© 1993, David S. Walonick, Ph.D.
How do we define creativity? The most frequent answers
are "new", "unique".
"different", and "better". The
dictionary provides little assistance: "creativity:
the ability to create". Creativity consultant Joyce
Wycoff (1991) defines creativity as "new and
useful". Creativity is the act of "seeing
things that everyone around us sees while making
connections that no on else has made." (p. 22)
At the other end of the spectrum, B.F Skinner (1974),
the foremost expert on behaviorist theory, describes
creative individuals as very good at generating mutations.
He points out that people who produce more mutations are
more likely to generate one that is reinforcing. The
behaviorist theory falls short because it fails to
recognize or explain the uniqueness of individuals.
In the classic book Science and Human Values,
(Harper & Row. 1956) J. Bronowski states that the
creative activity of the scientist and the artist are the
same. Creativity is an attempt to discover "hidden
likeness" in the universe. It is a search for
recognition and order.
Many writers and artists have described creativity as
something external to the body. They believe that the
source of inspiration exists outside the person. Author
Joseph Heller describes his own experience. "I don't
understand the process of imagination though I know that
I am very much at its mercy. I feel like these ideas are
floating around in the air and they pick me to settle
upon. The ideas come to me. I don't produce them at
will" (Zdenek, 1983, p.10).
In contrast, business analysis Scott Witt (1983)
believes that new ideas are never original, but rather,
they involve the combining and adaptation of other
people's ideas. He refers to the brightest people in
business, science and arts, as Creative Copycats
because their ideas are an adaptation of other products,
formulas or systems.
Child development author Joseph Chilton Pearce
describes creativity as "moving from the known to
the unknown." Culture exerts a negative force on
creativity according to Pearce, however, "were it
not for creativity, culture itself would not be
created". (Pearce, 1974, p. 23)
Donald Hebb, one of the foremost theoreticians on the
subject of the human brain, believes that "every
normal human being is creative all the time...it is not
something that occurs only in outstanding
individuals". (Restak, 1984, p. 228)
Creativity is an expression of our unique perspective
to a situation or problem. It transcends our desire to be
part of the group. Abraham Maslow referred to
self-actualization as the need to express our individual
talents and become the best that we can. It is a drive to
fulfill our potential. Maslow identified fifteen traits
of a self-actualized person. These included highly valued
traits such as self-acceptance, spontaneity,
independence, tolerance, altruism, ethics, and capable of
loving others. (Wycoff, 1991, p. 24)
Wycoff (1991, p. 26) identifies four traits found in
1) They are willing to take risks and have the courage
to be wrong.
2) They are willing to express their thoughts and
3) They have a sense of humor.
4) They accept and trust their own intuition.
David Perkins, of Harvard University, has identified
several other traits common in creative people: (Wycoff,
1991, p. 27)
5) They have a drive to find order in a chaotic
6) They are interested in unusual problems, as well as
7) They have the ability to make new connections and
challenge traditional assumptions.
8) They temper idea creation by testing and judgment.
9) They enjoy pushing the boundaries of their
10) They are motivated by the problem itself, rather
than any kind of reward or recognition.
Wycoff believes that the traits of creativity can be
taught. She points out the near total failure of our
educational system to encourage and teach these
characteristics. In fact, it would seem that our schools
are teaching the opposite traits (e.g., discipline,
conformity, silence, and "safe" thinking).
Robert Root-Bernstein, a physiologist at Michigan State
University, points out that "our greatest scientists
are generally skilled in non-verbal thinking, yet we
usually discourage science students from studying
artistic subjects". (Wycoff, 1991, p. 178)
The phases involved in the creative process were first
described by German physiologist Herman Helmholtz in the
late nineteenth century. (Edwards, 1986, p. 3) He
identified three stages of creativity: saturation,
incubation and illumination. In the first
decade of twentieth century, French mathematician Henri
Poincaré identified a fourth step that follows the other
three. Verification is putting a solution into
concrete form and checking it for errors or usefulness.
