Why Teach Creativity Techniques At The University?

In recent years, higher education institutions are paying greater attention to the development of creativity: one of the most appreciated intellectual resources today for the benefits it offers in the academic and professional field. 

On this occasion we will address some important reasons why creativity should not only be part of higher-level educational training, but is also destined to become one of the skills most in demand by companies in the workplace.

Deciphering creativity

All human beings are born with a degree of creativity, but we do not always have the opportunity to develop it in the educational field, something that over time can limit our academic and professional development. 

For some years now, creative thinking has attracted the attention of scientists and educators, but also of the business world: today, the most innovative companies consider creativity as one of the most requested skills for hiring professionals, especially for its ability to offer alternative ideas in solving problems.

But, when we talk about “creativity” what do we really mean?

The word arises from the terms creatio and creare, and refer to the act of producing or giving rise to something new. For a long time, creativity was related only to artistic and philosophical aspects, but starting in the 20th century it began to have relevance in all areas of human development.

There are hundreds of definitions of creativity; In fact, it was not until 1961 that the term appeared for the first time in Webster’s dictionary, and from that moment on, various authors developed their own concepts. Among those accepted, Abraham Maslow stands out, who considers that there are two types of creativity:

  • Primary creativity: motivated by inspiration, starting from spontaneous processes that respond to the particular interests of each individual.
  • Secondary creativity: The creative process is more systematic and controlled, motivated by personal and external interests to achieve a final product, usually for the resolution of a problem.

The second case has greater relevance for higher education because it involves a preparation process, that is, the development of creativity techniques that allow the student to exercise creativity to achieve a specific goal.

Since the middle of the last century, hundreds of authors have dedicated themselves to studying creativity from a humanistic perspective, but also as one of the most important intellectual resources for personal and professional life.

It would be impossible to address all these creativity experts here, but what we can do is return to those who have had the greatest influence on recent education, such as Ken Robinson.

4 elements of creativity according to Ken Robinson 

The writer and international education advisor, Ken Robinson, dedicated his entire life to studying how creativity works in the educational field. In books such as The Element and Creative Schools, he explains in detail what are the key aspects for students to develop creativity at school. Here are some of them:

1. Find the “element” that you are passionate about

In his book “Find Your Element, he emphasizes the need to find precisely that “element that makes us passionate about doing things,” since without it it is very difficult for creativity to be present.

This element is not only what we like to do most, it also refers to what we have passion for, but also attitudes and aptitudes. That is, that activity that we do not do out of obligation, but as part of a life goal.

Once we approach that “element”, creativity becomes the engine that will drive all actions to develop it. “Without passion there is no creativity” said Robinson, because it is not possible to be creative in a school environment where the activities are not meaningful or do not represent something important to the students.

2. Attitude and aptitude: essential aspects for creativity

Being passionate about something is not enough, it is also necessary to involve two aspects that will let the student know if what they are passionate about, if that “element” that gives meaning to their purposes is the correct one.

Many students may have skills and be suitable for a career, but at the same time lack patience or interest, that is, they do not have attitude, or even vocation, which will cause them to end up abandoning any project over time.

Likewise, there are students who may have the best intentions in their career, but their skills, knowledge and abilities are not the best in that area, which will also cause them to become discouraged and lose interest over time.

In both cases, it will be difficult for creativity to fully develop, since the conditions must previously exist for it to emerge as part of the learning process.

3. Educate for creativity

For a long time there was a false belief that creativity was a process limited only to the artistic or intellectual field, a resource for artists and philosophers, but alien to other areas such as the sciences. 

Today we know that creativity influences all academic areas, without exception. In fact, it is in the sciences related to mathematics, computer science and computational development where professionals are currently required to have high creative skills.

This idea is quite innovative, especially if we take into account that it has always been believed that creativity is a resource for education, while Robinson’s proposal proposes the opposite: that education becomes a resource to develop creative methods and techniques. .

4. Measure and analyze creativity

Another “myth” about creativity consists of believing that it is an abstract resource, that is, a kind of “euphoria of inspiration” that happens to students spontaneously in the middle of a class and, consequently, there is no way to measure or analyze.

In his book Creative Schools, Robinson points out that it is not enough to propose creativity dynamics or techniques as if they were only a resource for students to learn better. It is also necessary to measure progress and evaluate the quality of results.

In the case of university students, who are constantly exposed to projects related to their career, creativity can be measured based on their results: evaluation rubrics can be established focused on the creative way in which they carry out a project or solve a problem. academic.

Many factors intervene in a creativity evaluation, such as the students’ ability to self-evaluate their own processes, establish records of progress and setbacks. This means being able to accept and analyze your mistakes so that you can creatively look for alternative solutions.

3 reasons to teach creativity techniques at university

Now we are clearer that creativity is not a spontaneous and abstract activity, rather it is a skill that requires preparation, which implies that in university classrooms we can allocate academic time to teaching appropriate creativity techniques, depending on the career or area. study.

Although it may seem obvious that creativity is a very valuable resource in higher education, it is not always clear what the main reasons are for promoting it within university classrooms. That is why we consider it important to point out 3 fundamental reasons for teaching creativity techniques at the university. 

1. The new society depends on creativity

One of the characteristics that define the new generations is the culture of innovation. Richard Florida, economics expert, in his book The Creative Class, points out that currently the economy is not governed by those people who work the most, but by those who are most creative.

This class includes university professors, experts in technology, engineering, computing, marketing and advertising, among others. We are talking about activities that require people trained to make efficient decisions, work as a team, coordinate long-range projects that do not always come with an “instruction manual”, so at all times they must resort to the use of creativity techniques to obtain good results. results.

2. Automated jobs are disappearing

Since 2018, the World Economic Forum published its annual report on the future of jobs worldwide, where it noted that 25% of productive activities have been automated, so it is estimated that by 2025, around 75 Millions of people could lose their jobs as they are replaced by smart technology.

It is a fact that the jobs of the future will be destined for creative people, capable of making decisions and solving problems for which a solution has not yet been invented.

Teaching higher education students as many creative techniques as possible will help them generate new study habits, more focused on the production of new ideas than on the generation of linear knowledge.

3. The essence of higher education is creative

The objective of higher education is not only to expand the student’s academic horizons, but also to offer them the greatest number of alternatives for personal and professional growth.

This implies that the learning process is not limited only to teaching the contents related to a university degree, but also teaching students to think from different points of view about all the possibilities that this degree offers them on a personal, social and cultural level. professional.

This is what is known as heuristic thinking, where creative reasoning has a lot of participation, because the aim is to make students not only see their career as a resource to obtain a job, but also as the possibility of expanding their career plans. life towards more ambitious goals.

And to make this happen, it is essential that creativity techniques intervene in the learning process, dynamics that can challenge the students’ imagination and stimulate divergent thinking.


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