Importance of Exploring and Expanding Imagination and Creativity

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Updated: Aug 15, 2023
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Many people, including myself, do not consider themselves as “creative”. Since a very young age, I struggled with the thought of being boring and not as exciting as other children. On top of this, I was always embarrassed to do any type of creative activity in my classes because I knew that I would fail. To me, being creative was being artistic; being able to take something out of nothing and make something great. To have an eye for decorating or creating something like a PowerPoint or pamphlet.

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As sad as it may sound, it was not until this class that I realized that is not necessarily the case.

According to the article “Creativity Young Children’s Creativity: What Can We Learn from Research?”, the “definitions of creativity are not straightforward…” (Sharp 5). That being said, most theorists are in agreement when discussing the elements that comprise creativity: imagination, productivity, originality, problem-solving, and the ability to produce an outcome of value and worth. I soon realized that drama, music, and art are all considered creative! I love to dance; I think it is a beautiful form of expression, and I had a moment of “wow” when it clicked that dance is creative. Nonetheless, explaining to and encouraging children that they are, in fact, creative in their own way is knowledge I will definitely carry with me when I have the privilege of working in the education field.

Though it was hard for me to comprehend the concept of creativity remaining in labeled boxes, it did help me better understand the different categories. I suppose it is just easier for someone to grasp. For example, “How to Develop Student Creativity” states that three different abilities are required to balance and apply creative work. First off is the synthetic ability, which is more well-known and typically what people think of when they hear the word “creativity.” This involves the ability to “generate novel and interesting ideas” (Sternberg & Williams). This is where I would personally take myself out of the box, because I associate that with being artistic and I do not have the ability to automatically make connections between certain ideas.

Next up is the analytic ability, considered a critical thinking ability, through which the individual can analyze and evaluate ideas. Something I found interesting about analytic ability is that it asserts, “everyone, even the most creative person you know, has better and worse ideas” (Sternberg & Williams). Therefore, without a well-developed analytic aspect, a creative thinker will develop just as many bad ideas as good ones. Finally, practical ability involves translating theory and putting it into practice in order to sell others on the importance of their idea. In summary, I didn’t fully understand the information and may have disagreed to some degree regarding the division of creativity into different abilities. However, it explained the various perspectives on the definition of creativity.

There were questions that I personally asked myself, such as, “Well, how does creativity truly begin? Is there a certain time when creativity sparks?” According to an article titled ‘Vygotsky’s Theory of Creative Imagination: A Study of the Influences on Preservice Teacher’s Creative Thinking Capacities,’ it introduced and elaborated on Ellis Paul Torrance, an American psychologist. Torrance suggested that the creative process began with individuals sensing problems, which then led creative thinkers to engage and use specific sets of skills to find possible solutions. Torrance viewed and defined creativity as providing individuals with the ability and curiosity to search for resolutions to situations. These could be through taking estimated guesses, modifying their attempted solutions and discovering the most successful outcome.

It was stated Torrance was “…immensely curious about unleashing creative abilities in people who possessed this potential…” (Worst 27). I understand what Torrance is saying and I do agree with him. However, I also thought about those children who are a bit unsteady or too shy to actually abandon their curiosity. As a child, I was too shy to really attempt to help my group or peers with finding solutions to certain matters. With that said, I believe that teachers should truly excite the children and make them all feel comfortable to express themselves in their own creative ways.

Creativity is such an important part of our lives, whether we recognize it or not, especially when it comes to children. Leonardo da Vinci, an Italian scientist, painter, and inventor, was very curious as a young boy. He did not allow his curiosity to just sit in his mind; he took detailed observations and sketched out drawings and paintings of everything that intrigued him. Our textbook, “The Young Artist as Scientist: What Can Leonardo Teach Us?”, states, “The arts are an effective way to communicate interests, feelings, and ideas to others…”

“Creativity is needed more than ever in our schools,” (Pollman 2). The text delves into the intricacies of children’s ability to concentrate and express their imagination through subjects like Mathematics and Science, as well as through dramatic play, music, and visual arts. It has been stated numerous times that creativity in the 21st century aids not only with critical thinking and problem-solving, but also enhances communication and collaboration; these are, of course, two crucial traits needed in this generation. When implemented, these aspects allow the child to express themselves creatively. Whether it be sensitivity, curiosity, flexibility, creative thinking, or problem-solving, these provide avenues for children to exercise their minds and imagination to generate ideas.

Due to the fact that several components are involved in creativity, I believe that everyone is creative in their own way. This is particularly true if imagination is considered a component; everyone can imagine and think beyond the ordinary. That’s amazing. The article, “Developing Young Children’s Creativity: What Can We Learn from Research?” explains a bit about the distinction of those who would be considered “highly creative”. These are the people whom Howard Earl Gardner, an American developmental psychologist, believed could “make a difference to the world” (Sharp 6).

