Be Creative-and-Critical
What, Why, and How
Principles and Strategies
Liberating Creativity
Creativity for Living
Creativity in Education
Research about Creativity
What is critical thinking?
Why teach critical thinking?
How to teach it effectively?
The Ethics of Critical Thinking
Combining Creative and Critical
Multiple Intelligences / Styles
Thinking Skills in Education
Process in Design & Science
Problem Solving in Education
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     Creative Thinking Skills     
for Education and Life

( teaching creativity )


The sections in this page are:


Be Creative-and-Critical

What, Why, and How

Principles & Strategies

Liberating Creativity


Creativity in Life

Creativity in Education


Research about Creativity



Combining Creativity with Critical Thinking


Creative Thinking is extremely useful — and it's fun! — but it always should be combined with Critical Thinking.*  Why?

During productive PROBLEM SOLVING you creatively Generate Ideas and critically Evaluate Ideas.  Usually, creative generation is the most exciting part of creative-and-critical (creatical?) Productive Thinking.  But critical evaluation is more important, because if creative ideas are immediately converted into action (without being wisely evaluated) the result can be unwise action.  By itself, creativity is not sufficient.  But it is fun and useful.  Hopefully this page — with its interesting “ideas about getting ideas” — will inspire some exciting mental adventures and creatively productive ideas.  Enjoy!


* But sometimes you can intentionally try to be “creative without critical” temporarily, by using a thinking strategy of creatively Brainstorming and then critically Evaluating.


WHAT, WHY, and HOW ?

WHAT is Creativity?

"Creative or innovative thinking is the kind of thinking that leads to new insights, novel approaches, fresh perspectives, whole new ways of understanding and conceiving of things.  The products of creative thought include some obvious things like music, poetry, dance, dramatic literature, inventions, and technical innovations.  But there are some not so obvious examples as well, such as ways of putting a question that expand the horizons of possible solutions, or ways of conceiving of relationships that challenge presuppositions and lead one to see the world in imaginative and different ways."  {Peter Facione, Santa Clara University}


WHY should educators help students become more creative?

The International Center for Studies in Creativity asks Why study creativity? and explains the benefits.  And they claim that yes, teaching creativity (i.e. "helping students become more creative") is possible:  "Creativity is an effective resource that resides in all people and within all organizations.  Our more than 30 years of research has conclusively demonstrated that creativity can be nurtured and enhanced through the use of deliberate tools, techniques, and strategies." 

also:  Why Creativity? (by and Why Creativity Now?  A Conversation with Sir Ken Robinson (from ASCD) and Why Creative Education is Important for Kids (from and the economic value of creativity (from


HOW can you help your students become more creative?

To improve creative thinking, a teacher can encourage creativity by students during activities that provide opportunities for them to be creative, while they are learning useful Principles and Strategies:



Principles and Strategies for Increasing Creativity

• Summaries of scientific principles and practical strategies from Tina Seelig (professor at Stanford) are described in outlines by Aimee Groth & Jessica Stillman (who says "Seelig offers simple but powerful ways to increase your creativity by shifting how you approach problems, including just being more observant and asking better questions") and by Tina Seelig in her talk for Google (video) and her book, inGenius: A Crash Course on Creativity.

Creative Confidence - Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All, a book by David Kelley & Tom Kelley (home & about them & excerpts from chapters).  David Kelley (founder of IDEO and creator of has a TED Talk (How to Build Your Creative Confidence) and other videos and other options in his links-page.

Three Basic Principles and more (from Critical Thinking Web);  and Introduction to Creative Thinking (by Robert Harris) is a summary of strategies for understanding and improving creativity.

• Videos:  in YouTube you can search for [creativity in life] and [creative thinking] and [ted creativity] and other terms & combinations.


Craig Rusbult (editor of this links-page) examines 5 Ways to Creatively Generate Ideas — including Guided Generation (when Critical Thinking stimulates-and-guides Creative Thinking) and Free Generation — and describes some of the ways a freely-creative Generation of Ideas can be hindered;  and how, in an effort to liberate creativity by decreasing these hindrances, we can use Strategies for Thinking* to Build a Creative-and-Critical Community, Adjust the Interactions between Creative Thinking & Critical Thinking, and Reduce Restrictive Assumptions.

* Thinking Strategies to regulate your cognition-and-metacognition (by deciding when to avoid metacognition or use it, and how) can help you improve your performing and/or learning (+ enjoying) in many areas of life, and learn more from your experiences.


• strategies for problem-solving creativity (for stimulating-and-using creativity in a process of solving problems) are explained, and illustrated with 20 historical examples, in Creativity, Innovation and Problem Solving

articles about creativity from Harvard Business Review.

Models for the Creative Process by Paul Plsek, is a historical review, from 1908 to 1994, concluding with his DirectedCreativity Cycle that "is a synthesis model of creative thinking that combines the concepts behind the various models proposed over the last 80+ years."

• A wide variety of strategies — 31 tools for creativity — are described by Charles Cave in Creativity Techniques plus "What can I do to increase my creativity?" and a link to plenty of ideas and resources in his Creativity Web: Resources for Creativity and Innovation; and a Resource Center with lots of information in 11 categories, including software, magazines, books, organizations, conferences, and websites.  This website is very thorough, worth exploring, is useful for getting a comprehensive overview of the field.   /   Another website is less comprehensive, but is interesting:  Thoughts on Problem Solving was developed by faculty in the Engineering Dept at the U of Michigan.

Edward de Bono has been influential in the field of creativity, with his Thinking Tools — Lateral Thinking, Six Thinking Hats, Direct Attention Thinking Tools, and more.  On another website, de Bono describes Lateral Thinking and (on a timeline) other ideas & programs. has a creatively organized Periodic Table of Visualization Methods to stimulate creativity, and Stairs to Visual Excellence and in other ways when you click their navigation links.   (hint: to see mouseover-popup “visual representations” on these pages, your browser's Javascript must be enabled)


• People in the community of education (and business,...) should recognize, appreciate, and encourage different styles of creativity.  In a research-based essay (Two Dimensions of Creativity: Level and Style), Gerard Puccio (describing ideas M.J. Kirton, as in Adaptors & Innovators - Why New Initiatives Get Blocked) describes the advantages & disadvantages in two styles of creative people, who function primarily as adaptors (whose focus is improving an existing situation) or innovators (who develop and advocate new solutions).  Puccio says, "Instead of valuing one style, an organization should respect and value the adaptive and innovative styles of creativity.  Individuals within an organization can work more effectively together by capitalizing on each others' strengths, rather than punishing each other because of individual differences.  If an atmosphere of openness and trust prevails in the organization, then the adaptors and innovators will be able to join their creative talents to propel the organization to success. ...  Individuals will manifest their creativity in different ways, and both styles of creativity are valuable."



Strategies to Liberate Creativity

PRODUCTIVE THINKING occurs when you effectively combine Creative Thinking and Critical Thinking with relevant Knowledge-of-Ideas.  When you're trying to "effectively combine" creativity & criticality & knowledge so you can solve a problem, asking “how do they interact?” is a useful question.

Critical Thinking and accurate Ideas-Knowledge should always be mutually supportive, with beneficial interactions, because:  critical evaluation helps you construct accurate ideas;  and the more you truly know (when your ideas are accurate, are true because they correspond to reality) the better you can evaluate.

But the interactions are more complex, with more variation in productivity, when Creative Thinking is combined with Critical Thinking or with Ideas-Knowledge, because...

    these interactions can be beneficial, which occurs when your critical Evaluation (of an Old Idea that's part of your Ideas-Knowledge) stimulates-and-guides your creative Generation (of a New Idea), when you creatively Revise the Old Idea to Invent a New Idea.
    or the interactions can be detrimental in two ways, if Creative Thinking is hindered by its interactions with Ideas-Knowledge or with Critical Thinking, as discussed in the next two sections.


Strategies to Liberate Creativity
by Reducing the Hindering Interactions
between Creative Thinking and Ideas-Knowledge:

Usually, relevant Knowledge-of-Ideas will help you be more creative.  But not always.  Why?  Viewing a situation from new perspectives can increase creativity.  By contrast, your creativity will decrease if your knowledge of “the way things are” becomes a certainty about “the way things must be” and this rigidly restrictive assumption hinders your ability to "view... from new perspectives" and your creative generation of new ideas about “other ways things could be.

These interactions are described in Dimensions for Thinking: a Framework for Curriculum and Instruction (Marzano, et al, 1988):

    Human “theories of the world” are essential to our learning and making sense of the world.  However, there is a curious paradox about schemata.  Just as they are the basis of human perception and understanding, so too are they “blinders” to interpretations that fall outside their scope. ...  Creativity involves the ability to go beyond the schema normally used to approach a problem... and reframe the problem so it might appear in a different light.  Characteristically, the creative person has the ability to look at a problem from one frame of reference or schema and then consciously shift to another frame of reference, giving a completely new perspective.  This process continues until the person has viewed the problem from many different perspectives.

Craig Rusbult describes “combining the best of old & new” and using Strategies for Thinking to Reduce Restrictive Assumptions about "the way things must be."

