The social challenges facing our society cannot, for the most part, be mastered by existing technical solutions or current knowledge. Rather, new innovations and a continuously expanding level of knowledge are required. People must be able to understand increasingly complex situations and to solve problems. This is often only possible if existing patterns are broken down and individuals think and act independently of conventional structures. This raises the question of what significance creativity will have in our future everyday lives. This post will look at why creative thinking and acting is becoming increasingly important, how creativity can be consciously promoted and to what extent it fosters innovation.
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Many people associate creativity exclusively with various art forms and not with other areas of everyday life. This perception is distorted, however, as thinking and acting creatively can be beneficial in almost all areas of our lives. It is correct, however, that there are different types of creativity, with all of them having value. However, many factors have a significant influence on whether creativity actually finds its way into our everyday lives. The respective culture, the work of various institutions or even adequate incentives can have an impact on whether the conditions for a creative environment are created. Such an environment, however, benefits not only individuals who want to express themselves artistically, but also the economy. Many of the challenges we face in our everyday lives can only be mastered through innovative approaches, and for this to succeed, existing patterns of action must be broken down and outdated ways of thinking must be changed. Organizations are therefore becoming increasingly dynamic and trying to act in a solution-oriented manner. Due to their very nature, innovations cannot be achieved with already existing patterns of action, as something new and previously unknown is created. They are based on the two components creativity and knowledge. Innovative action can thus be understood as the creative application of (new) knowledge. Large cities and metropolitan regions are often the center of innovation because they have the necessary appeal to attract new talent and promote it accordingly – for example, in the context of academic training at highly qualified universities or in research institutions.¹
The importance of creativity for personal well-being and new innovations is undisputed. It should therefore be a given that it is fostered in the individual environment. Not only educational institutions, but also the family and circle of friends have a duty to create such an environment. However, state institutions in particular often find it difficult to implement appropriate measures. One reason for this is certainly the fact that there is no definition of what is meant by creativity in everyday education. Yet creative learning and experimentation are particularly important in knowledge-based societies. Some institutions, therefore, already rely on partnerships with artists and other external individuals to foster an appropriate learning environment. However, if educators have their way, required professional development opportunities and learner assessment, in particular, are key implementation hurdles. Experimental and independent learning is difficult to assess, and teachers must additionally acquire new methodological skills.² However, the goal of the linear educational pathway is often only knowledge accumulation on the part of learners, and the school system is designed to assess progress against a predetermined curriculum. A high level of knowledge alone, is no longer sufficient, however, as it is currently not even known what knowledge will be needed in the future. Since the existing system is only suitable to a limited extent, almost all developed countries are placing an increasingly strong focus on promoting creativity. At the same time, however, it should not be forgotten that emerging and developing countries will also have a greater need for creative human capital at a later date.³
Creativity is often seen as an individual characteristic that one may or may not possess. However, it is more likely to be assumed that creative thinking and acting can be acquired with sufficient practice. Anyone who can remember their childhood will have situations in mind in which playful experimentation or their own curiosity led to results that were not planned in advance. Without corresponding structures to which one’s own actions were oriented everyone thus gave free rein to their creativity. However, what is often referred to as childlike behavior appears to be an important trait in the future that employers will explicitly look for when searching for new employees. Individuals who are aware of the importance of creativity for everyday life but also for their professional life should thus create an environment for themselves that allows them to build up this crucial ability. One approach could be, for example, to consciously enter an unknown environment so that one is forced to search for alternative behavior or decision-making patterns. One thing at least seems certain: one should not currently rely on state educational institutions to promote one’s own creativity.
Instead of encouraging experimental and solution-oriented behavior, traditional educational pathways tend to inhibit creativity and independence. If the sincere intention is to change these circumstances, then the focus in the future must be more on the individual than on the curriculum. People are different and so is the way they learn. Taking individuality into account represents an important success factor when it comes to gaining necessary knowledge and skills. In an environment in which almost all information is available digitally, the question arises anyway as to what extent the pure imparting of knowledge is still appropriate for these times. Instead, the focus could also be on learning relevant methods and other soft skills. Even if this could not achieve the desired effect, however, it can be assumed that such a change would nevertheless be associated with positive changes. Perhaps with the help of a more playful approach, it would be possible to give children, adolescents and also adults back the joy of learning that is often lost in everyday school life. Even if creativity and the potential for innovation were not directly promoted in this way, this would still seem to be a worthwhile and lucrative goal. Unfortunately, as long as mistakes are systematically punished and risks are minimized, it is hard to imagine that this goal could be achieved in the near future.
The ability to think and act outside existing structures will in all likelihood dominate our everyday lives in the future. Many challenges facing society as a whole can only be overcome through innovation, and creativity will be a central building block when it comes to what innovative solutions will look like. It is only the creative use of (new) knowledge that makes innovation possible at all and moves our society forward in the long term. Individuals who know the value of their own creativity and are aware that this ability can be learned should invest early on in an environment that enables them to foster creativity. Educational institutions currently have little or no capacity to foster this ability. However, the importance of creativity is increasingly coming to the public’s attention, so it can be assumed that this sector will undergo a long overdue transformation in the near future. Until this actually happens, however, everyone should devote some of their time and energy to the self-directed promotion of their individual creativity.
¹ Yusuf, S. (2007). From creativity to innovation. World Bank Policy Research Working Paper, (4262).
² Collard, P., & Looney, J. (2014). Nurturing creativity in education. European Journal of Education, 49(3), 348-364.
³ Shaheen, R. (2010). Creativity and education. Creative education, 1(3), 166-169. https://doi.org/10.4236/ce.2010.13026.