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developing creativity : resources to develop your creativity

Research on Creativity

Creativity May Play A Key Role In Healthy Aging Creative activities such as painting, singing, and writing should not only be encouraged as people mature, but may also improve the aging experience.  "Final study results are due next year, but preliminary data suggest participants get more than support: Compared with their elderly neighbors, they suffer less depression, make about three fewer doctor visits a year, take two fewer medications and have increased their other activities."

Is Creativity Better Under Pressure? Psychology Today reports on this research that shows that established creative artists may not perform better under the notion that their work will be judged, while less experienced people may perform better with the expectation of evaluation.

Americans For The Arts -- A collection of research showing the benefits of the arts particularly in education and its positive effects on communities. For example, Arts Students Outperform Non-Art students on SAT's (pdf file).  

Creativity Delivers Growth To The Aging Brain -- Research that presents a revised view of the brain with regenerative capacity, rather than slowly deteriorating -- provided that there is creative stimulation. "Even the mass and weight of the brain may increase as a result of regular creative exertion, a phenomenon scientists call 'neurogenesis.'" (from FOCUS Volume 15, Number 1, January-February 2003).

Critical Evidence: How The Arts Benefit Student Achievement -- Strong evidence in support of the arts, including these details:
  • In a well-documented national study using a federal database of over 25,000 middle and high school students, researchers from the University of California at Los Angeles found students with high arts involvement performed better on standardized achievement tests than students with low arts involvement.
  • Multiple independent studies have shown increased years of enrollment in arts courses are positively correlated with higher SAT verbal and math scores. High school students who take arts classes have higher math and verbal SAT scores than students
    who take no arts classes.
  • The relationship between drama and the development of literacy skills among
    young children is well documented.
This is just a taste of the many documented nuggets showing the high impact and value of the arts to academic success.

Arts and Wellbeing -- From the summary: "Australian and overseas research shows that direct involvement by communities in arts activity can contribute significantly to individual and community wellbeing and can enhance the efforts of government agencies in realising their policies for community wellbeing and ecologically sustainable communities." Includes access to an assortment of PDF files, including Community Strengthening, Health, and Social Inclusion and Diversity.

Making The Case for The Arts -- From the California Arts Council.
a study commissioned by the California Arts Council (CAC), reveals that the nonprofit arts in California are a vibrant economic engine that:
  • adds some $5.4 billion to the state's economy
  • supports more than 160,000 jobs
  • generates nearly $300 million in state and local taxes
  • ranks California as the nation's leader with more arts-related businesses and more people employed in the creative industries than in any other state
  • are the equivalent of 10,000 small businesses

Creating Creativity With Music, Norman M. Weinberger
While building the case for music's positive effects on development, this article cites several studies and sources. Music, especially when experienced actively as in creating music, produces positive effects on one's creativity. "In the other study, Hamann et al tested high school students, whose experiences included theatrical and visual arts.(16) Once again, and perhaps not surprisingly, the authors found that music students exhibited greater creativity than non-music students. Theater students also scored significantly higher..."

Creativity: Method or Magic by Steven Harnard -- Fairly academic rendering of several views on what constitutes creativity. Of interest to those of us enamored of the performing arts is the idea expressed here that performance, especially theatrical performance, provides special insights into creativity because it happens right before your eyes. To quote the article,

The performing arts may in fact be especially revealing about creativity because they "externalize it," so to speak, making it happen before your very eyes. The lessons one learns from it are familiar ones: Much preparation and craft, considerable imitation of the past, an aesthetic sense guiding one's taste in innovation, and the ability and inclination to do something worthwhile, convincing and new with the raw material. Before the "creative" and "performing" arts were separated, one might have watched with one's own eyes while a performing poet-minstrel, in the thrall of an inspired moment -- guided by his muse -- elaborated an inherited (prepared) tale in a new and inspired way during an improvisatory performance.

Includes just three footnotes and seven "recommended readings"

An Overview of Synoptics and Six Challenges of Creativity by Martin Hyatt -- This is in the "problem solving" school of thought on creativity. Useful, but a restricted way of examining creativity. One way to express this type of thinking around creativity is to call it innovation: coming up with a new solution in an old context or breaking thru existing constraints to install some form of improvement. The six challenges defined here include:

  1. How do we generate ideas that meet the opposing constaints of novelty and utility?
  2. How do we know when the full space of potential ideas has been generated?
  3. How can we develop or refine creativity techniques and practice?
  4. How do we ask the right questions?
  5. How can one manage the explosion of knowledge and channel it into potential solutions?
  6. How can one deal with the large number of possible alternatives that can be generated?
Thoughtful read if you're interested in creativity as problem solving, but this fourteen page PDF document is missing a reference page so good luck in finding the citations.

"The drop out rate decreased by 21% where area schools offer music and arts education."
-- Newsweek, 4/14/97

The Power of Ordinary Practicies -- Research summarized here by Theresa Amabile as interviewed by Michael Roberts for Harvard Working Knowledge shows that leaders can increase both the productivity and creativity of their team thru supporting and developing  behaviors. The article is short and yet filled with great ideas, plus this marvelous connection to creativity:
"I believe that a focus on creativity is absolutely essential for current business success. I define creativity as producing novel, workable ideas and solutions to problems; innovation is implementing those ideas within an organizational context. You need novel and useful ideas at all stages of a process, from early idea generation up through successful implementation. I maintain that creativity is possible and desirable in all forms of work, no matter what people are doing. In particular, knowledge workers require creativity."

Related article, Time Pressure and Creativity, stating that "the results suggest that, overall, very high levels of time pressure should be avoided if you want to foster creativity on a consistent basis. However, if a time crunch is absolutely unavoidable, managers can try to preserve creativity by protecting people from fragmentation of their work and distractions; they should also give people a sense of being "on a mission," doing something difficult but important. I don't think, though, that most people can function effectively in that mode for long periods of time without getting burned out." In short, you don't make people work better or more creativity by imposing unrealistic deadlines on them. There's more worth reading here also in Amabile's ongoing research on creativity in the workplace.

The Child's Right to Creative Thought and Expression -- This is a position paper and yet has a robust list of citations backing its assertions and supporting creativity and development.

For more information on developing your creativity, contact Doug
Updated 25 January 2007 | Copyright 2007 Doug Smith
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