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Is creativity something you’re born with or can it be learned?

After finishing the book ‘Imagine: How creativity works’, by Jonah Lehrer a few weeks ago, I’m now seeing stuff about unleashing your inner creativity everywhere. (Kind of like when you buy a new car and now it seems like everyone is driving the same one!) For example, here’s an article I stumbled upon that offers insight into the essence of creative thinking:

Most of the authors and experts insist that not everyone is doomed: creativity doesn’t necessarily have to be something you’re born with, but rather a skill you can grow and nuture with a few tricks and exercises. There was even an article in my latest copy of Canadian Business urging bosses to give more ‘free time’ to employees and they’ll be far more productive and/or offer up creative solutions to problems.

I can’t help but be torn between two camps on this issue: On the one side, I believe that in essence most people have the ability to be creative – look at how imaginative and inventive kids are. Then they start school and things become regimented, dumped into one of two categories of behaviour: ‘approved’ or ‘not approved’. Logical thinking adult brain starts to kick in and looks for realistic ways to pay the bills, not have one long spring break day after day.

On the other hand, there is something to be said for regimens and organization and rules. If all adults were to work willy-nilly whenever, wherever, I don’t feel very confident about the success of our national or global economy. One needs only to look at countries like Greece and Spain where ‘laissez-faire’ and ‘joie de vivre’ attititudes – more interested in play than in work – has led their countries down the garden path to a very unkempt, weed filled plot.

How many of you think creativity is an innate talent? How many think you can cultivate it? And how many don’t give a bleep?


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