Portrait of a Learner 4-8

Systems Change


Factor Connections

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Creativity is a dynamic and iterative process (mental, material, and/or social) of making new connections, exploring, and transforming the world in new and meaningful ways. Creativity is typically defined as a combination of divergent/experimental thinking—generating new ideas—and convergent/evaluative thinking to narrow them in, resulting in novel products that are meaningful to the creator and also, often, to the surrounding community. This creative process is a core element of all learning experiences, because individuals usually learn most effectively when they play an active role in constructing their understandings. Students' early Creativity has been shown to predict later Creativity and academic success.

Main Ideas

There are many pathways to Creativity, but in general learners are most likely to think creatively when they feel confident and supported in their ability to explore, take risks and make mistakes, to ask questions and try new solutions. Opportunities for exploration help encourage learners to come up with multiple possible solutions to a problem. Some research suggests that children with ADHD may experience more frequent “mind wandering” (a shift of focus away from a given task to other unrelated thoughts), which has been shown in some cases to lead to increased Creativity. Creativity also often emerges from Collaboration, either during play, or during semi-structured group projects, where learners can improvise, consider others perspectives, and build off one another, generating novelty both individually and as a group. That is, collaborative Creativity allows for a participatory and dynamic creative process where individuals can play different roles, bring different viewpoints, and can support learners in seeing how they can be creative in new ways.

Learner's environments across home and school play a pivotal role in encouraging Creativity. In order to allow Creativity to flourish, learners' environments must allow for flexibility—with open-ended tasks, unstructured conversations, respect for the learner, a Sense of Belonging, and independence. Providing ample time and comfort and expectations of ambiguity and failure, can support a learner's natural Creativity. In addition, creative learning is also enhanced by carefully-designed guiding structures or scaffolds, which ensures that learners are moving towards their learning goals through the creative process.

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