Making Sense of Creativity

Manila Bulletin, March 11, 2007 | Go to article overview

Making Sense of Creativity


Byline: Evelina Maclang-Vicencio, Ph.D. (Ret.) Professor of Curriculum Studies College of Education, University of the Philippines

"ALL educational institutions shall ... encourage critical and creative thinking." So states the 1987 Philippine Constitution. This provision reflects our recognition of the importance of encouraging the development of the two skills and at the same time indicates that our country is in step with global trends. Thus, in the Department of Education's statement of the Philosophy of the 2002 Curriculum, creative and critical thinking are included among eleven core life skills that characterize an empowered Filipino learner. "Sa panahon natin, ito'y mga kakayahan para mabuhay, ganapin ang sariling buhay, at tulungan ang iba na mabuhay." Life skills enable one to face and solve the demands and challenges of everyday living. The life skills are based on the "four pillars of learning" which the UNESCO International Commission on Education in the 21st Century has described as learning to live together, learning to know, learning to do, and learning to be.

The inclusion of creative thinking in the curriculum, aside from being mandated by the Philippine Constitution, is based on the premise that teaching, practice, and encouragement in using creative thinking skills can enhance the degree of creativity manifested by students and can contribute considerably to the acquisition of information and educational skills.

For a bit of history: Creativity started to become the subject of scientific inquiry, research, and writing 57 years ago when J.P. Guilford, in his presidential address to the American Psychological Association, called attention to its neglect. As a result, psychologists and educators started focusing their attention on the subject. As with some other terms in education analyzed by different educators, philosophers, and theoreticians, confusion ensued.

The confusion about creativity mostly arose from the myths surrounding the area - the myths of the 3 M's: mystery, magic, and madness. Some still believe that creativity is so mysterious that it cannot be productively studied; that it is magical and only a few lucky individuals are gifted with it; and that there is a thin line separating creativity from madness. It does not help that madness has also been officially defined as "great folly, enthusiasm, or excitement which can be marked by frenzied behavior," which many of us cannot deny having exhibited at one time or another, for example, after a great accomplishment. It does not help that a great genius, like Van Gogh, was also believed to be mad. It does not help that people who are madly in love think they have fallen under a magic spell whose mystery they cannot fathom, and express this in a burst of creativity.

Be that as it may, the study of creativity generated hundreds of definitions of the concept, some seeming to contradict each other, varying not only in the main concept but also in the meaning of subconcepts and of terminology referring to similar ideas - all adding to the confusion. …

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