Teachers — this one’s for you. While we can agree that kids are usually the ones who are asking all the questions; this time, it’s our turn to ask you some of our own.
In 2012, Adobe published State of Create, the results of a large-scale international study on how various people in the world view creativity. In total, 5,000 adults were surveyed across the US, UK, Japan, Germany, and France.
Here’s what surprised us.
#1: The Education System: The Big, Bad, Creativity-Killer?
Interestingly enough, 59% of respondents felt that their creativity was stifled by the education system.
What do you think? Should we file this statistic away as just another easy case of “scapegoating the education system,” or could there be some truth to this sentiment? Perhaps the issue isn’t so black and white. Ken Robinson, a highly-regarded figure of authority on matters of creativity and education, actually offered an answer to this question in his TED Talk. Actually, his talk was so impressive, that with over 40 million views, it holds steady as the number 1 most watched TED Talk — ever.
Now, think about your classroom…
Do you get the chance to engage your students in activities that cultivate their creativity?
Or, piled onto an already long list of other important factors — schedules, budgets, resources, materials, consistent pressures of adhering to the curriculum — does creativity unwittingly trickle down along the list of priorities, merely becoming collateral damage to the education process?
#2: Creativity — A Rare Quality, or an Innate Skill?
So, now it’s time for the really tough one:
Are you creative?
When asked this question, only 39% of respondents answered “yes.” Flip these results, and it follows that 61% of people don’t actually consider themselves to be creative—at all. What was your answer?
But wait, 61%? That’s a pretty significant number.
Is it really possible that more than half of the population doesn’t possess even one ounce of creativity in their body? Tony Buzan — praised originator of Mind Mapping, and expert on matters of the human brain, memory, creativity, and innovation — would strongly refute this proposition. In fact, Buzan believes that every single person has the innate potential to be creative. He considers creativity to be a skill, just like any other; one that can be practiced and developed by absolutely anyone, thanks to the incredible potential of the human brain.
So, How Do You Boost Creativity?
The answer is pretty simple: by using your brain to its fullest potential. Naturally, from this answer follows another question, “How do I use my brain to its fullest potential?”
Creativity and the Brain
The human brain is made up of two hemispheres — the right, which primarily deals with visual and aesthetic elements, such as rhythm, colour, shape, form, and imagination; and the left, which is primarily associated with structural and hard facts, such as language, logic, mathematics, and analysis. There’s a widely accepted misconception that creativity is only associated with the right hemisphere, and thus, more easily accessible to the right-brained “artistic” personalities. In reality, the “magic” of creativity actually happens when both hemispheres of our brain sync up and learn to work together.
Ready? Let’s Hit the (Creativity) Gym
There are various quick and easy ways you can train your brain to get its two opposing hemispheres in sync with one another. Working on these types of activities develops your brain’s “fluency” — the ability to think fast; and thus create, innovate, and adapt quickly to various situations. Here are just a few suggestions you can easily start sooner than you might think:
- Next time you brush your teeth, use the opposite hand than you normally use. Go ahead, what’s the worst that could happen?
- While you work, read, or study, add some soothing Mozart into the background — you’ll find he’s quite the attractive addition to the atmosphere; plus, this type of music stimulates alpha waves, which are known to boost creativity, support focus, and aid in concentration.
- In preparation for a project, or when you’re designing your next lesson plan, try using mind maps. Mind mapping is an effective way of giving both hemispheres of your brain their “5 minutes of fame” — all at the same time.
Hold On — What’s a Mind Map, Exactly?
The concept relies on using association to visually organize the main elements of a given concept. Not sure how to get started? Check out the 7-step outline detailing exactly how to create a mind map, from the inventor of Mind Maps himself.
Mind maps are the visual learner’s eye candy; the concrete-thinker’s tangible call to action; the procrastinator’s brightly lit path towards that sweet, sweet last-minute redemption. Using colors, visual cues, and the power of association, they provide you with a path of logical concepts, which follow and lead from one to another.
Whether you view yourself as “creative” or not, mind mapping is a technique anyone will find incredibly useful. The power of mind mapping effectively fosters creativity, strengthens memory, and develops problem-solving skills.
“Fixing” the Education System, One Humble Mind Map at a Time…
The brain is designed to quickly incorporate visual cues into memory; so the visual nature of mind maps actually proves to be helpful in teaching kids new concepts and terminologies. In fact, using mind maps has been proven to increase children’s memory by as much as 32%. (Source: Toi, H. (2009) “Research on how Mind Map improves Memory.” Paper presented at the International Conference on Thinking, Kuala Lumpur, June 22-26, 2009.)
So, perhaps teaching mind maps to your students might be a good move — you know, so when Adobe conducts a study on them in 25 years, they will actually say their creativity was enabled through the education system (and not stifled by it)…
Ready to try out mind mapping for yourself, and see what all the hype is about?
Check out our K-5 teacher’s guide on how to work with mind maps. Grab a sheet of paper, some colored pens, and have some fun!