Defining creative thinking is a rather daunting task. As proof of the fact that it is not an easy concept to circumscribe, there are many points of view with which science has studied creativity since the second half of the nineteenth century and the many definitions that have emerged from it.
On the other hand, it is important to clarify what creative thinking is, otherwise you risk continuing to use this term improperly and losing the opportunity to develop an important skill, divergent thinking, useful to everyone and in any context. . Creativity is a gift that we all possess and that each of us can perfect. It is a skill that does not only concern the arts sector, as you might think, but that can be applied to all areas of life.
Creative thinking has to do with the ability to connect different elements to create something innovative, new solutions, and experimenting with streets never stops. We are talking about a skill that will be increasingly important in the future: for this reason, it is right that schools begin to give more space to techniques through which to develop the divergent thinking of children and young people, also through techniques of Digital loan Storytelling.
Creative thinking can be enhanced through specific exercises and courses in creative writing, but also by reading books that deal with the subject and offer practical examples.
Let’s find out more about what creative thinking is and how to develop it.
What is meant when we talk about creative thinking?
Defining creativity is anything but simple. It is such an elusive and multifaceted concept that it is very complicated (if not impossible) to harness it within fixed and precise definitions.
Over the years, science itself has provided different definitions, not to mention the use that is made of this term in common language: the words ” creative ” and ” creativity ” are used in very different contexts and often also inappropriately, without a real awareness of their deeper value.
The meaning attributed to creativity has evolved a lot over time, since the first studies on it began, starting from the second half of the nineteenth century. The development that this concept has experienced over the decades, following the contributions of various psychologists and researchers, testifies that we are faced with something complex and multidimensional, which cannot be analyzed from a single point of view and which does not concern a single field of study.
So let’s try to better understand what is meant by creative thinking.
Creativity: how the concept has evolved over time
The word “creativity” comes from Latin, and the root of the term ( kar ) comes from Sanskrit. In Sanskrit, karma-oti means “to create”, “to do”, while kar-tr means “he who does”, “creator”.
Over time, the concept of creativity has been studied from numerous angles and associated with various aspects of the human mind. It has also undergone an interesting transformation. Summarizing and simplifying the research path, we have gone from considering creativity as a gift in the possession of a few talented people (therefore something exceptional) to considering it a characteristic common to all individuals, which everyone can develop and put into practice in areas different.
As for the use of the adjective “creative” in common language, since the 1970s the term has taken on meanings that make it synonymous with words such as “imaginative” and “inventive”, so much so that it becomes indicative of a profession, that of the creative in sectors such as Marketing, fashion, and design. In some sectors, however, the word has also acquired negative connotations to indicate something that is opposed to logic and rationality (think of the term “creative finance”, for example).
What is certain is that creativity is often still considered by many people as something that is the prerogative of a few. An innate talent, therefore, as the first studies intended, which one has or does not have, and which also concerns circumscribed areas of existence, such as art. It would therefore make little sense to talk about creative thinking if one operates in different contexts. Nothing more false.
DO YOU WANT MORE INFORMATION ABOUT MY ONLINE WRITING WORKSHOP?
Write me your email address! I will contact you as soon as possible.
Creative thinking: a gift that everyone has and can put into practice
The contradictions that emerge from the studies conducted over the years make us understand that the concept of creativity cannot be treated simplistically and superficially. Creativity is anything but flat, schematic, and one-dimensional.
A very significant definition, which sums up the deepest sense of creativity, comes from the mathematician Henri Poincaré: “ Creativity is combining existing elements with new connections, which are useful. “
Poincaré’s thought is very interesting and touches on several important points. First of all, this definition of creativity is valid for all sectors: art, science, and technology. So let’s dispel the myth that creative thinking is only useful for limited areas of reality.
In addition, from Poincaré’s definition we deduce other relevant aspects:
- Nothing is created out of nothing. Creative thinking develops from something that already exists, intending to give it new forms.
- You have to know how to combine the right elements. Creativity means knowing how to put together pre-existing elements, but not random elements: therefore you need the ability to select the right elements to combine from those available.
- The combinations must be new and useful. The combination produced must be new and useful, that is, functional for the purpose.
Creative thinking, therefore, is the ability to connect distant elements to give life to new opportunities, paths, solutions. It means going beyond the known perimeter, distancing oneself from pre-established paths and from ideas commonly considered valid and rational to achieve something different.
Creativity is part of each of us. Too often we ignore it, in the mistaken belief that we do not have this gift or that we have no advantage in enhancing it when instead there are many benefits of developing creative thinking. All areas of life and all professions can benefit from it.
And if we work in the field of Copywriting for Marketing, therefore we write to sell, perfecting creative thinking will allow us to improve our writing style and find intelligent and effective solutions to engage and persuade consumers.
