- List the aspects of a creative work environment.
- Describe strategies for nurturing creative dispositions in adult learners.
- Model creativity in your daily work.
- Brainstorm responses to common staff characteristics related to creativity.
"Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up." - Pablo Picasso
Throughout this course, you have reflected on children’s creativity, your own creativity, and the creativity of the staff members around you. You have learned that creativity is something that we all have. Spaces and experiences can inspire creativity. In this lesson, you will learn how to cultivate creativity in your workplace.
Aspects of the Work Environment that Stimulate Creativity
Similar to the way program spaces cultivate creativity in children, your work environment cultivates creativity in adult learners. Educational psychology professor James Kaufman has identified eight aspects of the work environment that cultivate creativity (Kaufman, 2009, p. 49):
Nurturing Creative Dispositions in Adult Learners
You are an instructional leader in your program: You help nurture excellence in curriculum and programming. Your daily interactions can help set the tone for creativity among the staff members. In the Observe section of this lesson, you will read about several different ways staff members might approach creativity. You will have a chance to think about how you can respond to each staff member. There are several things you can think about to help you prepare to nurture creativity.
Be flexible and open-minded:
Staff members should feel safe sharing their ideas with you and admitting when they are out of ideas. This requires flexibility and open-mindedness. Listen without judging ideas. Encourage brainstorming. Instead of saying, “No” or “Yes, but…,” consider saying, “Yes, and…,” adding your own ideas. Truly creative teams generate a lot of ideas. Once those ideas are generated, the team can work together to think critically about which ideas will work best.
This course has talked a great deal about thinking creatively about problems. You don’t need a problem to make you think creatively, though! Help staff get excited and stay excited about their work.
You should strive to be considered a trusted mentor to staff members. Expect creativity in your program and praise it when you see it.
The simplest thing you can do to cultivate creativity is to model creativity yourself. You have many opportunities to exercise your creativity throughout the day. Here are a few ways you can model creativity:
- Take a break to exercise your body and your mind. Go for a walk on your lunch hour, call a friend, or simply get a change of scenery. Getting exercise or changing your perspective can spark different ways of thinking.
- Play! Adults need play time too. Gather a collection of interesting objects and simple materials from classrooms. See what adults can create. Display their creations and stories around the building. Keep an in-progress puzzle or board game in your office and encourage staff members to join in when they have a moment.
- Participate in fun, creative challenges. Post “brain teasers” in the staff area and give a prize to the winners. You could also find an uncommon kitchen utensil at a home store, and display it in the lobby. Ask families, children, and staff to guess what it is. Award prizes to the most creative answers.
- Join in classrooms or programs. When children and staff are being creative together, get involved. Show your enthusiasm and enjoyment.
Now let’s think about the kinds of adults you might encounter in your program. While these categories are not exhaustive, they give an idea of some attitudes towards creative experiences. After reading the scenario, think about what you would say and do to support the professional growth of each type of staff member relative to creativity.
Candice is a very concrete thinker. She has a hard time seeing beyond the original purpose of materials. She often corrects children if they begin to build a structure that does not look realistic. She frequently uses match-to-sample art activities. Children in her program create very lovely products, but each one is the same. She puts a lot of time into planning and preparing for experiences.
James is very focused on preparing children for the “real world.” He is very good at talking about academics with children, and he seems to enjoy his time with the children. He encourages children to always make their work represent the world around them: he only places out certain colors of paint or markers for certain activities, he prefers art that is very literal, and he often corrects children when their projects appear unrealistic.
Joan is a free spirit. She believes children learn best through experience and that too much adult interaction hinders children’s learning. On her activity plans, she is able to articulate how children are meeting goals through play, but she rarely follows through with her plans.
Like Joan, Tom believes children learn through play. He does not set any time limits on children’s experiences, and he never expects a child to finish something until the child chooses to do so. Tom struggles with planning. He prefers to provide materials and see what happens.
In the first lesson of this course, you watched a few TED conference talks. To conclude the course, watch one more entitled, “How to Build Your Creative Confidence” by David Kelley. Use the Creative Confidence activity to access the video link and reflect on what this means for your workplace.
We all need to be rejuvenated sometimes. The following ideas can help you spark creativity during team meetings or throughout the day. Use the Simple Ideas for Promoting Creativity Amongst Adults guide and consider whether you could use any of these ideas to help adults feel creative and energetic.
Cropley, A. J. (2001). Creativity in Education and Learning: A guide for teachers and educators. New York: Psychology Press.
Johnson, D. (2012). Developing Creativity in Every Learner. Library Media Connection. October, 2012.
Kaufman, J. C. (Ed.). (2009). Creativity 101. New York: Springer Publishing Company.
Von Oech, R. (2002) Expect the Unexpected (or You Won’t Find It): A creativity tool based on the ancient wisdom of Heraclitus. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler.
Zevin, J. (2013). Creative Teaching for All: In the box, out of the box, and off the walls. Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield.