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Lesson Plans

Re: creativity versus imagination

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Diane C. Gregory, Ph.D. (dianegregory)
Sun, 16 Feb 1997 01:14:35 -0600

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>This may be splitting hairs, but how would one describe the difference
>between creativity and imagination? I have experienced a very few students
>who are able to "create" with direction, stimulation or suggestions from me,
>but left on their own appear absolutely unable to spark their own
>imaginations. A blank sheet of paper lies lifeless before them, matching the
>blank expression on their faces! These students have varying levels of
>mental abilities and some learning disabilities. I believe the imagination
>can be affected, but could it even be non-existant in certain situations? Is
>a highly creative individual (i.e. a severely mentally retarded child who
>delights in painting large swatches of color over and over again) considered
>to be also highly imaginative? Is there any documented research that could
>be recommended? I would really appreciate anyone's thoughtful perceptions .
>. . Thanks!

I think a teacher can actually teach others to be more imaginative by
teaching them how to be creative. Therefore, what is needed is instruction
about thinking about ones own thinking and instruction about thinking about
ones own creative thinking, as well. Some people call this Meta-cognition.
I think students who usually can not be imaginative on their own can learn
how to be more imaginative on their own if they were taught how to tap into
their own imaginations. There are skills and techniques that some seem to
know instinctively, whereas some need to be taught or shown. You might try
doing a library search using key words such as creative thinking skills
and intelligence, etc.

There is also a great deal of research on creativity and intelligence. Try
looking up the original research by Torrance and Getzels. If my memory
serves me correctly, the data seem to reveal that there is a relationship
between creativity and intelligence. Usually highly creative people are at
least classified as brilliant (120 IQs--of course, this is the old
definition of IQ). The reverse has not been demonstrated, that is---highly
intelligent people are not necessarily creative. You might also try
looking up the research by Howard Gardner on Multiple
Intelligences--although his ideas have been around quite a while, he offers
a different perspective on intelligence than earlier intelligence and
creativity pioneers such as Torrance, Guilford and Getzels. I also think
he has a book out on creative people, if my memory serves me correctly.
Also, you might look at the research on Gifted and Talented students and
how to teach creative thinking skills. I believe Treffinger has some
noteable research on this subject.

Thanks for a delightful question. I hope my response has not been too
long, professorial and boring. Since I have started using cooperative
learning groups in my classes, I find I have limited opportunities for
pontificating...Thanks for the opportunity.


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