Our understanding of the creative process remained stable
until the early 1960s, when American psychologist Jacob
Getzels proposed the idea that a preliminary stage of
creativity involves finding or formulating a problem.
(Edwards, 1986, p. 4) This preliminary stage was named first
insight by another American psychologist, George
Current thinking is that the creative process does
involve at least five distinct phases: first insight,
saturation, incubation, illumination and verification.
Illumination happens in a flash--it is the brief moment
of the "Ah-Ha!" experience. The other phases of
creativity vary dramatically in the amount of time
involved. Saturation and verification are easily
understood. Saturation is the information gathering
stage. There have been volumes written on how to do
research, and libraries are designed to assist in
gathering information. The process of verification is the
implementation or testing of an idea, and it is also
easily accessible to our human understanding. Note that
both saturation and verification have to do with
conscious thought. The other three phases (first insight,
incubation, and illumination) are more mysterious and
operate at some sort of subconscious level.
Betty Edwards (1987), a professor of art at California
State University, identified four experiences of a
creative artist. During the initial stages of drawing, an
artist works for long periods without a sense of time
passing. While drawing, the artist has a feeling that the
object is somehow related to, or looks like something
else. The artist has a need to work in isolation, away
from verbal interruption. The artist has a special way of
seeing the whole field, while somehow being able to
perceive the relationships of the individual parts.
Of particular interest is the phase of illumination.
Edwards (1986, p. 39) proposes that the "Ah-Ha"
is a visual experience. She points out that many of the
words relating to creativity involve visual reference.
Creativity is the: "the ability to see
problems in new ways", "to see things
from a new perspective", and "the knack of looking
for answers in unexpected places". The dictionary
defines illumination as "throwing light on a subject
in order to see it better". Insight, foresight,
hindsight, and clear-sightedness all
contain visual reference. The flash of illumination is
accompanied by feeling of certainty and exhilaration.
Author Joe Khatena (1978) describes four creative
thinking abilities: 1) Fluency is the ability to
produce many ideas for a given task. 2) Flexibility
is the ability to show a conceptual shift in thinking
relative to a given task. 3) Originality is the
ability to produce unusual or clever ideas that not many
other people think of. 4) Elaboration is the
ability to add details to the basic idea.
Barriers to creativity
There are many obstacles to creativity. The major
barrier is the little voice in our heads giving all the
reasons why we can't do something, or why something won't
work. We must silence the voice during the initial stages
of creative process. Logical, critical and judgmental
thoughts will reduce the quality of the initial creative
Edwards proposes the idea that language itself might
actually hinder creative thinking. She believes that direct
perception is an integral part of our thinking, a way
of "seeing" without using words.
One of the major obstacles to creativity is the fear
of rejection. Rejection can become disabling when is
stops us from taking action. Fear of rejection, or
rejection itself, can stifle creativity.
Morris Berman (1989) made adaptations to Freud's
theory and discusses how creativity is thwarted in the
young child. Type I occurs when the child's sensual
exploration of her surroundings is hindered. Curiosity is
minimized and the child no longer engages in exploration
of the environment. Type II comes as a result of psychic
upheaval. While the child's creativity survives, she is
plagued by the pain and conflict of neurosis. Type III
creativity emerges when the child avoids the emotional
trauma of repression and creativity exists without
conflict. (Ferguson,1990, p. 180)
Freud's paradigm for understanding creativity does not
appear to be useful or correct, possibly because he dealt
so much with the abnormal. In fact, several researchers
have found that creative people tend to be more depressed
than the general population. They are more prone to
alcoholism, mood-swings and suicide. Emotionally
disturbed and behavior-disorientated children often show
creativity levels exceeding their peers. It is
interesting, however, that while these relationships
exist, creativity itself is manifested during
comparatively stable emotional states. Does emotional
instability generate creativity, or does creativity
produce emotional instability, or does the relationship
involve some hidden variable not yet understood? The
answers have yet to be determined.
