Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Implications for Enhancing Creativity (T. Amabile)


Creativity is often regarded as a skill, and often misleads many to believe they “lack” or “entail” this component. Teresa Amabile’s chapter on enhancing creative suggests that every human “entails” the creativity component, it is the stage that is provided for them that causes one to believe whether or not he/she has the ability. A simple task such as “brainstorming” is one of the most popular and widely known methods, which in fact has proven to enhance creativity in a human mind. Amabile examines creative-training programs, describing the benefits that these programs can provide for young learners when they interact with one another. Composed of two portions – generation of idea and evaluating the idea, brainstorming suggests an opportunity for individuals to find their ideas. Moreover, brainstorming as described in the article is one of the few methods that allow for everyone’s opinion to count, to matter and not allow for criticism in the moment. It is through the process of brainstorming, that good ideas form, and furthermore, are put into account for. It is after completing the process that will deduce a product. Thus, Amabile argues for Alex Osborn’s brainstorming theory, suggesting that brainstorming allows quantity to stir up quality in the end. Though brainstorming may not always produce the best solutions, it is definitely analyzed as one of the most strategic solution applicable to stimulating creativity in a subject area.

A group process known as synectics developed by William Gordon provides an opportunity for ideas to be thought through, make happen, tested, re-thought, re-made and re-tested. In this process, the creative component is more noticeable, as individuals require careful thought towards the subject discussed. Furthermore, it is necessary for the individuals to comprise their own ideas towards the subject matter in order to provide different point of views. Amabile analyzes and suggests that this procedure not only allows for more emotions to be incorporated, but also stimulates greater directions in the end. Using four stages of personal, direct, symbolic and fantasy analogy, synectics allows for one to be placed in different perspectives of the subject, stimulating more creative elements throughout the process. Yet to be researched on the level of effectiveness, synectics suggested by Amabile can be a useful method applicable in the classroom.

Amabile provides a further analysis of studying creativity via experimental groups that were tested. The two groups analyzed studied the same material; however one was controlled while the other was not. Results not only proved that uncontrolled participants showed significant increase in their level of originality as well as flexibility.

Issues raised in Amabile’s article hint that creativity requires a suitable space for individuals to train and develop on. For instance, many creative programs put emphasis on cognitive procedures, where the focus falls on methods and rules that lead towards generating new ideas. In this case, creativity from a social psychological perspective becomes more limiting. Given the option of “choosing” plays a huge role in a child’s level of creativity, those that had a choice have showcased elements of higher creativity, while those who had no choice, produced less. As well, the concept of “modeling” also has shown through certain particular studies that will improve creativity in individuals. The question then becomes, which methods are most affective for teachers in the classroom?

A section on implications and music education provided by the author, suggests many applications teachers can select from. The first and basic factor is to provide the appropriate atmosphere and environment for creativity to occur, having special programs and/or materials handy for those who showcase special “talents”, can provide a leeway for creativity to be developed even further. Setting aside time in the classroom for “discovering” and identifying is a crucial step, hence Amabile’s suggestion on “quantity” over “quality”. Allowing students the opportunity to explore and find their ideas and answers should be allotted into lessons in order for creativity to develop. Allowing interaction and providing encouragement in the “field of” creativity should be consistent throughout the classroom, so that all students have equal amount of chances to develop their creative mind.


In the later portion of Amabile’s chapter on creativity, the author stimulates many interesting points towards how to teach, rather than what to teach. From an educator’s standpoint, this is an important aspect, and technically speaking, a component of creativity – in which quantity should be applied in the classroom from time to time, instead of focusing on quality. In order to avoid children’s creativity steering in the wrong direction, Amabile provides several reminders, including focusing on intrinsic elements, rather than the extrinsic motive. Students (and parents) are often misguided and simply read final grades in report cards and assessments, comments and the process always seem to be neglected. Through the lens of Amabile’s perspective on creativity, I see the consequences if quality were put as the main focus.

Amabile suggests the more control framed on creativity, the less effective it will be in the end. I definitely see truth in this statement, because creativity is one of the most difficult components to frame a ‘grade’ on. Often, it is purely up to the individual’s mind set, as well as what he/she may be thinking throughout the process of brainstorming and developing their final thought. Similarly speaking, music’s field of ‘improvisation’ seems to fall under the same roof in which it is often very challenging to judge whether or not a piece of improvised music is ‘creative or not’? Yet, improvisation allows for an individual to explore, apply brainstorming ideas to, and ‘evaluate’ from different perspectives whether or not his/her ideas followed through. In this situation, the idea of quantity is applied first, rather than looking at the final product itself.

I think this is an element that requires a lot of balancing in the classroom, for a classroom still requires a structural framework. However, once a teacher neglects the idea of creativity, quality has fully taken over quantity. I say this because creativity is a component that eats up time and requires planning on the teacher’s behalf. In many situations, it may be disregarded in order to keep up with scheduling and curriculum demands. Thus I say it requires strong classroom management and proper balancing techniques. Amabile suggests however, the consequences in the long run should creativity be neglected. This can close up doors to many individuals, especially those who show lack of confidence to begin with. In other words, teachers should be more considerate when planning around their lessons, in order to accommodate all different learners in their classroom, fitting creativity as an “essential element” into their lessons.

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