How do you know if you are actually engaged in a creative process? Is there a way to tell?
Evaluating creativity and creative intelligence is not easy. By definition, creativity involves a unique, spontaneous and free-flowing activity, approach or outcome which analysis wants to generalise, regulate and contain in order to understand.
One common confusion is to conflate creativity with “genius” or “talent”.
It’s important to recognise that prodigious skills, or advanced mathematical reasoning, or advanced sensory-motor coordination (the practiced interactions between hand and eye deployed by a skilled painter or musician, for example) are not necessarily creative.
One useful definition put forward by a UK Department of Education report entitled Creative and Cultural Education, and quoted by Susan Greenfield in her book ID: The Quest for Meaning in the 21st Century, is: “Creativity is an imaginative activity fashioned so as to produce outcomes that are both original and of value.”
The report went on to list key components of creative activity:
- Thinking or behaving imaginatively
- Directing these imaginative processes purposefully, towards an objective
- Generating something original as a result
- The outcome has value in relation to the objectives.
In summary, imaginative, purposeful, original, valuable activity: that is creativity in motion.
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