Joseph Chilton Pearce believes that
"culturization" is the reason we loose our
creative abilities. He states that "cultural
conditioning makes it unlikely that we ever consider
anything outside the confines of cultural
acceptances". (Pearce, 1974, p. 49) Pearce believes
that creativity is associated with a hypnotic-like trance
state. The ability to enter a trance-like state appears
at around age seven in all cultures, and in western
cultures, it disappears during early adolescence. Only
20% of the adults in this country retain their childhood
ability to enter a deep trance.
Piaget discusses preadolescent "reality
adjustment" as the last phase of a child's
"magical thinking". This, according to Piaget,
is the beginning of true maturation. Pearce takes an
exactly opposite view, and discusses the idea that the
preadolescent's "reality adjustment" marks the
loss of creative potential. Beginning around age nine or
ten, the child begins to adopt a kind of cultural logic,
that defines their perceptual reality. By age fourteen,
the adolescent has internalized the cultural reality, and
thoughts outside the limits of cultural acceptance are
difficult or impossible. Our "world view"
becomes an editor of our precepts. Pearce states that
"acculturation subverts, but never destroys
creativity". (Pearce, 1974, p. 197)
Creativity is a popular topic today, and several books
and journals articles are dedicated to the subject. Many
people believe that creativity is somehow dependent on
"natural talent". Most researchers, however,
indicate that the skills involved in creativity are
something that can be taught and learned.
In A Whack on the Side of the Head, Roger von
Oech (1983) describes the characteristics that promote
the creative process. These might be thought of as
guidelines for a brainstorming session:
1) Generate as many answers as possible. Don't look
for the one "right answer".
2) Don't ask if something is "logical".
3) Set aside all rules.
4) Don't judge the quality of an idea by looking at
5) Allow ambiguity.
6) Don't worry about being wrong.
7) Indulge yourself...let yourself play.
8) Let yourself go into new areas.
9) Be foolish and silly.
10) Accept your own creativity.
11) Make yourself receptive to new ideas.
Scott Witt adds that confidence, independence, and
curiosity are the prime ingredients of ingenuity. Witt
maintains that creative people have unbending confidence
in their ability to come up with solutions to problems,
and that they enjoy leaving the beaten path and exploring
unusual possibilities. Most researchers stress the visual
aspect of creativity, however, Witt emphasizes the power
of word associations (wildcatting) in generating
ideas. (Witt, 1983)
In the late 1970s, E. Paul Torrance from the
Department of Educational Psychology at the University of
Georgia, conducted several experiments to determine if
creative thinking can be taught. After numerous trials
involving hundreds of subjects, Torrance and coworkers
found that brief and intensive training can change our
thinking to include more right-brain processes. After
training, subjects were better able to apply right and
left hemisphere modes in a complementary way. (Ferguson,
Recent research by Terry Greene and Helga Noice states
that the act of complementing students on their clothing,
hair and/or jewelry will improve their performance on
creativity tests. While their sample sizes are small,
startling differences are apparent. Creativity is somehow
related to the emotional state of the creator. (Ferguson,
Texas A&M chemist Thomas Taylor (1983) explored
the effects of a sensory deprivation float tank on
learning. Floaters listened to lessons with floating in
the tank. Nonfloaters listened to the same lessons in a
quite darkened room. Three levels of learning were
measured: rote learning, the ability to apply information
to new situations, and the ability to use the information
in unique and creative ways (synthesis thinking). Taylor
reported that floaters learned better for all three
levels, but that they were vastly superior in synthesis
Michael Hutchison in Megabrain (1986) points
out the importance of stimulating the brain with
challenges, change, ambiguities, and novel experiences. A
variety of devices have been developed by inventors who
claim to be able to enhance creativity.
An electronic device known as the Alpha Stim
applies microampere current through the earlobes to
stimulate the brain. Physician William Bauer (1983) of
Case Western University believes that the electricity
produced by the device alters the neurochemicals in the
brain, thus establishing the energy for creation. Another
device known as the BT5 developed by Bob Beck uses
a similar technique to apply current to the indentation
in the jaw below the earlobes. I have used the BT5 on
several occasions. While it does evoke a slight change in
consciousness, I cannot report any perceptible
improvement in my own creativity.
