The Benefits of Creative Thinking

Annette Wagner

Annette Wagner, 7 November 2018

There is growing awareness that the value of creativity is being overlooked, especially in our school systems. This article considers the shifting focus from STEM to STEAM and asks how creativity in classrooms teaches children to adapt and thrive. 

In a recent article in the Financial Review, Mark Eggleton reviews the CPA Congress 2018, and explores why we should think outside the box on creative thinking. Mykel Dixon told the group our greatest asset is our ability to learn and adapt but suggests it’s our creativity that allows us to do it. The problem is we tend to only think of creativity in terms of the arts and self-expression. For Dixon, our ability to learn and be creative is taught-out-of-us from a young age, and it’s also being stifled in large organisations. We have focused on STEM learning but we’re now waking up to the fact that we’ll have machines to do all that stuff. It’s not an art versus science argument but a broadening of STEM to STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics).

Dixon suggests a focus on creativity is key for organisations to thrive in the future, it’s how they can create experiences for clients and develop new ways of delivering value outside of what’s done in past. He says having that courage to bring more creativity into the workplace shifts people's thought processes and promotes collaboration. What we're left with, if we're going to thrive, is that ability to adapt and learn.

Steve Sammartino shares similar sentiments in his book, The Lessons School Forgot. Sammartino argues school wasn’t designed with us in mind, rather for industrialists to create compliant factory workers. He questions whether the school system shouldn’t be preparing us for the jobs of tomorrow and encouraging creativity.

Teresa Amabile, a social psychologist from Harvard who studies creativity, was recently featured on the popular podcast Freakonomics. Amabile shared her thoughts on the focus on assessment and evaluation in the education system, from kindergarten through to college. “There’s too much focus on what is the right answer, what are people going to think of what I’m about to say? and too little focus on what am I learning, what cool stuff do I know now that I didn’t know last week or a year ago, what cool things can I do now that I couldn’t do before? And I think that if we could switch that focus, we would do a lot to open up kids’ creativity." 

"Kids come intrinsically motivated to learn and we stamp that out of them through the education system. I don’t think it’s impossible to reorient the way we teach. It’s not going to be easy. but I think we can do it. I think we have to do it.”

Whatever the barriers are for changing the inclusion of creativity in our schooling system, and our acceptance of its broader value, it is important to consider the long term holistic economic, cultural vibrancy, adaptive climate and sustainable community implications if we don’t.

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