Creativity and Choice

Today’s blog is based around a recommendation, from my last post, to consider creativity.  Creativity is increasingly important with Pink (2005) indicating that it will be essential for success in the Conceptual Age.

A wonderful post on ‘Playful Learning’ mentions four practices that tend to have a negative impact on the development of creativity.  They are rewards, shadowing, limited choices and over scheduling.  The article is well worth a read (see below). Three of these I agree are very accurate, the other, limited choices, I would modify for increased accuracy or perhaps simply to avoid misunderstanding.

Limited choices are important.  They are important to assist with decision-making.  Research has shown adults, let alone children, have trouble with too many choices.  This is because we easily move into ‘overwhelm’ when given unlimited choice. We need limited choices to enable us to maintain our ability to make effective decisions.   As a consequence it is arguable that children gain from limited choice to support development of appropriate decision-making.   For example a young child who wants to play outside in the sunshine can be give a choice of which sun hat to wear, not whether they get to wear one or not.  The trick is providing choice within an appropriate (age related) range and knowing what your key intention is.  In this case to develop the healthy habit of wear a sun hat.

I suspect however it was not so much decision making that was in the authors thoughts but rather ‘rigorously preplanned activities’, including coloring in books, which prevent exploration and lateral thinking.  As exploration and lateral thinking are important for creativity I totally agree with the sentiment that with set ‘right’ outcomes and processes creativity tends to be damaged.   Thus it is important we balance the freedom that allows creativity to blossom with guidance that assists decision-making.

In the classroom being very clear about what is the session focus or intention is can allow this to be easily achieved.  What is it that needs to be covered?  Is it content, then allow freedom in the method students cover the set content, as well as the exploration of more depth or personalisation with the content.  If you are covering a process allow choice in what they cover when using the process.   For example if I want my students to learning how to research I allow them to look up a topic they are interested in.   Or if I want a presentation on the difference between mitosis and meiosis I allow them to decide how they want to present it.   This way we can provide both coverage of curriculum and development of creativity (which is naturally there).

Pink outlines other ideas for developing creativity.   He states, firstly teach ‘its ok to have fun’.  Promoting fun in class (in way that is productive) allow creativity to be develop by having general key outcome requirements and allow them to develop the product using their own strengths.*   Without a sense of safety it is a major challenge to have fun so it is important to establish a positive safe environments.  Creating the positive and safe learning environment underpins creativity as well as learning outcomes.

Wishing everyone a wonderful festive season

Thanks for this wonderful topic suggestion

I look forward to hear from more of you


*still covering all skills naturally

Paredes, N P P ( 2014) How to kill your child’s creativity Retrieved from

Pink, Daniel (2005) A Whole New Mind Crows Nest: Allen & Unwin

Too many choices: for starting point check out:

Iyengar, S. S. & Kamenica, E. (2007) Choice Overload and Simplicity Seeking. Retrieved from


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