Several techniques and devices have been designed to
produce brain wave entrainment at theta and alpha
frequencies. These brain waves are characterized by low
frequencies (between five and twelve Hertz), and are
associated with relaxation, lucid dreaming, and
creativity. The reasoning is that by artificially
altering brain waves to the frequencies that are
associated with creativity, we can thereby enhance
creativity. The main idea is that the brain can be
induced to "lock on" (i.e., to become
entrained) to an artificially produced signal.
Biophysicist Gerald Oster from the New York Mount
Sinai School of Medicine, reported in 1973 that two tones
of different frequencies could produce brain wave
entrainment if the tones were played into different ears.
The beat frequency, or the difference between the two
tones, could produce brain wave entrainment in the delta,
theta and alpha frequencies. Author Robert Monroe
referred to this phenomenon as frequency following
response, and designed and patented a technique for
creating audio tapes called Hemi-Sync. In a series
of EEG experiments, Monroe reported that audio
entrainment also caused both hemispheres of the brain to
work in unison. (Hutchison, 1986, p. 199) I have used
several brands of entrainment audio tapes on many
occasions. They do indeed produce rapid relaxation and a
change of consciousness. I usually fall asleep quite
quickly when I listen to these tapes. I cannot report any
direct improvement in my own creativity, although I would
describe my brief presleep thoughts as
"strange", or kind of "off-the-wall".
Neurophysiologist W. Gray Walter conducted a series of
experiments in the 1950s using flashing lights to produce
brain wave entrainment. During photic driving
(entrainment), both hemispheres of the brain would work
in unison. During the 1960s and 1970s a flurry of studies
explored the photo driving phenomena. The result is that
many photo driving devices have been designed. The most
popular, known as the Synchro-Energizer, was
patented by Ohio psychiatrist Denis Gorges. (Hutchison,
1986) It uses a combination of flashing lights and audio
tones to produce brain wave entrainment. I have used a
device similar to the Synchro-Energizer on many
occasions. It does produce a rapid change of
consciousness, and again, I would describe my thoughts as
sort of "different". However, I do not recall
any creative revelations while using the device. Like the
Hemi-Sync tapes, I generally fall asleep very quickly.
Physicist Bob Beck has designed another entrainment
device known as the Magnetic Mood Pacer II. This
device produces a pulsed magnetic field at 7.83 Hertz to
produce a magnetic field similar to the background
radiation of the Earth. Beck claims his device makes
people feel good (Hutchison, 1986). I developed a similar
device and have used it on myself and others on many
occasions. EEG experiments confirm that brain waves do
indeed become entrained with rotating magnetic fields and
magnetically pulsed fields.
Magnetic field generators are different from the other
devices. They do not require the active participation of
the person being exposed to the magnetic fields. They are
nonintrusive, and there is no conscious awareness of
their presence. Creative endeavors such as brainstorming
sessions might be enhanced by the artificial generation
of alpha and theta-range magnetic fields.
Several drugs have been developed to promote
intelligence. A particular class of these drugs is known
as nootropics. None of the nootropics are FDA
approved, so there are no sales in the United States,
however, they can be purchased over the counter in most
European countries and Mexico. (Dean and Morgenthaler,
1990, p. 43-51)
Piracetam is the most well-known nootropic. A large
number of animal and human double-blind controlled
studies indicate that piracetam does indeed enhance
cognition. In a 1976 study of rats, neurophysiologists
Buresova and Bures found that piracetam promotes the flow
of information between the right and left hemispheres of
the brain. Communication between the hemispheres is often
associated with creative thought. In a more recent study,
Wilsher Dilanni and a team of neurologists (1985) found
significant improvements in dyslexic children. They
theorized that the increased communication between the
hemispheres was responsible for the improvement.
