Theoretical Thursday: Creativity, Innovation and Education

Theoretical Thursday: Creativity, Innovation and Education

Hello Readers,

And welcome to Theoretical Friday! As I mentioned yesterday, I have come down with a bit of a cough and cold, so I pushed our usual Theoretical Thursday to today.

Over this week, however, while seeing the children engage in such wonderfully creative endeavors, I began to think of the importance of innovation in Education and the need for creativity in our youth.  Whether it be by the media, researchers or even educators themselves, there has been quite a bit of talk for the need to increase new modes of thinking in students. There are some schools, such as The Study Academy, that make it their mission to provide courses and teaching methods based on creativity and innovation.

imagesBut here comes the question-Why is creativity so important that makes these individuals in educational institutions, researchers, and media argue so passionately for its integration into the Educational system? One such reason, that research has provided, has to do with the process of divergent thinking in children. What is that? Well, it is the process of breaking down concepts into their various components within our minds, and being able to see things from various perspectives. Divergent thinking can provide a deeper understanding and can foster insight in children, which benefits their overall learning development.

So, to foster a child’s divergent thinking abilities, education must go beyond simply knowledge based teaching. Indeed, to simply have a child learn in a knowledge based, single answer manner does not teach students how to analyze, synthesize and evaluate ideas in the same way divergent thinking can.

However, the Educational system as a whole, does not currently reward this way of thinking about things in children. Actually the current teaching methods can detract from the development of a child’s divergent learning capacity. In one study, used as a critical argument in Robinson’s TED talk in 2006 on creativity and education, several Kindergarten children were tested for their ability to think divergently. The initia


l results indicated that 98% had such a capacity, but when tested five years later, the results  dropped significantly. They dropped even more so five years after that. What happened, you may ask.

Well what I am trying to indicated, and what Robinson so strongly argued in his video (which can be found at robinson_says_schools_kill_creativity.html), is that a student’s capacity for divergent thinking can diminish if it is not encouraged. Do not be fooled, divergent thinking does not necessarily disappear as one ages. Not at all! Instead, results indicate that the current teaching method had “taught [divergent thinking] out of them. They’ve spent ten years at school, being taught there’s only one answer.”

While I admit it is a challenge for the Educational system to anticipate what sort of useful tools a child will need for their future, I believe a capacity for divergent thinking is a skill that is always relevant both on a personal and societal level. The ability to see many perspectives and understand another human being is important for relationships. The knowledge of how to anticipate a situation can help individual know what can be their next move. To understand the long term considerations of an action can help a society act consciously. For this reason, creativity and innovation are indeed crucial tools for learning development  in an individual as well as sustainable development within a community. Education and training need to incorporate creativity and innovation into life long learning.

That’s all for now folks, but this subject is not over just yet. I find it particularly interesting and so i will touch more on this subject matter next week on the next Theoretical Thursday. Stay tuned!

Also, if you are interested in reading more on this matter I would like to suggest the following two pieces:

McGrath, J. & Davies, D. (2012) The Future Will Not Be Multiple Choice. Published by Mind Shift. Available for download at:

Stanford Breakfast Briefings – The Enterprise of the Future. Available for download at:


Middle School The Study Academy Report