• Why is creativity important in learning?
To answer this question, we need to start by defining what we mean by creativity. Creativity is a complex and multi-faceted phenomenon, which evades narrow definition. It occurs in many domains, including school, work, the wider world, and home. It is comparable to intelligence in a number of ways: every individual has it to some degree (Csikszentmihalyi, 1996) it can be developed; it has levels, so that we can ask ‘how creative’ an individual is (Treffinger et al., 2002); it can be expressed in many ways; and it can be viewed as both a domain specific and a general ability.
Creativity has much in common with both ‘learning’ and ‘intelligence’ and once broken down into its component elements, it often ends up being included within the bundle of wider skills that policymakers throughout the developed world believe all individuals must acquire if they are going to experience both economic and social success and fulfilment in life.
To understand creativity better, CCE has commissioned a number of literature reviews over the last decade. The latest, completed in the summer of 2011, was produced by Guy Claxton, Ellen Spencer and Bill Lucas at the Centre for Real World Learning at Winchester University. This drew on other meta-analytical reviews of the creativity literature including that of Treffinger et al. (2002) which contains a systematic review of 120 definitions of creativity. This latter study located definitions of creativity in academic papers over many years exploring the traits, characteristics, and other personal attributes distinguishing highly creative individuals from their peers. Claxton et al narrowed these down to fourteen key definitions to represent the breadth of variety in emphasis, focus, and implications for assessment of the definitions.
 Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1996). Creativity: Flow and the psychology of discovery and invention, New York, HarperCollins
 Treffinger, D., Young, G., Selby, E. & Shepardson, C. (2002). Assessing Creativity: A guide for educators. Connecticut: The National Research Centre on the Gifted and Talented.
 Claxton, G and Lucas, W (2011) Literature Review: Progression in Creativity; developing new forms of assessment, Newcastle, CCE
Claxton et al also highlighted the work of Beattie (2000) whose review shows that, since 1950, creativity has been analysed from nine different perspectives, which are: cognitive; social-personality; psychometric; psychodynamic; mystical; pragmatic or commercial and, latterly, more postmodern approaches: biological or neuroscientific; computational; and context, systems or confluent approaches. Beattie also notes the extraordinary range of approaches to the study of creativity, picking up on different themes explored through research including women and creativity; politics and creativity; and levels and types of creativity, either generally, or within specific subjects such as art education.
Despite the multidimensional nature of creativity, and the complexity of the debate that surrounds it, Claxton and Lucas concluded that creativity comprises a number of observable attributes which could serve as indicators of the presence of creativity in individuals. They argue that these key observable attributes can be contained within 5 ‘habits of mind’ each possessing three ‘sub-habits’. These are:
Habit of Mind Sub-Habits of Mind
1. Inquisitive Wondering and Questioning
Exploring and Investigating
2. Persistent Tolerating uncertainty
Sticking with difficulty
Daring to be different
3. Imaginative Playing with possibilities
 Beattie, D. (2000). Creativity in Art: The feasibility of assessing current conceptions in the school context. Assessment in Education,
4. Disciplined Crafting and Improving
5. Collaborative Cooperating appropriately
Giving and receiving feedback
Sharing the ‘product’
It is also worth noting that the creative ‘habits of mind’ described above, correlate strongly with the core transversal competencies identified by the EU as underpinning successful learning as shown below:
These skills are also highly valued by employers, which can be seen clearly in a recent report by the international consultants McKinseys. Employers were asked which skills they were finding it hard to find in prospective employees and their views are summarised in the chart below: