Main Idea: This article discusses how the collective definitions, perceptions, and myths about creativity have evolved and changed over time. The definitions discussed originate from Western cultural ideals and expand upon how they have changed over time and affect people in a school setting. The article continues to discuss and clarify contemporary meanings that are associated with the term creativity. The article also discusses the concept of “domains,” with teachers, often unconsciously, subscribing to these ideals and incorporating them into their lesson plans. Domains also demonstrate how creativity can be taken to a higher level of skill and experience critique. Art has also been shown to create social cohesion through the usage of symbols.
Supporting Key Concepts:
Due to the generalized vagueness of the term creativity, research in art education of the term and concept has been dismissed for the most recent generation of art educators. Without creativity implemented into the educational system, an entire generation of students may be ill-prepared for the continuous changes the world has.
Since creativity is such a broad term, it is nearly impossible to account for all definitions and aspects that creativity falls under. However, it is still important to acknowledge that the concept of creativity is so complex and multidimensional for a better understanding. New frameworks that have been developed suggest that clustering the majority of definitions and concepts together that are tied to broad terms such as creativity can offer “a range of opportunities for engaging students in creative thought in more overt and coherent ways.” (p. 9).
Milhay Csikszentmihalyi defined the term creativity as “any act, idea, or product that changes an existing domain, or that transforms an existing domain into a new one” (p. 9). Csikszentmihalyi continues with, “...a domain cannot be changed without the implicit or explicit consent of the field, as defined by the gatekeepers, experts, critics, and others who have the capacity to accept or reject the value of a creative product in a domain in which they have expertise.” (p. 9). Similar to Csikszentmihalyi, Stein (1984) suggests how, “Creativity is a process that results in novelty which is accepted as useful, tenable, or satisfying, by a significant group of others at the same point in time.” (p. 9). Stein continues to define a creative person as “...someone whose thoughts or actions change a domain or establish a new domain.” (p. 9). While the domain definitions are constraining, it allows more in-depth understandings and skills for the recognition of creative acts.
Domains are highly influential in art both in the classroom and in defining both skill and what is considered quality. Each domain has a “field” consisting of “the gatekeepers,” which are typically critics, experts on the subject matter, or others who have the capacity to accept or reject the value of a creative product due to their expertise in that domain. Thus, a domain may not be changed unless it has full approval from the gatekeepers. This “domain-changer” definition of art may seem restrictive - for example, it would imply that children are not creative because they typically do not have the full capacity to change a domain or realm of art. But, on the other hand, it enables both a more in-depth understanding of creative works and the skills necessary to produce those works and have them recognized. Teachers also may subconsciously subscribe to the ideals of a domain and incorporate them into their lesson plans.
These symbols and imagery often led to social cohesion. Students are oftentimes required to replicate a work or technical process. This replication allows students to understand what makes a work socially cohesive and acceptable while also allowing the student to understand the social context and artistic tradition of what is being learned about. It is important for students to think and engage in the context of artistic traditions because it is socially valuable and also may allow a student to generate further ideas for their own art. According to Parnes, 1988, one of the necessary ingredients for creative expression is previous knowledge and experiences related to the problem or work desired.
Art is biologically necessary for homo sapiens according to Dissanayake. It helps us adapt to and celebrate life. Creative enterprises have survival value and many have continued to exist for hundreds of years. According to Burton, 2009, not all children who learn art will become professional artists, but they all develop flexible and free minds and also have a greater ability to express themselves.
Example and Assessments: An example that was in line with the main points of the article was from Burton, 2009. In this study, Burton stated that learning art and expressing creativity was important for social growth and cohesion. He followed up on this by stating that not all children that learned art became professional artists, but all of them were able to become more flexible in mind and have a greater ability to express themselves. This was effective in demonstrating how creativity is important for social cohesion because it shows that it affects people’s ability to display their own personal traits.
Personal response: I found this topic of creativity to be a highly relevant topic to discuss because creativity is something that is discussed in every art class. However, it is usually an abstract concept that is never concretely explained, though it is always encouraged. I found it interesting to see how diverse and broad the definitions of creativity ranged, from discussing it as an umbrella term and also how deeply it spans in terms of talking about more in-depth work.
Questions How is the consensus for changing an aspect of a domain reached? Due to definitions of creativity consistently changing and evolving, what are some things that art educators can do to keep up-to-date lesson plans with current ideals on creativity? What are some specific ways that teachers can challenge students’ critical thinking skills and adaptive thinking?