Components of Creativity
People often tend to think of creativity as magical and mysterious. Certainly there is something strange and wonderful about the creation of a great work of art or an earth-shattering idea. Those who study creativity, however, believe that extraordinary products are made through essentially ordinary thinking processes, which means we can all develop our creativity to some degree.
Creative individuals possess a combination of intellectual abilities, personality traits, and learning-area knowledge. They have the cognitive ability to deal with complex situations, have a set of tools they can use to generate many ideas, and are able to concentrate completely on a task (Amabile 1983). According to Sternberg and Lubart (1999), creative individuals have what they call a “synthetic ability” to see problems in novel ways, an “analytic ability” to decide which ideas are worth following through on and which aren’t, and the ability to convince others that their ideas are worthwhile.
Creativity is more than just the brain, however. People who are very creative also have personality and character traits that contribute to the production of unusual and appropriate solutions to problems. Two of the most important traits are the inclination to take sensible risks and the ability to tolerate high levels of confusion and ambiguity (Sternberg and Lubart 1999).
There has been a great deal of discussion about the relationship between curiosity and flexibility. Being creative requires being able to see things from different perspectives and changing your point of view when the situation demands it. People who are creative also have self-efficacy, and believe in their ability to accomplish difficult tasks and are persistent at overcoming obstacles.
Very creative people are often thought to be highly intelligent. While this is occasionally true, evidence shows that the connection between intelligence and creativity is not straightforward. Sternberg and O’Hara (1999) found people with low IQs are not likely to be exceptionally creative but above 120, there is no correlation between conventional intelligence and creativity. They even suggest that individuals with very high IQs may be rewarded so much for their analytical thinking that they do not reach their creative potential.
Technology and Creativity
In her 2002 review of the literature on creativity and technology, the educator, Avril Loveless, explains the complicated relationship between creativity and technology. Tools such as digital audio, video devices, and computers can contribute to creative processes in a variety of ways. She explains that the features of technology such as provisionality, interactivity, capacity, range, speed, and automatic functions, allow learners to do things that they could not do, or at least could not do as efficiently, without technology.
Because computers allow learners to make changes and try out alternatives and keep track of how well they work, they are useful for revising and editing. The interactivity of computers allows users to receive and give feedback from processes or other individuals. Technology gives learners access to great amounts of information that would have been unimaginable just a few years ago. Because computers can perform complex operations easily and quickly, users can put their efforts into more high-level processes such as the analysis, interpretation, and synthesis of information.
In the classroom, teachers can use technology to help learners to brainstorm and evaluate ideas, make connections, collaborate, and communicate. They must remember, however, that it is not the access to technology that encourages creativity, but the creation of an environment in which technology can be used to accomplish goals in creative ways.
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