Being creative or innovative has become a skill or attribute that many schools, teachers, employers, parents and students aspire to have. In a world where many of our livelihoods are increasingly based on innovation and creation, we’re seeing worldwide discussions among educators and thought-leaders on how to enhance students’ creativity and build more creativity into the classroom and at home.
What does it mean to be creative or innovative? Oxford Dictionaries describes creative as “Relating to or involving the imagination or original ideas, especially in the production of an artistic work.” But does being creative always result in the generation of new ideas? And is it always related to the arts, design, music and writing? I consider it to be much more than that. To me, being creative means being able to solve problems in new ways, which means being able to change your perspective from time to time. It means being able to identify problems and be open to explore new ways of approaching them. It means being able to take chances and not be afraid of making mistakes, requiring a need to overcome doubt and fear. It means being curious and asking questions, even if they’re silly. It means having a desire to learn and find inspiration even in mundane places. It means breaking from routine sometimes and being able to deal with new and unexpected situations. To me, it’s a way of seeing the world and trying to understand what goes on around us.
- Expertise in one’s field, whether it’s art, mathematics, marketing or so on
- Ability to learn new things in an area
- Creative thinking, which includes “the ability to take new perspectives on problems, the ability to look at things in a way that other people aren’t looking at them, to go out on a limb, and to take risks in some way”
- Working hard, as you need to be able to persevere, even under difficult situations.
If these are what’s needed to be innovative or creative, how can you instill such qualities in your child?
In a previous post titled “Choosing Meaningful Enrichment and Extra-Curricular Activities,” I argued for choosing fewer, but meaningful activities so children have time to build in-depth skill, interest and knowledge in these activities with focused attention. I believe this is a crucial step in helping children achieve expertise in whatever they are passionate about. Moreover, it’s much easier to encourage perseverance and hard work if children enjoy what they are doing. Goleman’s previous research has shown people are most creative when they are primarily motivated by passion (interest, enjoyment, satisfaction and challenge of the work itself) rather than external goals, motivators or pressures such as money.
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This post first appeared on March 21, 2014 on Prep Beijing.
Alicia Lui is a co-founder at Prep Beijing!, a coaching company focusing on core soft skills such as effective communication, social and emotional skills, etiquette, critical thinking and leadership skills. Prior to founding Prep Beijing! She has worked in management consulting and in banking. She holds and MBA from INSEAD and Bachelor’s from University of Chicago.
Photo courtesy of Prep Beijing