This article also discusses what parents might reference if asked about their child’s creativity. For instance, some parents’ minds automatically lean toward the artistic aspect, neglecting other areas where a child’s creativity might flourish, like math, science, music, and others. Reading this, I realized that parents should be reminded of what truly defines “creativity” and how, as educators and families, we should inspire children to express their originality. This could potentially foster personal development or even contribute to the betterment of society as a whole.

When it comes to children in particular, it is crucial not to have a little box of what is considered to be creative. Of course, it should also be developmentally appropriate, but children need to have the opportunity and resources to branch out and reach their full creative potential. An article titled “What Does a Theory of Creativity Require?” mentioned that Hans Eysenck, a 20th-century psychologist, believes in creativity being categorized in two very distinct senses. “The first sense is of creativity as a trait – the trait of ‘originality'” (Amabile). Even though it also shares that originality cannot really be defined, it is described as the “production of unusual associations” (Amabile). The second sense is defined as “unique achievement” — the creativity of finished products. Examples of this are shared by Leonardo da Vinci.

Applauding and admiring a child’s creativity and imagination allows them to feel a sense of trust. An article titled “Creating Safe Spaces for Music Learning” discusses how to make children feel comfortable in the setting provided for them, emphasizing the importance of trust and respect, “…by the specific teacher attitudes and behaviors…” (Hendricks). As previously stated, it is crucial for children to feel comfortable in their classroom; otherwise, they may end up like me, allowing years to pass while thinking they are not creative or good enough.

Lev Vygotsky, a Russian psychologist recognized for his sociocultural theory, has made a significant impact when it comes to advocating for and implementing a more realistic approach in children’s literature. In the previous article I mentioned, “Vygotsky’s Theory of Creative Imagination: A Study of the Influences on Preservice Teacher’s Creative Thinking Capacities,” Vygotsky’s theories of play suggested that the goal was, “…to promote adult’s direction of children’s play towards adult-determined developmental goals…” (Worst). This, in a sense, provides children with a formal set of instructions they can translate into creative thinking skills to boost their creative activity. Vygotsky’s work and theory of creative imagination highlight the significant influence that schooling has on children’s creative growth. The more knowledge they accrue, the more their imagination will expand, resulting in highly creative minds.

The text touched on teachers engaging with children and encouraging them to push themselves creatively, while also making it fun. Vygotsky, similar to Jean Piaget, viewed learning as a “mental functioning that had to precede the development of certain structures in the brain” (Worst 24). Children’s interactions with one another and the outside world would aid the development of cognitive structures, with many of these interactions occurring through play. One thing that set Vygotsky apart was that he took the individual’s personal background into consideration, applying it to their intellectual development. This identified him as a sociocultural theorist. We have all heard the saying “children learn best through play,” and this was the underlying concept of Vygotsky’s viewpoint on creative growth: “All imagination begins with a child’s pretend play through interactions with an adult or more capable peer” (Worst 24). The understanding was that a child’s interactions through play and other individuals stimulated specific cognitive structures within the brain. This mirrors Vygotsky’s belief that pretend play should be a significant part of early childhood development, as it fosters creativity.

When children interact with adults in pretend play, they are able to use elements like metaphors, symbols, visual analogies, and much more than they may not necessarily obtain when playing with their peers of the same age. This isn’t to suggest that children won’t learn from each other, it’s merely pointing out that when adults encourage children and interact with them, the children can incorporate new ideas and apply them. Vygotsky had a concept called “inner speech,” through which he believed the growth of a child’s imagination is rooted in the early interactions that children have with their surroundings. In line with this, he also asserted that “…learning was fully dependent on children acquiring signs through instruction and knowledge from adults or more capable peers” (Worst 25).

I could not agree more, and I believe those interactions help aid children and individuals as a whole, to become better problem solvers through experiences, inner speech, thoughts of action, and knowledge they have picked up from those relationships. One thing that I noticed with the various theories I read about was that they all had some type of agreement that the growth of intellect is thoroughly connected and integrated with the physiological development of the brain.

Nonetheless, ensuring that schools provide developmentally appropriate materials for children to explore and expand their imagination and creativity is crucial for child development. It allows them to express themselves in a way they may not be able to verbally. Through music, dance, drawing, drama, etc., they are putting their creativity to use. That is being creative. Just because my peers were able to draw their families or make an awesome flying machine in class does not mean that I was not creative. I was just creative in a different way, a way that was not always encouraged to be expressed in my classroom.

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Importance Of Exploring And Expanding Imagination And Creativity. (2022, Aug 19). Retrieved from