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Creativity Training - Yes please!

The Copenhagen Institute of NeuroCreativity (CINC) originates in the work of its founders; neuroscientist Morten Friis-Olivarius and creativity researcher and facilitator Dr. Balder Onarheim. Both found that their interests lay within the field of creativity, though from different approaches and together they eventually formed the graduate course Applied NeuroCreativity. The course is founded on the knowledge drawn from Morten’s work in the neuroscience of creativity, which combined with Balder’s expertise in creativity theory, its facilitation and implementation, has been shown to increase student’s trait creativity. The course is now taught at CBS, DTU and DIS.

In the recent years there has been a rise in creativity courses in universities all around the world, however, to our knowledge here at CINC, none other are founded on the neuroscience of creativity. This rise in creativity studies though doesn’t seem to dwell well with everybody; I e.g. came across this piece while browsing through Twitter the other day and couldn’t help but want to point out two things, research based, as counter-arguments to the main argument of the post.

First is, again, the fact that CINC’s Applied NeuroCreativity has been shown to work, represented by increased trait creativity in students, which is backed up by empirical research. Second I would like to point out why it is in deed important to increase creativity related skills. I will start by showing the paragraphs my second argument is pointed towards:

“However, dedicating more time to creativity studies would probably decrease the amount of pathbreaking innovation achieved by America’s college graduates. Throughout history, the inventors who did the most to improve Americans’ quality of life were all extremely well versed in the prior knowledge of their fields.”

“The more time students spend accumulating credits in creativity, the less they are likely to learn about the core facts and ideas of more-substantive subjects. That in turn reduces students’ likelihood of maturing into world-beating innovators. Credits focused on creativity studies also reduce how much exposure students have to facts and ideas in tangential fields. That also is likely to reduce inventiveness.”

Here I wanted to make an argument for why creativity is in deed important for innovators and other professionals alike. It is true that in order to be creative you do need domain specific skills, or expertise. However, creativity relevant skills are just as important in addition to task motivation. Together these three components form individual creativity, which in turn enables individuals to, using a popularized term, think outside the box. By having the combination of the three, innovators are able to use divergent thinking in their work, i.e. come up with multiple solutions, and consequently combine them in novel and appropriate ways while converging into a solution, whether it is a product, a new theory or a piece of art.

Finally, I wanted to point out an argument the author makes that I actually agree upon:

“Ultimately, if American colleges and universities are to promote inventiveness effectively, they need to get more creative about how they teach creativity.”

At CINC we are currently working on research relating to creativity and education, both how we can enable students to be more creative through the Applied NeuroCreativity course, as well as how we can enable teachers to be more creative themselves. Recent research has shown that teachers that are confident in their creative abilities actually produce more creative and innovative students. Therefore we are e.g. dedicating efforts to research ways to boost teacher’s creative confidence. We will keep you posted on our process concerning that.

Dagný Valgeirsdóttir

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