The Future for Human Creativity

Can we teach children to be creative?

Can creativity be taught?

The ancient Chinese believed that all things are made of a mix of yin and yang, that while one may predominate nothing can exist as wholly only yin or only yang.

Is this a universal law? Does everything in creation need to be a combination of two things?

Creative is defined as: having the ability to create, characterized by originality of thought; having or showing imagination.

Imagination is defined as: the faculty or action of producing ideas, especially mental images of what is not present or has been experienced.

The ability to create then needs both technical knowledge and imagination. An artist needs knowledge about paint, colours, reflection and light, as well as the inspiration or imagination to direct these skills. Thus we have intuition and intellect working together to create a work of art.

Writers starting with a blank page, need the ability to put readable symbols onto that page, as well as the thought processes which direct which words to write.

A chemist trying to find a medicinal cure for sickness, needs knowledge of what that sickness is and preferably some knowledge of what causes it. They then combine this knowledge with a level of original thought, admittedly derived from prior experience but still original, otherwise they would make a remedy that already exists.

An exceptionally great cook not only follows a recipe but also adds some nuance of their own. They need knowledge of how to cook food and imagination to select a flavorsome combination of foods. Most very good cooks can follow instructions on a recipe and so cook what has been described, but while this is providing very good food, it is not creating a dish.

It does not matter what we call the two aspects of creativity, they can be called intuition and intellect; or it can be experience and inspiration; what ever we call things, there are still 2 parts to the whole.

Daydreaming, wishful thinking, idle fantasy. These may use imagination, as defined above, but there is no application of the practical or technical side of creation and so these idle moments are not creative. By the same judgment the cook exactly following a recipe is using skill, experience, and knowledge,  but it is not creative. The bureaucrat following a list of questions and boxes to be ticked, may be doing their job, fulfilling what is asked of them, but this is not creative, nor is it going to have meaningful connections to the subject of the questions. Just reading queries written by some one else and ticking off boxes, does not require original thought or even the application of intellect, let alone imagination.

Intuition on its own, without application to physical reality, is not actually creative, it is a more ethereal version of day dreaming. Day dreams come from the physical brain, while intuition seems to come from a deeper aspect of human life; but without being partnered and structured by effort or intelligence, it is going to be lost like a puff of smoke in the wind.

The stories of inventors who were given ideas in their sleep, composers who woke up having a melodic score in their head, these are quite common but still needed the skills to interpret the given ideas into works others could recognize. Creativity needing 2 partners. Like yin and yang. The relative strengths of the mix will vary all the time but still need some input from both.

Can creativity be taught, should we focus lessons to young children on how to be creative? Many people, especially those who believe that intuition is guidance from higher powers, think all children are born creative and it is the emphasis on training the intellect that kills off this intuitive power. They may have a point if the training is directed only and intensely, at logical intellectual learning of existing knowledge, but it is also true that without intellectual and or practical skills, the intuition will have nothing to guide and so no creative output will be achieved.

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The Future for Human Creativity
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