In spite of the U.S. ban, piracetam is being
manufactured and marketed by most major pharmaceutical
companies. Whether or not piracetam actually enhances
creativity has yet to be determined. However, the number
of brand names that the drug is marketed under stands as
a testimonial to the public's perception of its
usefulness. These include: Avigilen, Cerebroforte,
Cerebrospan, Cetam, Dinagen, Encefalux, Encetrop,
Euvifor, Gabacet, Genogris, Memo-Puren, Nootron, Nootrop,
Nootropil, Nootropyl, Normabrain, Norzetam, Novocetam,
Pirroxil, Pscoton, Stimucortex, and UCB-6215.
Another class of drugs believed to enhance creativity
is known as psychotropics. These include highly
controversial and illegal drugs such as marijuana, LSD25,
mescaline, and psilocybin. While government hysteria has
essentially banned current research, a variety of studies
conducted in the 1960's indicated that the illumination
stage of creativity can be enhanced by the use of these
drugs. In 1966, Willis Harman and a team of psychologists
conducted a pilot study to examine the effects of
mescaline sulfate on creativity. (Tart, 1972, p. 455-472)
They used several objective instruments (Purdue
Creativity Test, Miller Object Visualization, and Within
Embedded Figures Test), as well as subjective reports
from a variety of sources including the subjects' self
evaluations, psychiatric assessments, and industry
feedback. Significant improvements in creativity were
reported. Subjects' self-reports suggested eleven
possible mechanisms to explain the improvement. Note the
striking similarities between subject's beliefs about
their creativity, and the traits proposed by Wycoff,
Perkins and von Oech.
1) Low inhibition and anxiety
2) Capacity to structure problems in a larger context
3) High fluency and flexibility of ideation
4) High capacity for visual imagery and fantasy
5) High ability to concentrate
6) High empathy with external processes and objects
7) High empathy with people
8) Accessibility of unconscious resources
9) Ability to associate seemingly dissimilar elements
in meaningful ways
10) High motivation
11) Capacity to visualize the completed solution in
Brain waves of creativity
Roger Sperry and Michael S. Gazzaniga performed a
series of experiments on epileptic patients in the early
late 1950s and early 1960s, where they cut the corpus
callosum which connects the two brain hemispheres. When
the two halves of the brain could not communicate with
each other, it became clear that each half had its own
traits. The left brain is responsible for language,
logic, numbers, sequence, detail, linear processes,
symbolic representation and making judgments. The right
brain processes images, rhythm, music, imagination,
color, patterns, emotions and is nonjudgmental. (Restak,
1984, p. 246-248)
The right and left hemispheres of the brain are in
communication with each other through the corpus
callosum, a bundle of nerves joining the two halves of
the brain. Because of their different modes of thinking,
the two halves of our brains might experience conflicting
interpretations of awareness. Many theorists have
suggested that creativity is a right-brain experience,
however, some believe that creativity somehow involves
the communication between the hemispheres.
Norman Don of the University of Illinois studied EEG
patterns of individuals while they were meditating.
Subjects self-reported peak experiences were preceded by
a significant collapse of the alpha frequencies.
Elmer and Alice Green (1977) of the Menninger
Foundation believe that theta brain waves are the source
of creative thinking. They used EEG biofeedback to teach
people to enter the theta state. Participants reported
that while in the theta state, they relived (actually
experienced) past long-forgotten events. The also found
that participants had "new and valid ideas or
synthesis of ideas, not primarily by deduction, by
springing by intuition, from unconscious sources".
(Hutchison, 1986, p. 97) One hypothesis is that theta
waves, which have high amplitudes and low frequencies,
somehow enable the brain cells to form new neural
Lester Fehmi, director of the Princeton Biofeedback
Research Institute, believes that hemispheric
synchronization may provide one of the clues to
understanding creativity. Synchronization occurs when
both hemispheres of the brain generate the same brain
waves. Fehmi describes the synchronization experience as
a feeling of "into-it-ness", or a feeling of
being more unified with the experience. Hutchison, 1986,
Chemist Thomas Taylor studied the EEG patterns of
students while they synthesized information, by using the
information in a creative way to solve a new problem.
