Creativity is the key to mankind’s ability to cope with the future era of artificial intelligence, and will be an important factor in distinguishing humans from robots. With the development of modern society and technology, creativity is becoming more and more popular among parents and educators alike.


People may often think that creativity is just the ability to generate new ideas and create new things. However, is creativity really as simple as we thought? What exactly is creativity? What kind of person can be regarded as creative? What are the lesser known characteristics of creativity? What will children experience during creativity process and activities?

What is “Creativity”?


Within the field of education, although definitions of creativity abound, educators generally agree that creativity is the ability to create ‘something original and effective’ (Hämäläinen & Vähäsantanen, 2011). This means that after the creativity process, the resulting work must not only be original, but also useful. For example, in everyday life, if a work of art wants to be creative, first, it needs to present new artistic elements, then, it is essential to give visitors useful information, such as inspiring them to generate ideas from multiple perspectives (Freedman, 2010).


Who can be regarded as “Creative”?


  1. People who are able to produce new products (Karlins & Schroder, 1967)

Question: In the creativity process, does the output of a new product have to be”entirely new”?

Answer: No! The creation of new works can be an expression of the creative process, but there are also three other ways in which creativity can be manifested.

You can test yourself to see if you are “creative” accordingly:

  • Ability to form associative elements into new combinations (Mednick, 1762)
  • Ability to transform (Jackson & Messick, 1965)
  • Ability to evolve alternate organizations or integrations of diverse perceptions and decisions (Schroder, Driver, Sueufert, 1966)


  1. People who are willing to manipulate the environment

Creativity requires active environmental exploration and self-generated solutions, with an emphasis not on the amount of known information, but on how that information can be used to deal with the unknown (Karlins & Schroder, 1967).

Is creativity just as simple as the above?

The answer is: Of course not!


Creativity has other characteristics as well!


  1. Critical Reflection

The process of creation involves a critical reflection of one’s own creative process, which is just as experts in a particular field would always be critical about their previous works or other boarder social issues (Freedman, 2010). In everyday creation, we would constantly think critically and improv our own work; at the same time, new work in a field is often evaluated, critiqued and improved by other members of the field (Hämäläinen & Vähäsantanen, 2011). Therefore, the process of creation is also a process of critical reflection.


  1. Risk-Taking

The process of creativity is also a process of being bold, innovative, and ready to take risks in one’s thinking (White, 2006). Therefore, Nickerson (1999) argues that timidity and  the lack of confidence does not help the development of creativity (White, 2006). Additionally, risk-taking behaviors in the creativity process helps the child to develop leadership skills because children would present work that people have not seen before, help the audiences understand in unique ways, persuades audiences to think, accepts and takes the advocated new actions (Freedman, 2010).

  1. Sociocultural links

The existence of creativity is inextricably linked to the socio-cultural context in which its application takes place (Freedman, 2010). Just as, Einstein could not have developed the Theory of Relativity if he had not lived in a culture obsessed with space travel; Picasso would have had to understand the art of the time and the violence of wartime if he wanted to paint Guernica (Freedman, 2010). In addition, most of the creation is based on old ideas, subject and images; therefore, the process of creation is also a reinforcement of cultural traditions (Freedman, 2010).


In the process of creativity, what will the children experience?


Creativity: Six-Step Process (Wright, 2010)

  1. Asking questions and solving problems

Take art lesson, as an example, in the process of drawing, children will freely generate different problems and decide how to solve them. When the child finds the problem “how to color a blanket to give it the desired effect,” he can mix and match different colors.


  1. Flexible problem solving

Problems are not solved in a single way, but from multiple perspectives. For example, when a child wants to turn a daytime picture into a nighttime one, he can erase the sun and replace it with the moon, or paint the sky into dark blue.


  1. Thinking and Choosing

Distinguishing which ideas are more worthy of being highlighted and explored. For example, during the drawing process, the child is able to decide which colors, shapes, and lines to use, or where to place the shapes in the picture to better represent his or her ideal picture.

  1. Adding, subtracting, replacing or interchanging existing objects or ideas

For example, when a child sees that a cloud is shaped like a shark, the child can modify the cloud to make it look like a “flying shark”.


  1. Refining, developing and improving existing ideas

For example, when a child wants to improve the drawing of a moving car, he can add a curved path with arrow to indicate the moving direction of the car.


  1. Fluency in expressing thoughts

Expressing a large number of ideas in a short time. For example, if you ask a child “what problems did you encounter while drawing?”, they can tell you about many of the challenges they faced.


There are many misconceptions about creativity that many people may have had for a long time. It is not as simple as “the output of something new” as the general public thinks, or as esoteric as “genius science or inventors”, but really common in our daily lives, learning and play. In the future age of artificial intelligence, creativity will be a key to the work of parents and teachers, but also a challenge for educators.

(Chuying Wu, Siyu Zha)



Freedman, K. (2010). Rethinking creativity: A definition to support contemporary practice. Art Education, 63(2), 8-15.

Hämäläinen, R., & Vähäsantanen, K. (2011). Theoretical and pedagogical perspectives on orchestrating creativity and collaborative learning. Educational Research Review, 6(3), 169-184.

Karlins, M., & Schroder, H. M. (1967). Discovery learning, creativity, and the inductive teaching program. Psychological reports, 20(3), 867-876.

White, J. (2006). Arias of learning: creativity and performativity in Australian teacher education. Cambridge Journal of education, 36(3), 435-453.

Wright, S. (2010). Understanding creativity in early childhood: Meaning-making and children’s drawing: Sage.