Confusing Creativity and Imagination…the Difference is Huge

If the name Ken Robinson sounds familiar it may be from his TED talk entitled Changing Education Paradigms (well worth a watch if you haven’t seen it). In Ken Robinson’s book “Out of Our Minds: Learning to be Creative,” Robinson gives his working definition and explanation of creativity and how it stands in contrast to imagination. I want to share a quote from his book that lays this out and the reason for doing so is because we live in a world that values ideas often to the neglect of action. I know I am a process person and I can very easily get caught up in thinking about something and processing it to death but I don’t always act on things the way that I should. What Ken Robinson said about creativity and imagination was paradigm shifting for me. Here is what he wrote,

“What is creativity? Let me build a definition in three steps: The first step is to recognize that being creative involves doing something. People are not creative in the abstract; they are creative in something-in mathematics, in engineering, in writing, in music, in business, in whatever. You cannot be creative unless you were actually doing something. In this respect, creativity is different from imagination.”

In other words, creativity is more than thinking cool thoughts and processing ideas. Creativity requires creating something and that means doing.

Robinson continues,

“Creative processes are rooted in imaginative thought, in envisaging new possibilities. But creativity goes further. Imagination can be an entirely private process of internal consciousness. You might be lying motionless on your bed but in a fever of imagination. Private imaginings may have no impact in the public world at all. Creativity does. It would be odd to describe someone as creative who just lay still an never did anything. Whatever the task, creativity is not just an internal mental process: it involves action. In a sense, it is applied imagination. To call somebody creative suggests they are actively producing something in a deliberate way. A first definition of creativity then is imaginative process with outcomes in the public world.” (Ken Robinson, Out of Our Minds: Learning to be Creative, 115-116).

I think he pretty much nailed it. It inspires me to be more creative rather than just imaginative. How about you?

Changing Educational Paradigms – Ken Robinson

Missy showed me this video yesterday and I thought it was powerful in helping us recognize some of the limitations of how we have educated in the past and how we might improve the way we engage people with information and utilize their creativity to help them grow. While I have just a couple of reservations on his broad brushing of ADD/ADHD he makes some excellent points that can really change the way we think about how we are educating people today. It really fell right in line with some of the thoughts I shared in the last post on raising up people who are able to teach. Do you agree? What impact would this have on Christian education and the methods we use to train people and teach the Bible?

I also noticed that he has a few books on this subject that may be worth looking into:
Out of Our Minds: Learning to Be Creative
The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything