A dog of my own …

At the Coorong

At the Coorong © Belinda Allen

Creativity – the more I read the bigger it gets. I began to think that maybe it would be better to avoid ‘creativity’ as a term altogether, as it seems to mean such different things to different people in different contexts. Now I find that Mark Runco, an eminent psychologist who specialises in creativity studies (he is editor of the Creativity Research Journal and E. Paul Torrance Chair at the Torrance Center, University of Georgia) has been there before me. In his recent review of the research, ‘Creativity’, he says that he too thought that ‘creativity’ was just too ambiguous to be useful. But then he realised that ambiguity is everywhere, not only in creativity studies, but in pretty much all research endeavour. Perhaps, he says, ambiguity is inherent in scientific work, and has advantages in widening the focus of attention or as a catalyst for other work?

In the history of research on creativity there have been a multiplicity of approaches and perspectives, and Runco does a great job of unpacking these. In the past there have been studies focusing on how intelligence and creativity are correlated, and whether creativity is just an aspect of intelligence. This reductionist approach diminishes our understandings of both – just as Gardner has suggested that there are multiple dimensions of intelligence, Runco seems to suggest (as does Sternberg) that there are multiple creativities …

Of course, one of the things I now need to do is to focus in and frame a ‘manageable’ research question. The proliferation of interesting tangents and subtopics that I come across in the literature is one of the problems – any one of these may turn out to be a really productive focus, but I can’t follow them all. Another problem is that just when I think I have pinned down an idea that is compelling, relevant and original, I find that others have been there before me. Like going at dawn to the pristine beach only to find it’s already covered in footprints. Conferences and journals are my beaches, and I find all sorts of people walking there with their dogs named ‘artography’, ‘critical creativity’, ‘creative pedagogy’ and such-like. I so want a dog of my own …

The ideas that have really been making me want to throw a stick relate to integration of creativity into practice at all levels:

  • Creativity as a graduate attribute (or disposition) across disciplines and professions.
  • Teaching as creative practice.
  • Research as creative practice.
  • Curriculum as a way to integrate all of these.

The authors who are really turning me on have such a holistic approach, and their work is framed in critical theory/critical pedagogy. I am enthused by both the personal development and social revolutionary aspects of this approach.

Reading to do: Giroux, McLaren, Pope, Higgs, Titchens et al …