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[edit] The Benefits of Creativity in the Education System

Sir Ken Robinson has defined creativity as being a process that requires an individual to consistently create new and innovative ideas [1]. Research supports this definition and has demonstrated that creativity is a concept that can be defined in varying manners depending on the circumstance and context of which it is being examined under [2]. Creativity is a beneficial skill to build, we are all born with a need for creativity as well as the ability to be creative. [3]. Creativity is an important skill to be fostered from a young age[4]. It is an ability that promotes idea generation by encouraging learners to come up with an idea and stick with it through all of the mistakes and dead ends.These skills lead to many long term benefits of creativity which are discussed below. Creativity is an essential skill that should be fostered in elementary schools, high schools and universities. Although there are various proposals as to how to best do so, it is imperative that more research be done in this area.[4].

Creativity has recently been viewed as an important and crucial skill that should be mandatory within the education system [5]. However with today’s education creativity is being stifled and suppressed. Research suggests that education today promotes learning for those with the personality types that respond well to conformity and not questioning their learning or authority [6]. Individuals who have a more creative personality tend to have a different learning style ([6]. Teachers however instead of promoting this curiosity tend to punish this sort of behavior and deem it obnoxious [6]. Even though it has been found that when creativity is implemented in the classroom that learners are far more likely to become overachievers [7] Also by promoting creativity in the classroom research has been done to prove that learners attention span is increased due to a creative environment [8]. A creative environment has also been found to increase learners motivation to seek knowledge [8]. Creativity in the the enivronment also aids in the independent learning of individuals and there is more likelihood for independent learning activities [8]. Research suggests that creativity should be the new direction of education because a creative educational environment allows for students ideas to be heard, allows for educational risks to be taken and demonstrates that mistakes can be made and lessons can be learned from these mistakes.

[edit] Short Term Benefits of Creativity

Many children and adolescents are dropping out of school indicating a serious issue with the way the system works now [3]. Many of these children and adolescents drop out due to boredom and a genuine dislike for school [3]. However, if schools were to put creative teaching into practice learners would be more likely to stay interested [3]. schools need to focus on the individual and what each person excels at, and provide an enriching creative environment to succeed within[3]. creativity can also be added to math and science and any subject to create interest by using things such as visual thinking, analogies, metaphors and group activities [6] . Another way to keep children and adolescents interested would be avoid sitting all day and incorporate interactive activities into each subject. All of these methods will keep children and adolescents interested and reduce the drop out rate [8].

[edit] Long Term Benefits of Creativity

The education system moves in one linear direction where as life does not move in one direction without diversion [9]. However a creative education allows for diversion from the linear direction of the education system the way it is now [9]. As well as looking to hire those who will bring creativity and innovation to their work environments[3]. This displays that creativity in school would then lead to creative individuals for hire.

[edit] Fostering Creativity in Elementary School

Creativity researchers suggest that creative people tend to “be happier, achieve more, receive more awards; are more likely than their peers to make patentable inventions, publish articles, develop successful businesses, attain leadership positions later in life; and are in great demand by businesses worldwide" (p. 61). [10] The implications of being creative are numerous, which is why it is important that creativity be fostered at the beginning of a child's education. It is important that children be able to express creativity in elementary school in order to increase their chances of becoming successful as they get older. It seems that changes need to be made to the education system to ensure that children are learning creativity. While parents and other professionals may be curious about what these changes might be, it seems that children are just as interested. In a brief interview with widely known speaker on education and creativity, Sir Ken Robinson, a young girl asks him about the changes that are needed in the education system in order to meet the needs of the twenty-first century, as well as the three myths of creativity. [11]

[edit] School Curriculum and Creativity

It has been suggested that creativity, in terms of thinking and learning, is a necessary skill that should be developed throughout a child’s education. [12] A case study looking at elementary school teachers suggests that it is important to foster creativity in classrooms because school is seen as more enjoyable for students when non-academic talents are emphasized.[12] Also, creativity helps students develop skills, such as flexibility, adaptability, and originality, which are skills needed in a twenty-first-century society. [12] It is important that children develop these skills related to creativity while they are in elementary school, so they can continue to build their talents as they continue through school.

The findings from this sample looking at elementary school teachers, suggests that the teaching environment plays an essential role in the development of creativity, yet little attention is given to teachers’ voices on the matter. [12] Findings suggest that while the importance of promoting and fostering creativity has been stressed as important to the education system, teachers often find it difficult to promote creativity due to curriculum, objectives, resources, and time. [12] It seems that most teachers feel pressure to focus their lessons in a way that is most appropriate for ensuring that curriculum objectives are covered, as well as providing proof that they have met deadlines. [12] This suggests, that while elementary school teachers may want to spark creativity in their students, they are not always able to, due to curriculum expectations.

Widely recognized leader in the development of education and creativity, Sir Ken Robinson, shared his thoughts on curriculum and creativity in the classroom. [13] Sir Ken Robinson explains why the current curriculum needs to be changed in order to promote creativity within the education system.

[edit] The Role Teachers Play in Fostering Creativity

While creativity is seen as important in the education system, past research suggests that teachers’ effects on student creativity have been relatively negative. [10] For this reason, the relationship between creative teaching behaviours and student achievement was considered. [10] The framework for this study suggests that teachers can foster creativity by (a) teaching creative ways to think, (b) giving chances for choice and discover, (c) boosting intrinsic motivation, (d) creating a learning environment beneficial for creativity, and (e) encouraging opportunities for imagination and fantasy. [10] However, results reveal that, (a) most teachers do not integrate any teaching strategies that promote student creativity; (b) teachers who do stimulate student creativity produce successful students; and (c) classrooms with a high number of minority students and poorer performing individuals receive much less creative teaching. [10] It seems that children who may need creative teaching the most, minorities and poorer performing individuals, are not receiving this creative teaching. However, if elementary school teachers implemented strategies to foster student creativity, the education system would likely produce a greater amount of successful students.

Since teachers play such a large role in the development of children’s creativity, it is important to look at the relationship between their beliefs and the students’ learning. [14] It seems that elementary school teachers whose beliefs were more sophisticated about the nature of knowledge, were more likely to resort to practices that promoted creative thinking in students. [14] In this study, teachers who were intrinsically motivated to do creative work practiced and promoted more creativity. [14] Goal orientation toward learning/mastery, was the most significant teacher feature, which had an important impact on all instructional practices that were looked at in the study which promote creative thinking in students. [14] Overall, it seems that teachers who place a higher value on creativity, or are more creative themselves, are more likely to foster and promote creativity in their elementary school classes.

[edit] Positive and Negative Outcomes Related to Creativity

The literature shows that creative individuals are sometimes underachievers in school. [15] This idea has been taken further to suggest that if creative needs are not met, then individuals are at risk for becoming underachievers. [15] Creative underachievers do not have the opportunity or encouragement to be creative and self-expressive; do not feel social acceptance and belonging; receive teachers’ criticism when they do not follow directions and finish tasks on time, and failure to memorize. [15] For this reason, it is important that creativity be fostered within elementary schools to ensure children start their education off with success.

On the other hand, another study found that 3rd, 5th, and 6th grade students who had participated in a special physical education program developed and maintained better motor creativity than their peers, for more than nine years after. [16] It seems that the sense of freedom the participants felt as a result of the program was positive, and allowed them to feel good about himself or herself, as well as accepted by the people around them. [16] Overall, it seems that creativity is an important skill for all children to develop in elementary school. If children are struggling in school, fostering their creativity may be a way to get them motivated and enjoying school again. When creativity is boosted in children during their elementary school years, they are likely to maintain this heightened creativity, thus leading to a more positive life.

[edit] Fostering Creativity in High School

In schools around the world creativity can be seen as a valued skill to gain for future employment to promote independence, self confidence, initiative, persistence and a reception of new ideas[17].
The British National Curriculum and the Cypriot National Curriculum recognize that creativity is important within a high school setting for students to develop problem solving skills[18].These skills are important life skills for future employment. The potential benefits for gaining these skills is that the adolescent will grow up to be an employable independent adult. Its important for adolescents to develop these skills to help with their self esteem. County high school promotes creativity in education. Weseca County high school incorporates art into the curriculum to offer the adolescents the best classroom experience. Weseca County believes that creativity will help high school students prepare for the future in allowing them to create new innovative ideas that may help them in their future career. Art is believed to promote confidence in students within high school that can be applied to all aspects of life. A grade 12 student comments “ there is something rewarding from making something out of nothing”[19].Schools tend to rob kids of finding solutions to their own problems by discouraging creative tasks within the classroom[20]. The students know how to problem solve but they struggle with finding solutions to their own problems [20]. With creativity included in education adolescents have a broader understanding of aspects and are more accepting of new ways of going about problems, which can assist them in their future[20].

[edit] Lack of Creativity in the Classroom

Schools should hire teachers with a passion for teaching to encourage creativity in their students[20]. If a teacher taught a class that included all open-ended questions it would foster creativity immensely. Students would be able to come up with their own answers to the open ended questions without any restrictions on their imagination [20]. Creativity is lacking in high schools because teachers are unaware of how they can promote creativity within a classroom setting. The validity of creativity tests within high school is questioned because there is only a very slight relationship show between high IQ and creativity [21]. IQ tests identify academically gifted children and miss over two-thirds of the most creative individuals in high school [22]. Creativity can contribute to IQ but is not measured among IQ tests. Students seem to be more engaged in the classroom setting when creativity is fostered which is a significant predictor of motivation and allows children to enhance their creativity in a high school setting [23]. Students enjoy the ability to have some control over their academic setting and being allowed to contribute to whats being taught. If schools do not promote creativity within the classroom then it’s likely the creative individual will struggle throughout the rest of their academic career [17]. Problems with creativity in the classroom in high school are mostly due to the teachers understanding of creativity. Teachers are not trained on how to teach creativity within a classroom setting. Teachers demonstrate little effort in planning lessons that challenge students and have little variety of teaching styles causing low creativity in the classroom setting [24]. The general style of teaching within a high school setting is for the teacher to dictate material to the class with very little student involvement of the student within the classroom. Schools could implement a training session for teachers on how they can accurately include creativity into the classroom.

[edit] Challenges with Creativity

Adolescents who are creative suffer in an academic high school classroom. Students who are creative seem to be stereotyped as underachievers in the classroom and are often disruptive and challenge the teacher during her class[22]. The classrooms in high school do not promote students creativity. Teachers often don’t promote creativity in the classroom because they don’t know how to promote creativity. They may also be afraid of creativity because they are not creative themselves. The relationship between creativity and behaviour problems among underachieving elementary and high school students. Creativity Research Journal, 22, 185-193.</ref>. Teachers prefer student traits such as acceptance of authority, conformity, logical thinking and responsibility, which allows for an easy classroom setting [22]. Students who are creative in high school often struggle and are unable to succeed in the average classroom setting. They are not as interested in the normal work load and want opportunities to express themselves through creative assignments.

[edit] Fostering Creativity in University

Although it is acknowledged that creativity has been recognized as being considerably important within society, according to research it has been found to be lacking in all types of education, from elementary school to university [25]. It is imperative to realize the impact that creativity has in our future, specifically socially and economically [26]. As the construct of creativity is so essential, the responsibility of fostering it in students is generally left up to educators and professors [2]. Students choose to attend university in order to further their knowledge base, and being in an environment that fails to foster creativity will not allow them to gain the skills necessary to succeed in their futures [27]. However, according to a study performed at McMaster University, only an editional 34.5% of Professors actually make an effort to foster creativity and claim that it is a main learning objective within their classes [2].

[edit] Developing Creative Thinking Skills

Professors at Lund University published an article claiming that expected rewards, evaluations, deadlines and competition actually do further damage in fostering an environment that enriches creativity [28]. With a lack of creativity being fostered within the university atmosphere, it is difficult to expect the system to produce individuals who will have the ability to visualize unique solutions to future problems [25]. Critical thinking skills are a fundamental element in the current university curriculum, but creative thinking skills should be considered to be equally as important. Developing creative thinking skills would ensure that students would be better able to produce original ideas, use imagination when dealing with tough issues, and search for unparalleled solutions [29]. Creativity should be considered an essential building block within the educational system, as it is a substantial component for success within the professional work world [29].

[edit] Research Findings in Universities

A study completed by Eunice (1996) surveyed 428 university students and asked them questions regarding their own creativity levels, their professors creativity levels, and the creativity levels of their peers [30]. Results indicated that students felt confident in stating that they were more creative then their professors [30]. Students also acknowledged that their peers were far more creative then their professors, and that they felt their professors did little to foster creativity in their classrooms [30]. Eunice (1996) discovered that other then the art students, students rarely, if ever, felt they had the opportunity to be creatively expressive in their classroom environment [30]. It has been debated whether or not creativity is a domain specific skill, that is only taught in certain disciplines, or a general phenomenon that exists in various experiences [2]. Further research by Eunice (2001) found evidence that students may feel to socially repressed in the classroom to express their true creativity [26]. This research clearly indicates that creativity must be developed and fostered as an individually specific skill in the context of university.

[edit] Implementing Policies to Foster Creativity

In order to ensure that all universities foster creativity in a universal manner, guidelines and policies should be placed in existence [27]. If however, professors fail to ensure that creativity is a learning objective, an article written by The Centre for Learning at Iowa State University suggest that the best way for students to take creativity into their own hands is to be as creative as possible when choosing their courses [31]. However, students are limited creatively when choosing their courses as there are certain prerequisites they must fulfill that vary depending on their chosen program. While certain programs aid in the development of creativity, such as art and drama programs, others do little to foster it as a skill [27]. Dr. Rosa Aurora suggests claims that students need to identify their own creative potential through exploratory behaviour, and professors need to foster creativity in the classroom using certain techniques, such as role playing, creative problem solving and group work [32]. A study completed by Bruton (2011) instituted a course that focused specifically on creativity at one university. Pre tests and post tests were implemented and results indicated that the average students creativity score was raised by editorial 13.25 points at the completion of the course [27]. It is evident that in order for individuals to be successful and passionate in their chosen field, it is imperative that society place more effort into fostering creativity in university students, as this will motivate them to reach their full potential [27]. Fostering creativity in students from a young age is beneficial for their development and both their personal and educational advancement. Further research should be completed in this area in order to determine the most appropriate methods for fostering creativity.