Taylor found that brain waves were in the theta state at
the moment when the concepts "made sense" to
the students. During the brief theta experience, Taylor
reported a series of powerful fluctuations taking place
throughout the brain. (Hutchison, 1986, p. 292)
Creativity is an area of human development that
encompasses the future of our planet. Traditional ways of
seeing the world and dealing with social issues no longer
seem adequate. Clearly, we are in need of new and
creative approaches to our problems. Anything we can do
to promote creativity is a step in the right direction.
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Bibliography Related to Creativity
Cushman, A. (et. al.) "Are You Creative?," Utne
Reader, No. 50 (March-April, 1992) p. 53-69.
A series of articles and excerpts on creativity
extracted from a variety of publications. The author
describes creativity workshops and salons in writing,
art, acting, and music. Seven guidelines are
presented: 1) trust your intuition, 2) stay in the
present, 3) don't cross out things you've written, 4)
work on the process instead of the product, 5) don't
analyze what you've done, 6) special talent is not
necessary, and 7) practice extensively.
Donovan, R., "Plugged into the Idea
Generator." Writer's Digest, Vol. 71, No. 3
(March, 1991) p. 66-68.
The article describes the author's experience
using a off-brand model of the Synchro-Energizer.
Beta, alpha, theta, and delta brain waves are
described. The article describes the lucid dreaming
that is associated with the theta state, however, the
point is made that insights are of no value unless
they are written down. Several general ideas for
enhancing your creative productivity are suggested:
practice what you want to do well, become engaged
(doing is more productive than studying), expand to
other related areas, believe in your creative
abilities, take more naps to enter theta more often,
close your eyes and meditate.
Ferguson, M., "Retrospective: Unlocking the
Mystery of Creativity," Mind/Brain Bulletin,
Vol. 15, No. 12 (September, 1990).
A review of some of the major findings regarding
creativity in the last decade. These include: Nursing
home patients with brain damage were judged to have
equal aesthetic abilities to their non-brain-damaged
counterparts. Emotionally disturbed children were
judged more creative than their "normal"
counterparts. Creative people tend to display right
brain dominance. Injury to the frontal lobe hampers
creativity. Scientists tend to show the same creative
abilities as artists. Famous writers tended to suffer
from mood disorders more than other professionals.
Carl Rogers states that we are doomed to annihilation
unless we improve our creative abilities.
Ferguson, M., "On Doing Creative Science:
Researcher Offers Hints," Mind/Brain Bulletin,
Vol. 15, No. 12 (September, 1990).
A report describing the suggestions of ecologist
Craig Loehle for promoting creativity in the
sciences. These include: 1) following your gut
feelings, 2) look at subjects that are being hotly
debated, 3) choose experiments that are reasonably
challenging, 4) diversify your interests, 5) don't
read the literature until after writing down your
ideas, 6) value inactivity, 7) be unrealistic in your
goals, 8) procrastinate some projects, and 9) ride
the wave when your hot. Loehle argues that pursuing
grants is a problem because it takes up to 30% of a
researchers time, and forces too narrow of a focus.
He believes that research grants should be more broad
in scope and cover longer periods of time.
Greeley, A., "Bricolage Among the Trash
Cans," Society, Vol. 30, No. 2
(January-February, 1993) p. 70-75.
The author proposes a mechanism of creativity
where some dimension of the self continuously scans
the image traces of memory and "playfully
juxtaposes, separates, combines, readjusts, changes,
undoes, assembles and tears down" these
images..." Creativity is compared to the
creation of a story, where the images are interwoven
into a coherent structure. The most creative
individuals are those who can quickly "play with
our [mental] data". The author believes that
creativity is essentially an act of play. A kind of
innate "storytelling impulse" is the
driving force of creativity.
Leschak, P., "The Five-Step Creativity
Workout," Writer's Digest, Vol. 70, No. 11
(November, 1991) p. 4-29.
