It is a new semester at Murdoch University (Perth, Western Australia for friends overseas) and our first workshops in the Creativity and Innovation unit began with a combination of interest, a tad of excitement and … some apprehension? What are we going to be doing? Am I supposed to be creative? How are they going to assess us?
Teaching creativity & innovation can be met with some resistance for a number of reasons. First, by the time people get to university many have grown to strongly believe that they are not creative, that creativity is something that only certain kinds of people have. Second, it takes effort. Creativity and innovation are ways of thinking and observing that give us insights into different ways of experiencing life; when you have developed the habit of seeing life a certain way it takes effort to break that habit. Finally, thinking creatively can make us aware of things/patterns/possibilities we had not previously noticed forcing us to take (or NOT) certain actions that might disrupt our lives, alarm our loved ones or appear irrational to the rest of the world. For these, and perhaps other reasons, people have a tendency to put up barriers when they first start to investigate creativity and innovation. Here is an off the cuff attempt to thwart some of that resistance.
I am not Creative!
Well, actually, you are. The way you managed to pack the boot of your car so that you could fit in the two large eskies, a swag, fishing poles, footy and your Enduro 650B mountain bike into the back of your hatchback and still have room for two passengers is creative. Or the way you replaced eggplant with zucchini, tomato sauce with red pepper sauce and breadcrumbs with ground cornflakes and made your own unique version of eggplant parmigiana, that is creative. As Stanford University professor Tina Seelig points out ‘our brains are built for creative problem solving’. She points to the work of Charles Limb at John Hopkins University who is using science to study the brain and creativity.
Yeah, but he’s working with REALLY creative people, you say. Only some people are really creative, you say. No, everyone is. Some people, it’s true, have developed and continue to develop the creative thinking ‘muscles’ or processes, so that they are often thinking creatively. But we all can learn how to think more creatively.
 The views and opinions are my own (and those I reference) and not those of the University. I do not represent the university or any of its affiliations.
 Seelig, T., 2012, inGenius – a crash course in creativity, HarperOne