(cross-posted in Five Minds for the Future group)

"According to Csikszentmihalyi, creativity occurs when--and only when--an individual or group product generated in a particular domain is recognized by the relevant field as innovative..." (page 51, Five Minds for the Future)

"Indeed, the acid test for creativity is simply stated: has the domain in which you operate been significantly altered by your contribution? The good news : because there is no statute of limitations, you can never know for sure that you have not been creative!"

Ideas for examples?

Tags: books, cognition, creativity

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I'm not sure what you're saying here, but I LOVE the work of Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi (pronounced "Smith," according to one book I read a few years ago). :)

HIs notion of "flow" in the creative mind and environment is very natural and pervasive throughout my own life (a fairly creative person) and in my observations of my students. For me, this "flow" is particularly noticeable in the gifted and in those with learning disabilities; when the flow is occurring, good luck breaking in!!
Creativity is natural and pervasive to me, too. I'm not saying I've done any masterworks, unless living daily life fully would count for this, with a good amount of playfulness amidst life's tasks. (From the quote at the start of the forum, you'd think you could point to something and say assuredly, "Yes, that's a creative work. Meets every definition of the term." ) This is something in the book that is bugging me, this tendency to think a state of mind could be captured and frozen in time as a "this" or a "that." It's all flux and flow and interblendings of various states. But I digress...

I think creativity is process. It isn't finished, ever. Maybe there are good reflections of the creative process along the way, but mostly it's a "how" sort of thing, not a "what." Gail Godwin wrote in one of her novels " ...work of art is not the object but the reflection of its path..." or something like that.

There's a wonderful description of The Creating Mind on page 83 in Five Minds for the Future. "The creator stands out in terms of temperament, personality, and stance. she is perennially dissatisfied with current work, current standards, current questions, current answers. She strikes out in unfamiliar directions and enjoys--or at least accepts--being different from the pack. When an anomaly arises (an unfamiliar musical chord, an unexpected experimental result, a spike or dip in the sale of goods in an unfamiliar territory), she does not shrink from that unexpected wrinkle: indeed, she wants to understand it and to determine whether it constitutes a trivial error, an unrepeatable fluke, or an important but hitherto unknown truth..."

Later on the page: "Creative activity harbors more than its share of heartaches; but the "flow" that accompanies a fresh insight, a breakthrough work, or a genuine invention can be addictive." Gardner has it down, on this one. Must be a state he's familiar with, too.

That concept of flow rings true to me: flow, the expression of it, and moving on with more flow. Opinion: the best state of mind! (By the way, often especially prominent in SUMMER, wouldn't you say?!)

Ginger, I do see it strongly in the two groups of kids you mentioned. And perhaps strongest of all in the the ones who are both gifted and learning disabled. Creativity is my best tool for reaching them.
I have tried two projects to flirt with creativity this year. The first for students completing a unit of work title "Working with Children." For sure, we have certain policies and issues to cover, but I gave the students a "blue sky" or big picture task. Plan, organise and deliver a mini Olympics for a local school. It is a 60 hour unit, we will see how they get on.

The second is an online collaboration project trying collect old football shirts (soccer jerseys) to send out to 3rd world schools. We gave it to the students last week (18 in total), they have had some wild and wonderful ideas already. These students are 16-17 yr old and recognise their strengths and weaknesses. They decided to "hire" and adult with charity experience, extend the project and convene a committee. I let you know more as we go.


So according to this, I can never pronounce my own work as "creative." There is no "feeling creative." You know, I have heard it said that in teaching there is no really new approach, just redefined strategies and approaches according to new tools, new cultural situations, etc. Do we buy that or does that describe the teaching of the past as opposed to 21st century teaching?

Something to think about.
I always try to encourage my students (and children) to reserve judgment for a moment when encountering something new. Creativity is by definition, just that, making something new. If we are to "judge" we usually favor that which is not new. We are comfortable... and as a result we stay with the familiar.

I try to live my life with an open mind. I'm not sure how creative I am, but it affords me the opportunity to more fully experience the unfamiliar and perhaps grow from it!

Thanks for the thought!

Sue P
Hello Sue P and Julia,

When I reread Gardner's words on creativity, they seem kind of stuffy. I agree with Ginger that it's more like a state of mind, a "getting into the flow."

Kristian, your projects are marvelously creative, and profoundly meaningful as well.

I think creativity is a good topic to keep alive, because so much of schooling kills creativity. Could we think of the "creative state of mind" as a natural resource we have to nurture and watch over?

Thanks for the thoughts!
Yes! I agree with your comment on creativity in our education system. At the secondary level- in my world, the focus is totally results and numbers driven. Our focus is getting students through the "tests" and keeping them passing so they don't drop out. It is a challenge to combine that with time and opportunity for freedom to "create".

I am glad to see creativity addressed in a technology-related site.

However, I suspect that a philosophical, intellectual and technological investigation leads into mazes of words and concepts...with little insight.

An analogy to the distraction posed by making the identification of creativity an academic problem might be the process of learning(?) to ride a bicycle by reading a book. The rider will need a super-sized set of training wheels and never move beyond using them. Such a rider will never progress beyond the absolute beginner stage.

We might call the influence of words upon the creative process to be "word blindness," i.e., we can be blinded by the words and kept from the direct experience of the creative process.

I address creativity from the vantage points of conscious mind/ unconscious mind roles, Sensory Modalities, Creative Imagination and Neuro-Linguistic Programming's "Future Pacing," in the February Classroom Toolkit Newsletter (Publication Date 2-29-08).

If anyone wants me send a preview draft, please send a message to:


(Note: I cannot post a duplicate draft here because of Google's search rank penalties for duplicate content.)



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