Sunday, July 17, 2011

Undefining "Creative"

I remember in grade school (back in the dark ages) our class was given a test to determine how creative we were. One of the questions was "How many different routes do you take to school?" The premise was if you took new ways to and from school every day that meant you were more likely to be creative than those who regularly took the same route.

Seeing things in a new light, expressing yourself, exploring and coming up with new directions are normally associated with people in the arts but really, what makes their ways of thinking different from the normal ways of problem solving?

Nothing. Because we are all thinking machines: working the numbers, building new vistas, and climbing mountains.

Divergent thinking (the ability to think of diverse and original ideas i.e. brainstorming) followed by convergent thinking (the ability to use logical thinking to narrow those ideas to ones best suited for given situations) allows us to make well-formed decisions. Whether it's deciding how to put paint on a canvas so others can find some value, or deciding where to put a door in a wall to allow ease of access.

So, back to my grade school test. Perhaps the question should have been, "How many different routes can you think of to come to school?" I'm thinking everyone in that class would have been classified "creative." 

We are, after all, all fruit from the same tree.


  1. If it was sunny and blue skies, I took one route.
    If it was raining, I took another route.
    If it was raining to the point of flood stage, I took yet another route. The creativity was in balancing the fun of the trek against the risk of not making it to class on time ;p

  2. Grade school was a lot like China under Mao. Everyone had to conform to a single standard. How exactly can one be creative in those circumstances? Of course it didn't help that we were seated alphabetically and (after first grade where we sat in a circle) I always ended up in the last row. Boring.

  3. Even in grade five, we thought it was a pretty silly question...