The author describes five skills used to develop
creative writing abilities. 1) begin with intense
study and concentration, 2) clearly establish the
form of the problem, 3) sequester yourself to an
environment of solitude on a regular schedule, 4) be
patient for the solution, and 5) have confidence in
your abilities and be willing to take risks.
Marken, G.A., "Nurturing Creativity in a
Productive Society," Public Relations Quarterly,
Vol. 36, No. 4 (Winter, 1991) p. 31-32.
The author discusses the problem where management
wants creative efforts, but "real world"
pressures produce a situation not conducive to
creativity. He illustrates the differences between
right and left-brain thinking, and describes how
creative people thrive on ambiguity. The author's
strongest point is that creativity doesn't happen on
a time clock, and therefore, we must not use
"harsh" measures of productivity to
evaluate creative output.
Meyer, J., "Substitute Reinforcement: A Major
Psychological Source of Creative Capacity," Education,
Vol. 110, No. 3 (Spring, 1990) p. 369-373.
The author defines substitute reinforcement as the
"process of continuing trial efforts in a
stalled concept formation task..." These are the
things that keep people working on a problem when
they're stumped, or when progress is slow. The author
proposes seven factors that need to be taken into
account when developing a theory on creative
performance: 1) how people approach unfamiliar
realms, 2) the role of work and effort in learning,
3) difficulties in generalizing learning, 4)
short-term memory blockages, 5) appropriate
substitute reinforcement, 6) clarifying the value of
the learning process, and 7) reluctance to document
Renzulli, J., "A General Theory for the
Development of Creative Productivity Through the Pursuit
of Ideal Acts of Learning," Gifted Child
Quarterly, Vol. 36, No. 4 (Fall, 1992) p. 170-182.
The author presents a general theory for
developing creativity by examining the interactions
between the learner, curriculum, and teacher. Learner
interactions consist of a student's abilities,
interests, and learning styles. Teacher interactions
include the teacher's knowledge, teaching technique,
and "romance" with the discipline. The
curriculum includes the structure, content,
methodology, and the discipline's appeal to the
imagination of the students. The author proposes a
three-dimensional research paradigm for examining
creative productivity: a) the type of creativity that
we are trying to develop, b) the context in which the
creative activities are carried out, c) the
contextual variables that influence the creative
Runco, M., "Divergent Thinking, Creativity, and
Giftedness," Gifted Child Quarterly, Vol. 37,
No. 1 (Winter, 1993), p. 16-22.
Divergent thinking tests are often used to
estimate the potential for creative thought. This
article reviews recent research. Findings include: a)
ideation tests are not related to general
intelligence scores, b) stringent and lenient
divergent thinking tests involve different cognitive
skills, c) creativity tests should include more
"real-world" problems, because they provide
better predictive ability of how a person will
perform in the natural environment, d) creativity
tests should include a qualitative examination of
responses, as well as quantitative, e) creative
potential is normally distributed in the population,
f) the intrinsic motivation in a problem maximizes
Schack, G., "Effects of a Creative
Problem-Solving Curriculum on Students of Varying Ability
Levels," Gifted Child Quarterly, Vol. 37, No.
1 (Winter, 1993), p. 32-38.
The author studied the effects of a creative
problem solving curriculum on 267 middle school
students. Gifted, honors, and average students were
judged before and after the program. The testing
procedure measured problem fluency, solution fluency,
flexibility, and originality. All treatment students
showed significant gains, regardless of their
original ability. However, teacher's perceptions were
that gifted students had significant gains, honors
students had some gains, and average students had
none. The author argues that the disparity between
test results and the teachers perceptions suggests
that teachers need training on how to recognize
Schwartz, A. , "Using Brainstorming to Identify
Creative Solutions," Supervisory Management,
Vol. 36, No. 10 (October, 1991), p. 4.
