Creativity and Critical Thinking
Creativity and Critical Thinking
Education has immensely changed in the recent years to include various aspects that enhance learning and prepare the students for contemporary challenges. This evolution gas led to the introduction of several concepts, theoretical frameworks and models that are aimed at promoting learning. One of these concepts is creativity and critical thinking that was first introduced as discipline in schools before it was incorporated in the development of curriculum by incorporating activities that promote creative thinking among learners. In spite of these assertions it is prima facie that man is creative being and therefore the concept of creativity and creative and critical thinking has been in existence throughout the existence of the human race. While it’s true to argue that creativity and critical thinking are relatively new concepts in learning , it is not true to imagine that these are concepts that are taught or learnt through formal leaning. In fact, one the distinguishing characteristic between formal and informal learning is the fact that in informal learning, the apprentices were expected to be creative thinkers for them to be able to learn the practice and also be innovative in their practice. Creative thinking is therefore a relatively old concept in learning and maybe the only thing that has happened in the recent past is the conceptualization of the models of creative thinking and also the development of theories that enhance creative thinking (White, 2015). This essay seeks to explain the concepts of creative thinking as used particularly in pedagogy.
Creative thinking and critical thinking are defined differently depending with the context in which it is used. However, in general terms, creative thinking involves the creation of new things that are original and feature peculiar from the rest. Creative thinking therefore involves skills and abilities like flexibility, fluency, imagery, brainstorming or innovation. Creative thinking in the other side entails logical capabilities like reasoning and critiquing. In pedagogy, creative pedagogy is used to refer to the science and art of creative teaching. Critical thinking and creativity are therefore similar or the two sides of the same coin whose understanding is indispensable to the contemporary approaches of teaching and learning across all phases. Creativity and critical thinking in pedagogy allows a paradigm shift in teaching where the teachers understand that the thinking skills the learners develop are long term and not short term as emphasized by traditional methods of teaching where creative and critical thinking were less emphasized because they were assumed to be part of every pedagogy and thus their emphasis in instruction ignored. Creativity and critical thinking in learning thus goes beyond the concept of thinking skills emphasized in traditional educational curriculums. The understanding of these concepts as used in the contemporary pedagogy stimulates us to look at teaching and learning in a different way from the conventional way, as emphasis is put on the various methods children learn and how the evaluation of the activities they engage in can deepen our understanding of their metacognition development even in assigning duties to them without looking at merely their chronological stage of development.
There are several theories of creativity that have been developed to explain the genesis of creative people. The most common and perhaps plausible theory on creativity is the psychoanalytical theory of creativity as school of thought proposed by Sigmund Freud, Jung, and KrisHammer among other theorist. The major tenet of this theory is that creativity in human beings results from encounters with difficult circumstance and emotional expression. This school of thought that believes that once faced with difficulties, human beings regress from the environment and go through a process of searching for solution to the problem thus creativity. Creativity as Freud explained, results from an individual desire to find solution to unsatisfied wishes and therefore wells from unconscious drives. The second school of thought that is similar is the humanistic theory of creativity which posits that men become creative in order to satisfy the six basic needs universal to human beings. The fear of death for instances is argued to the driving force for creation of things or objects that immortalize the human beings which is normally referred to legacy creation. This theory negates several beliefs by the psychoanalytic school of thought like creativity results from not only the suppression of failure but rather encouragement for creativity by others. In fact, most of the techniques used in in creative learning like brainstorming, constructive criticisms and questioning all stem from the humanistic theory. Other theories that seek to explain the creation of creativity include the theory of psychoticism proposed by Eysenck which posits that all creative individuals have disposition to psychosis and that creativity originates from these psychotic tendencies (Runco& Acar, 2012). The main explanation for this belief is that creativity requires open mindedness and rebelliousness against traditional or conventional practices, a phenomenon which characterize psychotic personalities. While this might not necessarily be the case, creative thinking is attributed to both the mental or cognitive traits of an individual and his or her personality traits. The understanding of the child’s personality and cognitive power is thus invaluable in reinforcing their creativity and creative thinking ability.
