not subject specific. Creativity is a way of approaching problem solving that can be exercised in different areas. On the other hand, creativity does not take place in a vacuum: the way in which children express creativity will be different in different curriculum areas.
2. Myth: Children find it easy to transfer learning from one area/domain to another.
All the evidence shows that most children find it very difficult to transfer learning from one area to another. Knowledge and skills are so context specific that children may simply fail to recognise that something they had already learned can be applied to a new situation. Adults can help children to make the connection.
3. Myth: The creative process is fun: it should not be taken too seriously.
Creativity may seem like a fun, self- indulgent activity to counteract the more serious ‘work’ of the classroom. But the creative process presents many challenges. It requires concentration, persistence and determination to succeed; it may in fact be a frustrating and difficult process. Creativity deserves to be taken seriously.
4. Myth: Creativity is an in-born trait, limited to the talented few. Highly creative people will find their own way, regardless of what happens at school.
Individuals have a different combination of abilities, personality traits and home experiences that make them more or less able to express their creative potential. The study of highly creative adults shows that some of them insisted on ‘being creative’ almost in spite of their educational experiences, but this is not an argument for leaving creativity to chance. Some children will miss the opportunity to develop their creativity without encouragement and support in school or in the home.
5. Myth: Children can get all the creative experience they need from free play and unstructured arts activities.
Children do benefit from free play and unstructured arts activities. But left entirely to their own devices, children’s play and artwork can become routine and repetitive. Children need stimulation and creative problems to solve. Adults can help children to develop their creative skills through play.
6. Myth: You don’t need to be knowledgeable or skilful to be creative.
There is a balance to be struck here, because insisting on extensive knowledge and skill development can be stultifying. On the other hand, knowledge and skill are fundamental to creativity. Existing knowledge of the world is a starting point for young children’s play. How can people express their creativity without developing the necessary skills? How would you know if your contribution was original or appropriate unless you had some understanding of the area?