Many researchers and creative types have their own definitions of creativity and the elements that define it.  My conceptualization centers on creativity in the classroom and how best to foster creative confidence among students as well as instructors.

The elements on which I focus include the following:

  • Increasing openness to experience
  • Heightening a sense of curiosity and wonder
  • Improving divergent thinking and cognitive flexibility
  • Cultivating an ability to combine disparate thoughts
  • Promoting acceptance of personal vulnerability
  • Developing a deep appreciation for failure
  • Fostering a nonjudgmental attitude in providing critiques
​​Students are often groomed though years of schooling to focus narrowly in on a subject, report a single correct answer, and feel shame in the event they get the answer wrong.  

Likewise, university professors are often invested in being the 'sage on the stage'.  This mindset leaves little room for experimentation with novel pedagogical approaches. Students aren't the only ones concerned about looking foolish in class. Even tenured faculty have an image to protect!

I strongly believe traditional schooling and the development of such a professorial mindset inhibits personal expression, growth, and learning.  And, of course it inhibits creativity!

The elements of creativity I've outlined serve as an antidote of sorts, in working to boost creative confidence among students as well as instructors.

Before any change can take place, however, the instructor must set a tone in the classroom.  A creativity stimulating atmosphere is one in which students feel empowered, not just engaged, and instructors feel safe to practice new strategies and pilot test unorthodox approaches.

To this end, in my introductory psychology and creativity seminar courses, I allot time at the very beginning of the semester to set the stage and prepare students to open their minds, wonder aloud, generate numerous approaches to challenges, work in teams to combine different perspectives, generate wild risk-taking ideas, share them aloud and appreciate the lessons that accompany failure.

"Creativity is intelligence having fun."

"There is no innovation and no creativity without failure."

Albert Einstein
Brené Brown