It is prima facie that though individual creativity and creative thinking is more or less and inherited factor, all human beings possess a certain level of creativity which can be tapped in order for them to excel in their activities. In fact, it’s erroneous to imagine that only successful people are creative or the less successful people have little ability for creative thinking. On the contrary some of the phlegmatic characters are more creative compared to their counterparts and some of the otherwise considered non thinkers might possess more creativity. Both resources and the environment the child is raised contribute to the child’s level of creativity. This thus justifies the role of teachers and training assistants in developing the child’s creative abilities. Children come from a rich diversity of cultures and backgrounds which makes them unique in their own won way and thus affects their capabilities, especially when left to natural course of growth and development. Pedagogy training however plays an invaluable role in developing children abilities in order to achieve their full potential. Teachers and teachers’ assistants can help children to develop creative thinking through various strategies. First, teachers should help the children develop imaginative reasoning which is fundamental for the child to effectively integrate previous experience in the learning process. In fact, learning can be measured by the individual ability to relate what they know or learnt in the past to solve present problems. Teachers should encourage children to engage in learning by asking independent question to adults, link ideas and share their ideas. In addition they should be able to participate in constructive discussion with their peers which allow them to brainstorm and develop creative reasoning. Therefore, in order to encourage creative thinking, the teacher should play the role of a leader in the inquiry process while the child plays the role of inquirer (Giardiello, et al., 2014).
When teaching creative thinking, it is essential for the teacher to reflect on what the students learnt or how the teachers performed in the assigned activities. One way this could be done is by applying some of the theoretical frameworks or reflective logs that allow a person to evaluate a situation and plan the learning. A popular log that can be used in teaching pedagogy creative thinking is the Gibbs creative cycle which includes six stages or steps of the reflection process. According to Gibbs (1988), the reflection process contains a cycle that has six stages namely the description stage, the feelings stage, evaluation, analysis, conclusion and the action plan stage which then leads back to the description stage. This model is applicable in several concepts in learning including the reflective writing and reflective learning. When applying this log, the teachers should describe the learning process in respect to what it entailed. This should be followed by reflection on what was the feeling or thinking or expression during the experience. The teachers should then evaluate the experience noting what was good or bad about the situation and then analyze the situation in order to make sense of the situation. During the analysis, the teacher should compare the experience with what would have been expected according to the literature or previous experiences with children engaged in similar activity. After the analysis, the next stage of reflection is the conclusion, where the teacher determines what else could have been done and how the activity should have progressed. The last stage include the action plan, where the teacher should discuss with the child the next activity and also reflects on they should do as teacher to make the experience much better the next time. This is necessary as it set the ground for further learning and improvement during the next activity. As earlier noted, reflection is an important process during the learning process for both the teacher and the learner. In pedagogy, the teacher has the greater role since they act as the leader and therefore should reflect on both their actions and the actions of the students.
From the above observations, the children described in observation have evidence of knowing what they want to do. The children are enthusiastic about the results they want to get and are not merely trying out new things. They have the end picture of what they want to make in mind and therefore show enjoyment of what they are doing. As described they are following a clear plan which shows organization and enjoyment thus the children creative thinking can be said to be above the levels of trying but rather at a point where they are reproducing results or are working on something they already have a mental picture of. The children also show a desire to involve others in their activities which is integral part of creative thinking in order to successfully complete some tasks. Using the Gibbs’ reflective model, the child could have done better if they communicate with each other during the process (Bassot, 2015).
In observation number three, the child is also enthusiastic and in doing the analysis of her creative thinking, it is evident from the observation that the child is trying out new ideas, though it could also be said that she knows what she is doing because she seems to have theoretical knowledge or mental image of the Christmas tree, and birth of Jesus as described in the observation. Reflecting on the child creativity, it is evident that the child has huge creative ability since she is able to tell the story of the birth of Jesus through the collage. The child however could have done better by showing the flow of ideas from the birth of Jesus and the presentation of gifts.
Whenever creative thinking is mentioned, it is not to mention possibility thinking. This has led to several research on possibility thinking and how it can be applied across all the levels of learning starting from early years, to primary schools, high schools and in fact, the universities. Possibility thinking is considered a higher level of creative thinking where the question moves from the definition and “what is” to more thoughtful questions like “what if”. The critics of this concept however believe that, possibility thinking is part of every creative learningprocess and, therefore, it is not any special. However the supporters of possibility thinking believe it is different from the usual creativity thus should be treated as such in order to facilitate learning. Whatever the case, possibility thinking is an important concept often at the core of creativity usually involving more than the establishment of a creativity corner in the classroom as is the case with most creative learning. Essentially, possibility thinking involves a transition in thinking from the basic “what is this” to more engaging and demanding questioning like “what can I or we do with this”, or “what if this happened or didn’t happen?” Fostering possibility thinking involves helping students to find and resolve their questions. It further requires the teachers to adopt creative techniques of teaching like standing back, agency profiling, and crating time and space as espoused in research article by Cremin, Burnard, and Craft (2006). This essay is an attempt to expound on these pedagogical concepts as applied in Cremin’s research on possibility thinking band other literature on methods of fostering possibility thinking.
