Creativity has a complicated reputation. It’s both worshipped and dismissed, depending on whom you talk to.
Some people consider creativity a mystical thing, up there with divine inspiration; when an artist creates, after all, aren’t they visited by the Muse?
Other people, by contrast, consider creativity superfluous, unimportant in the grand scheme of things, and trivial compared to practical skills and pragmatism. Isn’t it foolish to paint when you need to pay the bills? Isn’t it silly to do a Masters in Fine Arts when you could instead do a Masters of Business Administration?
Unfortunately, it is difficult to make a living being creative today, especially if you pursue the arts—literature, fine art, music, theatre…Yet creativity is intertwined with intelligence; highly-creative people typically have an IQ above 120. And creativity can benefit students taking courses in virtually all subjects.
You may not think that studying certain subjects, such as law, requires much creativity, but that is not true. On the contrary, many law professors believe that teaching law students creative skills could save the profession from automation.
This is all to say that yes, it is difficult to make a living in the most creative fields like fine art and literature, yet virtually all fields reward the capacity to be creative. Scientists who are creative come up with novel approaches to common problems. Lawyers who are creative surprise and get a leg up on their opponents in court by thinking outside the box.
Creativity for High School Students
High school students may perform better in their courses when they learn to leverage their creative capacities. This is as true for students who take an in-person course on painting as it is for students who take MHF4U online.
Unfortunately, however, students learn from a young age not to value creativity above rational thinking. In their early years in elementary school, they are encouraged to draw but around the time they reach high school, they are taught that drawing is unimportant compared to researching and doing math equations.
What the traditional secondary school system fails to teach students is that creativity and rationality do not oppose but rather complement each other—in other words, that lateral and linear thinking can be good friends—and that the most valuable skill in difficult times is often lateral thinking.
Encouraging Creativity Among High School Students
Students are more creative when their teachers tap into their creative potential and encourage them to think and work creatively in all courses.
Teachers can do this by inspiring their students to take risks and not penalizing them when their risks don’t pan out so well. They can also do this by giving students direct feedback on their creativity, unpacking myths about creativity, and assigning creative homework that is graded for effort.
The Bottom Line
Encouraging students to be creative not only empowers them to become better students but also makes school more enjoyable and flat-out fun. As Einstein famously said, “Creativity is intelligence having fun.”
So, before you start your next homework assignment, draw or do whatever you need to do to get the creative juices flowing. You may be surprised by how much it helps.