[edit] Notes and References

  1. Leading and Learning, Bruce. (February 14, 2007). The Importance of Creativity. Retrieved from
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Marquis, E. & Vajoczki, S. (2012). Creative Differences: Teaching Creativity Across the Disciplines, International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 6 (1), 1-13.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 Robinson, S. K. (2009, Sept). Interview by A.M. Azzam [Web Based Recording]. Why creativity now? a conversation with sir ken robinson. Education Leadership.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Sawyer, R. K. (2012, August 12). Schools that foster creativity. Ted weekends , Retrieved from
  5. Ferrari, A., Cachia, R., & Punie, Y. (2009). Innovation and creativity in education and training in the eu member states: Fostering creative learning and supporting innovative teaching. JRC technical notes,
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 Westby, E. L., & Dawson, V. L. (1995). Creativity: Asset or burden in the classroom?. Creativity research journal , 8(1), 1-10.
  7. Fasko, D. (2001). Education and creativity. Creativity research journal , 13(3), 317-327.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 Liu, E. Z., Lin, C., Jian, P. H., & Liou, P. Y. (2012). The dynamics of motivation and learning strategy in a creativity-supporting learning environment in education . Turkish online journal of educational technology, 11(1),
  9. 9.0 9.1 S.K. , R. (2012, Jul 12). Do schools kill creativity?.Huffington Post.
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 Schacter, J., Meng Thum., Y., & Zifkin, D. (2006). How Much Does Creative Teaching Enhance Elementary School Students’ Achievement? Journal of Creative Behavior, 40, 47-72.
  11. Gault, C. (2010, September 28). Can U.S students compete? [Video file]. Retrieved from
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 12.4 12.5 Dobbins, K. (2009). Teacher creativity within the current education system: a case study of the perceptions of primary teachers. Education, 37, 3-13.
  13. Shepherd, J. (2009, February 10). Fertile minds need feeding [Are schools stifling creativity? Ken Robinson tells Jessica Shepherd why learning should be good for the soul]. Retrieved from
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 14.3 Hong, E., Hartzell, S.A., & Greene, M.T. (2009). Fostering creativity in the classroom: Effects of teachers' epistemological beliefs, motivation, and goal orientation. Journal of Creative Behavior, 43, 192-408.
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 Hee Kim, K., & VanTassel-Baska, J. (2010). The Relationship Between Creativity and Behavior Problems Among Underachieving Elementary and High School Students. Creativity Research Journal, 22, 185-193.
  16. 16.0 16.1 Pagona, B., & Costas, M. (2008). The Development of Motor Creativity in Elementary School Children and its Retention. Creativity Research Journal, 20, 72-80.
  17. 17.0 17.1 Alencer.E. (1993). Thinking in the future: The need to promote creativity in the educational context. Gifted Educational International, 93, 93-96.
  18. Diakidoy. I, & Kanari. E. (1999). Creativity is promoted as a general educational goal within high school curriculum. Creativity is seen as a positive skill that develops and can be applied later in life. It is important to include creativity in education to allow students to further develop their skills so they can be developed throughout future education. Gifted Education International, 9. 93-96.
  19. Carison, M. (2013, February 13). Waseca county Waseca county article students believe art and creativity have value beyond words. Janesville Argus. Retrieved from:
  20. 20.0 20.1 20.2 20.3 20.4 Medbery, J. (2012, May.1). Reinventing education to teach creativity and entrepreneurship. Fast Company. Retrieved from: and-entrepreneurship.
  21. Edwards, M & Tyler, L. (1965). Intelligence, creativity and achievement in a nonselective public junior high school. Jounral of Educational Psychology, 56, 96-99.
  22. 22.0 22.1 22.2 Kim. K, & Baska, J. (2010). The relationship between creativity and behaviour problems among underachieving elementary and high school students. Creativity Research Journal, 22, 185-193.
  23. Shernoff, D., Csikszentmihaly, M., Schneider, B., & Shernoff, E. (2003). Student engagement in high school classrooms from the perspective of flow theory. School Psychology Quarterly, 18, 158-176.
  24. Deemr, S. (2004). Class goal orientation in high school classrooms: revealing links between teacher beliefs and classroom environments. Educational Research, 46, 73-90.
  25. 25.0 25.1 Eyadat, W. & Eyadat, Y. (2010). Instructional technology and creativity among university students: the missing link, World Journal on Educational Technology, 2 (2), 87-99.
  26. 26.0 26.1 Eunice, M. L. (2001). Obstacles to personal creativity among university students, Gifted Education International, 15 (2), 133-140.
  27. 27.0 27.1 27.2 27.3 27.4 Bruton, D. (2011). Learning creativity and design for innovation, International Journal of Technology and Education, 21, 321-333.
  28. Hennessey, B. (November 18, 2011). Expectation of Reward Kills Creativity. Retrieved from .
  29. 29.0 29.1 Craft, A. (2003). The Limits to Creativity in Education: Dilemmas for the Educator, British Journal of Educational Studies, 51 (2), 113-127.
  30. 30.0 30.1 30.2 30.3 Eunice, M. L. (1996). University students’ evaluation of their own level of creativity and their teachers’ and colleagues’ level of creativity, Gifted Education International, 11, 128-132 .
  31. Iowa State University. (June 7, 2011). Fostering Creativity. Retrieved from
  32. Aurora, R. (May, 2010). The Relevance of Creativity in Education. Retrieved from .
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