The first pedagogical stance evidenced to foster possibility thinking according to Cremin, Burnard and Craft (2006) is standing back. According to the study which involved the teacher and universities researcher, there was an agreement that the teacher’s position inclass was critical to fostering possibility thinking in class. Standing back was distinguished priority given to the teacher’s stopping to observe, listening and noticing, and how often teacher positioned themselves in class to observe how the learners were engaged. Standing back enables the educator to evaluate learning and in fact, allow the student to exploit their autonomy and follow their own interest. The teacher can evaluate the creativity of the students by evaluating their behavior, albeit from a distance and direct them according. Most important the learner agency developed by the educators behavior is most important because build the learners confidence necessary to experiment new ideas and thus build their creativity. Jeffrey (2005b as cited in Cremin, Burnard, and Craft (2006) see the autonomy given to the learner as necessary since it allows the learners and teacher to get into a co-participative relationship of learning and creating. This imaginative approach encourages s possibility thinking among the learners. Stand back allow the learners to observe the students and reflect on their learning, their creativity and ideas on what were the possibilities in the activities they engaged, thus judging their level of possibility thinking.
The second stance considered in fostering possibility thinking is the creation of time and space. Time and space are integral in any activity that involve creative thinking and possibility thinking because it give room for exploration and also allow time to try different ideas. In order to encourage possibility thinking, the learners space should be restricted or the learner restrained by forcing them to work in a restricted area like the creative corner which has traditionally been used for creative activities to foster creativity (White, 2015). Unlike creative thinking which has usually followed a set of activities predetermined, possibility thinking allows the learners to try different ideas in order to learn the probable results of their activities. Thus space is necessary in order to try the different ideas. Likewise, possibility thinking requires time and thus time is a necessary factor in promoting possibility thinking. During the study, it was noted that time was flexibly handled in teaching possibility thinking. Possibility thinking should be governed on engagement rather than the clock and therefore as long as the children are engaged in creative activity, they should be encouraged. Likewise, the importance of space in fostering possibility thinking was evident in the study where the results show that some of the teachers involved in the study and modified the classroom space to be a tool in the learning process. Children developed relationship with the space an even were allowed to co create it in order to facilitate learning (Davies, et al.,, 2013).
Lastly possibility thinking can be enhanced through agency profiling. As earlier stated, possibility thinking requires some level of freedom where the learners can think independently, develop and solve questions. Agency profiling entails the assignment of freedom where the teacher tend to sway away from the usual plan of activities as organized in the curriculum in order to give the students space to develop independent ideas. In the study, this was evident across all the setting where student agency was prioritized by all the teachers who participated in the research. The agency allowed the students to initiate their own activities or were given a loosely organized activity and allowed to make their own choices. The learners should be allowed to determine their own activities as shown in the study. The development of learners’ agency is surely an important strategy towards creative learning (Gilhooly, Ball &Macchi, 2015).
In conclusion, the study provides essential information for anyone wanting to improve the possibility thinking among the students. Possibility thinking is not only essential in learning but is also a critical component of learning. While several efforts are put to improve the creative thinking of student in lower school grades, it is important to encourage challenges that promote possibility thinking since it builds the cognitive power of students besides improving the students’ creativity. Creativity and possibility should not be viewed in isolation but rather, both should be emphasized across the curriculum since they provide essential knowledge necessary for life.
Bassot, B., 2015. The Reflective Practice Guide: An interdisciplinary approach to critical reflection. Routledge.
Cremin,T.,Burnard, P., Craft, A., 2014. Pedagogy and possibility thinking in the early years. Science Direct: Elsevier
Davies, D., Jindal-Snape, D., Collier, C., Digby, R., Hay, P. and Howe, A., 2013. Creative learning environments in education—A systematic literature review. Thinking Skills and Creativity, 8, pp.80-91.
Giardiello, P., Parr, E., Mcleod, N. and Redman, C., 2014. Understanding Pedagogy. In Handbook for Teacher Educators (pp. 15-32). SensePublishers.
Gilhooly, K.J., Ball, L.J. and Macchi, L., 2015. Insight and creative thinking processes: Routine and special. Thinking & Reasoning, 21(1), pp.1-4.
Runco, M.A. and Acar, S., 2012. Divergent thinking as an indicator of creative potential. Creativity Research Journal, 24(1), pp.66-75.
White, E.J., 2015. Introducing dialogic pedagogy: Provocations for the early years. Routledge.