At the same time, opening the door to creativity is also important for those who write for passion, for example, to connect with themselves by exploiting the therapeutic potential of writing. This is because writing is good, especially when we go back to using pen and paper and use handwriting.
Naturally, to be fully developed, creative thinking needs an environment that favors its improvement and evolution, starting with school education, as we will see.
Creative thinking, divergent thinking, lateral thinking – are they the same?
Divergent thinking is deeply connected to creative thinking and creativity in general. Divergent thinking concerns the ability to find alternative solutions and ways for a problem to be solved, in particular when the problem does not include a single correct solution.
It was the psychologist Joy Paul Guilford who differentiated and defined divergent thinking and convergent thinking. Convergent thinking, as opposed to divergent, is used when the problem involves a single definite answer, so we need a more coherent and rational approach.
Psychologist Edward De Bono, on the other hand, speaks of lateral thinking, meaning a way of solving problems through which we look at the question to be solved from different points of view. A modality that contrasts with vertical (and therefore rational ) thinking and which aims to identify new paths compared to those usually taken.
As we can understand, divergent thinking and lateral thinking are closely connected to creative thinking, understood as the ability to find alternative solutions to problems, to the ability to develop innovative paths.
Although divergent thinking is opposed to convergent one, and lateral thinking is the opposite of vertical one, one thought is not better than the other: they are different but complementary systems, which allow us to look at reality and solve problems. It is up to the person to understand when to put one or the other into practice.
The importance of adopting divergent thinking in school
Divergent thinking and convergent thinking, therefore, are both important. However, schools have always tended to prioritize convergent and rational thinking over divergent thinking.
Students are taught to apply linear thinking and a series of schemes and processes to reach a single answer, the one considered correct, but there is no room for lateral thinking. Thus we grow up with the idea that problems must always have a single solution and that precise rules must be followed to find the right answer. In such a context, the most fervent and creative minds are often not valued sufficiently.
Of course, certain situations require a rational approach to be dealt with correctly, but this is not always the case. Reality isn’t always like that. Reality is hardly linear and predictable: all the more so today.
The world we live in is complex, full of opportunities and sudden changes that cannot be faced exclusively with rational thinking. Problem-solving skills will be increasingly required of future generations. Not only at work, but also in life. For this reason, the school should teach children and young people to develop creative thinking: only in this way, one day, will they be able to grasp the possibilities offered, overcome obstacles and build value for themselves and others.
Unlike in the past, future generations will hardly find themselves doing the same job throughout their lives: they will have to be ready to change, learn new concepts, find different solutions. And this is where divergent thinking will come into play. At the same time, companies will also increasingly need resources capable of thinking “outside the box” to survive in an increasingly competitive world. Creative thinking, therefore, is the competence of the future. A basic skill that everyone must know how to apply to adapt and evolve in an unpredictable and constantly changing reality.
Because Storytelling is crucial to teaching how to be creative
A tool that in the educational field can stimulate students, especially secondary school students, to develop creative thinking is Storytelling.
Storytelling, the art of building stories and narrative devices, helps to create those neural connections that are fundamental for:
- create associations and metaphors through the story ;
- memorize concepts better ;
- develop imagination and creativity ;
- find simple solutions to complex problems.
Storytelling in teaching, therefore, promotes the learning process, makes it more addictive, allows to overcome the teaching of the vertical type and to acquire valuable transversal skills as, indeed, creative thinking.
How to cultivate creative thinking: tips and exercises
Educating in creative thinking is possible at any age. To do this, however, we need to dispel some false beliefs that tend to block us, for example:
- it must be acknowledged that often there is no single answer to a problem ;
- we must not discard an idea just because it is different from what has always been done or because it is bizarre;
- we must forget the fear of making mistakes: it is completely normal to make mistakes before finding the right solution.
Now let’s see some tips and exercises useful for developing creative thinking.
It consists in bringing together all the people involved in the project and letting each of them freely express their ideas without censorship. In this phase we have to stimulate people to be spontaneous, even if their ideas appear strange and infeasible: there will be time during the next phase to examine all the proposals and evaluate their real effectiveness.
The technique of the six hats
It is a method devised by the aforementioned Edward De Bono. It serves to detach oneself from the thought patterns to which one is accustomed: each hat represents a different point of view from which to observe a problem, it leads us to play a different role and to abandon our way of thinking to look at reality from another angle.
Detach from the problem
Sometimes, distancing yourself from the problem is the best option to find the solution. When we stop focusing on it, the mind continues to work on it, even if we do not realize it: this can lead to sudden and unexpected intuitions.
Mind maps and other exercises
The mind maps are visual representations of thought and are effective because they stimulate mental processes and the development of new connections.
Other interesting exercises are, instead, inventing a new use for everyday objects or writing a short story starting from a few words.