Creativity Is Not…

After attending sessions on creativity at the AEI conference last weekend, (The Theme was Creativity).  Many thoughts are spinning through my head about the information we gathered from our excellent speakers and breakout sessions, as well as my own takes and opinions on some of the tidbits I gathered.  A conversation emerged regarding societies definition of creativity and what true creativity actually is, according to research and observation.

Creativity is not simply…

  • Thinking out side the box
  • Being artistic
  • Free Expression
  • Brainstorming new ideas

Creativity is…

  • Producing a product that is novel or useful
  • Taking an area you are an expert in and elevating it by…
  • Either combining it with another discipline
  • OR… Using your ideas to better society
  • OR… Using your ideas and discoveries to change thinking or advance a subject

One thing I found the most profound is the idea that in order to be creative you must have already mastered a content area.  For example, if we stuck a bunch of kids in a room with art supplies and told them to “Be Creative” the results may be somewhat disappointing. However, if after a very long unit on color mixing, where students were well versed in how to accurately mix colors, we then asked them to take their knowledge and create something new, this would get at the heart of what research is saying is true creativity.

Highly Creative People…

Experience what we call FLOW on a regular basis. FLOW is being in the optimal experience, where time passes quickly, we are consumed in our work and feel as though we are transported to another time or place while working and formulating our ideas. How often do you think students today experience FLOW?

What are some other truths and myths you have found to be true about the very evasive term we call “Creativity”? 

Jessica Balsley

Jessica Balsley is the Founder and President at AOE. She is passionate about helping art teachers enhance their lives and careers through relevant professional development.


  • Glad you mentioned Flow. Check out anything by Mihaly Csikszentmihi. He is the founder of Flow. I especilaly like the book, Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery of Invention. I am glad you blogged about this.

    • I will look him up- I think he was sited in the book “Creativity in Crisis” by Robinson. I always feel like I am totally ruining the FLOW of my students when I ask them to clean up after 45 short minutes of art.