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  • Print publication year: 2016
  • Online publication date: November 2016

7 - Ever-Broadening Conceptions of Creativity in the Classroom



In the time since we wrote the first version of this chapter, conceptions of creativity in the classroom have continued to broaden. These include both our own conceptions and those of others. Whereas it was once safe to say that creativity in the classroom seemed to belong on the endangered species list (next to the Mantled howler monkey), we have seen changes in recent years. Many people now recognize that classroom creativity is much more than a distracting tangent, something to be explored “later,” or even a behavior problem. Indeed, creativity has become a hot topic in education (Beghetto & Kaufman, 2013).

This, of course, does not mean that creativity has become the centerpiece of the everyday curriculum. There are still instances where creativity is squeezed out of the curriculum. Indeed, this can happen anytime schools turn to extreme measures such as scripted or “teacher-proof” curricula (Sawyer, 2004) in pursuit of boosting performance on standardized learning assessments. Although persistent concerns remain, creativity has been recognized as a core 21st Century skill (J. C. Kaufman, 2016). Moreover, there is growing understanding of how creativity can compliment external content standards and enhance academic learning (Beghetto, Kaufman, & Baer, 2014).

Some advocates of creativity, however, have perhaps gone too far in making claims about creativity. Consider, for instance, the claim that “creativity now is as important in education as literacy” (Robinson, 2006). Such claims strike us as rhetorically compelling but problematic in practice. One problem is that they can result in conceptions that separate creativity from academic subject matter and academic skills. Instead of stressing the importance of how teachers might teach literacy more creatively or how teachers can support students’ creative learning of literacy, they effectively split creativity and literacy into two separate, competing, and even interchangeable goals. Imagine a second grade teacher saying, “I'm not going to develop my students’ literacy skills this year. But don't worry, I'll be cultivating their creative imagination instead.” Would you want your child to have this teacher?

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