Today we are answering the question, can creativity be taught? You know, a number of years ago I wrote a book called The Myths of Creativity trying to correct a lot of the flawed assumptions about creativity with real, solid psychological research and inevitably that set me up for this question over and over and over again and rather than write another email answering a reader question about it, I thought hey, we should put this on The Daily Burk.
So, simple answer. Can creativity be taught? No. I mean, I know that’s not the answer you were expecting because why would you write a book on creativity if creativity can’t be taught? Follow me here.
Creativity to begin with, the ability to generate novel and useful ideas, is something everyone has. I mean I have two little boys, they are the most creative people I know. In fact, anyone who studies children sees how creative we are born with, really.
The question is whether or not we get to keep exercising that muscle or whether or not we let it atrophy. One of the most interesting studies in the history of creativity research is by E. Paul Torrance who studied the creative abilities of children as they developed and he found that in the United States, and I would argue this works for most of the west, creativity dropped off somewhere around 4th grade.
Now 4th grade, if you’re paying attention, 4th grade is when we start learning states and capitals and start learning harder math concepts. We start learning that there are right answers and that our job as students is to regurgitate them.
We stop learning that virgin thinking. Crazy combinations of new stuff. We stop learning all of the stuff that allows our creativity muscle to be exercised. So, then fast forward, we look at exceptionally creative people and we think that, oh, okay, they were born with it.
Well, they were, and so were you. They just didn’t fall out of practice. So no, when I work with groups and organizations, when I go to speak at conferences, I tell people no, you can’t teach creativity. You can only help people unlearn all of the junk that’s been blocking them from accessing their creative potential.
Thanks so much for watching The Daily Burk. Leave a comment below. Let me know what do you do to relearn creativity? And while you’re there, make sure you’re followed or subscribed because we are posting new episodes, new videos every single week day.