The author identifies the features conducive to
productive brainstorming sessions. Most important is
the need to strike a balance between casual and
productive settings. The optimal number of
participants is between seven and fifteen. The
physical environment should be relaxing and ideas
should be informally recorded on a flip chart. When a
page is filled, hang it on the wall for all
participants to see. The ground rules are: 1) let
ideas flow freely without judgments, 2) encourage
freewheeling thought, 3) generate as many ideas as
possible, and 4) build on the ideas of others. The
author stresses the need for knowing the limitations
Skagen, A., "Creative Tools: Versatile Problem
Solvers that can Double as Fun and Games," Supervisory
Management, Vol. 36, No. 10 (October, 1991), p. 1-2.
The author presents creativity games as a way for
organizations to combat burnout. She maintains that
nearly everyone has fun at these games because they
resemble play. Creativity tools can be used after a
clear statement and analysis of a problem. Most
organizational creativity programs encourage a team
approach to encourage camaraderie among coworkers.
Techniques include brainstorming imaginary customer
complaints, challenging customary ways of doing
things, brainstorming barriers to success,
visualizing the desired goal and working backwards,
describing the company ten to fifty years from now,
and imagining what the effect would be if there were
no budget or technical restraints on the company.
Sternberg, R. and Lubart, T., "Creative
Giftedness: A Multivariate Investment Approach," Gifted
Child Quarterly, Vol. 37, No. 1 (Winter, 1993), p.
The authors believe that six resources contribute
to the creativity of individuals: intelligence,
knowledge, styles of thinking, personality,
motivation, and environment. The authors propose an
"investment" view of creativity, where
creative people "buy low and sell high".
They initially propose ideas that seem odd (or out of
sync) with other peoples ideas. As they bring the
ideas to fruition, they metaphorically
"sell" the ideas to other people, and then
move on to other ideas. The authors believe that
creativity is a special kind of giftedness that is
different than academic giftedness. Creativity is
characterized by divergent thinking, selective
encoding, selective combination and selective
comparison skills. Knowledge is viewed as necessary,
but sometimes it limits one's perspective and ability
to have unique ideas. Tolerance of ambiguity is one
of the most important personality attributes
associated with creativity. Creative individuals also
enjoy mild risk taking, and they show a willingness
to overcome obstacles and persevere. Creative people
are generally task (rather than goal) oriented.
Creative environments are not universal. An
individual who appears creative in one environment
might appear average in another.
Sternberg, R. and Lubart, T., "Creating Creative
Minds," Phi Delta Kappan, Vol. 72, No. 8
(April, 1991), p. 608-614.
The authors elaborate on their investment theory
of creativity. When making a creative investment,
people should "buy low and sell high". Two
aspects of intelligence are involved in
creativity--problem definition and redefinition, and
insight skills (discovering information
relationships). Creativity also requires knowledge.
In order for knowledge to contribute to creativity,
it should be usable and relevant. Creative
personalities demonstrate tolerance for ambiguity, a
willingness to surmount obstacles, perseverance, a
willingness to grow and take risks, and a belief in
oneself. Intrinsic motivation (doing a task for
enjoyment) and the desire to excel promote
creativity. Environments should spark creative ideas
and reward them. The current structure of schools
seems to undermine creativity as much as it supports
it. The authors also promote the idea that many of
our current creativity programs are trivial and the
learning only transfers to trivial situations. They
call for a complete revaluation of the purpose of
Thomas, T., "Knowing When to Brainstorm
Solo," Supervisory Management, Vol. 36, No.
10 (October, 1991), p. 5.
Participatory management often involves workers in
brainstorming sessions. The author points out that
involving other employees in a brainstorming session
is not always the best solution. Do not use group
techniques when: 1) the matter is strictly your
responsibility, 2) the issue will divide people
because of their own interests, 3) when the staff is
not accustomed to brainstorming techniques, and 4)
when there are not between six and twelve people. The
author makes several suggestions for brainstorming
alone, including: setting aside some time to
"relax with the problem", not defining the
problem "too clearly", and keeping an idea
diary with you all the time.