Why is pure creativity not encouraged?

vhb - Differential and Personality Psychology in the School Context - Demo

The organization of the school process in Germany can already be understood as the first factor that inhibits creativity. A rigid division of the lesson into given 45-minute units, a clear division of subjects and a tight curriculum often offer little scope for developing and unfolding your own ideas and thought processes. The individual teacher has only limited influence on the school system as a whole, but the establishment of project days or interdisciplinary lessons can at least provide a certain remedy.

Furthermore, the work instructions usually used, which specifically require a solution and a certain procedure (“Find the right answer”, “work step by step” etc.), can inhibit the creativity process.

Another important factor that inhibits creativity is evaluation pressure on the part of peers or supervision, as well as an expected evaluation of creativity (Amabile, 1983). Applied to the school context, this means that a critical evaluation of all responses and contributions by other students, but also by the teacher, reduces creative contributions. Furthermore, assuming students that an answer will be marked promptly can stifle creativity. Empirically, the last point in particular has proven to be significant (Amabile, Goldfarb & Brackfield, 1990); the mere presence vs. absence of another person, on the other hand, had no influence.

Another inhibiting factor is the stimulation of extrinsic motivation through external performance incentives. Although such an approach is generally considered to reduce creativity, a distinction must be made whether such a reward is used as a pure reinforcement or whether it provides information about desired, i.e. creative behavior (Eisenberger & Armeli, 1997). In the school context, this means that rewards may be useful in promoting creativity, but must be used with caution. It is not the sheer quantity of suggestions that should be reinforced, but really unusual creative achievements and ideas.

The teacher's attitude towards the subject is also crucial to the creativity shown by students. In teacher surveys it became clear that many non-creative teachers tend to be reluctant to teach creative students, as their numerous questions or unconventional remarks can disrupt the flow of lessons. Creative teachers, on the other hand, seem to appreciate and encourage creative children.

Basically, it has been shown that positive mood can promote cognitive performance and creative processes, as, for example, more creative word associations, greater fluency and more creative ideas result (Rowe, Hirsh & Anderson, 2007). For the school, this means that it is important that students feel comfortable in school, in their class and in class in general. This can be realized through, for example, the teacher's humor, appreciation, interesting lessons, or unexpected small rewards.

The presence of intrinsic motivation is also beneficial for creative processes. The students should therefore enjoy learning and be interested in the subject matter. The teacher should encourage this through interesting lesson design, the use of various forms of teaching and learning or practical reference to the everyday life of the children.

In addition, there are other creativity-promoting conditions in the literature, but not all of them are relevant for schools. For example, the availability of freedom of choice or the use of unexpected reinforcements are important for teaching (Amabile, 1983).

In addition to the general conditions for promoting or inhibiting creativity, the following is a closer look at specific ways in which creativity can be influenced in the school context.