I.O.U. - Soon, maybe in December 2017, I will read web-pages — found by searching for [creativity ruts] or [creative thinking outside the box] or [assumptions hinder creative thinking], etc — to learn more, and select pages for linking-to in this section. 



Strategies to Liberate Creativity
by Reducing the Hindering Interactions
between Creative Thinking and Critical Thinking:

A blending of creativity and critical thinking is necessary for productive thinking that produces a high-quality solution for a problem.  But creativity can be hindered by its interactions with critical thinking, for reasons that are psychological and/or sociological, affecting individuals and groups.  In an effort to decrease this hindering, one strategy is to temporarily adjust the creative/critical interactions by focusing on creativity for awhile, with a technique of...


Brainstorm-and-Evaluate that occurs in two phases:  During a creative Brainstorming Phase, critical feedback (from self & others) is temporarily reduced, to encourage a confidently free creativity in generating lots of ideas, aiming for innovation.  Later, these ideas are evaluated in a critical Evaluating Phase.

During a Brainstorming Phase, you can relax and be wildly creative because you have the confident assurance of knowing that your innovative ideas won't be “put into action” before they have gone through an Evaluating Phase, so unwise actions can be avoidedThe goal of this strategy is to allow the effective operation of both creativity and criticality, at different times in an overall process of creative-and-critical problem solving.

The Institute of Design at Stanford ( says, "The fundamental principle of ideation [the process of generating ideas] is to be cognizant of when you and your team are generating ideas and when you are evaluating ideas – typically keeping these two tasks separate, and only mixing the two intentionally."  They share a wide variety of attitudes-and-techniques (with brainstorming and much more) for stimulating productive design thinking in their Bootcamp Bootleg

MindTools has a “how to do it” overview of brainstorming plus other Creativity Tools and a wider range of thinking strategies in their Full Toolkit.

The Creative Education Foundation can help you improve your Creative Problem Solving (using the CPS Process) by combining creative divergent thinking (as in brainstorming) with evaluative convergent thinking.  They offer programs & workshops, both in person and online.   {wikipedia}


Evaluations of Brainstorming:  Does it work?  Among experts “the correct answer” is debated, with some saying YES (IF...) and others NO.*  Disagreements occur due to variations in techniques, application-strategies & leadership, situational contexts and goals (what do you want to happen? how do you define success?), and research methods.   /   * This "YES...NO" page – assembled by me, Craig Rusbult – has links to pages by experts (especially Mark McGuinness, Bob Sutton, Jonah Lehrer) who are advocates & opponents, along with my summaries and comments.  Two insightful pages from Mark McGuinness ( are Why Critical Thinking Is Not a Creativity Killer and asking (with pros & cons) Is Brainstorming a Waste of Time?

A Review of Brainstorming Research - Six Critical Issues for Inquiry by Scott Isaksen of the Creative Problem Solving Group.

Resolving the Paradox of Group Creativity by Andre Walton, in Harvard Business Review.

Wikipedia examines research and some "challenges [i.e. hindering factors] to effective group brainstorming."


You can find a wide variety of ideas about creative brainstorming in PAGES (10 tips - 11 Best Ways - 7 Tricks - 17 Methods - 10 Techniques - 5 Weird Techniques - Driving with Brakes On - and many more) and VIDEOS (6 Ways - 3 Techniques - 3 Social Strategies - Done Right - and more when you search YouTube for [creative brainstorming techniques] and [ted brainstorming] and other terms).     { i.o.u. - In late-November 2017, I'll carefully examine these pages/videos and others, trying to find those that are most interesting-and-useful. }


Creativity in Life, for Living

I.O.U. This section is currently being developed.  Soon, by the end of November, it will be much more complete.

Here are some ideas [they're "notes to myself," not intended to be understood by a reader] that will be here soon:

[[ the joy/excitement of CT in life, throughout life {link to page-intro}

[[creativity is broader than just creative thinking {link to Multiple Intelligences, mi.htm};  CT-areas include creativity in arts (music, visual) (+ writing that requires creative thinking) and, in fact, all areas of life -- 8 Types of Creative Intelligence by Robyn McMaster

[[ {link to my "Design Thinking in all areas of life, for almost all we do in life" if we have a broad definition of problem & thus problem solving, @ methods.htm]]

[[ creativity in thinking strategies, for performing and/or learning and/or enjoying in all areas;  improving self or (as teacher/coach) others

[[ liberating self from personal ruts, restrictive assumptions about "how I must be" and how must do / flexibility as important part of creativity -- with CT in idea-generation and also being willing to follow up with action, for creativity-in-living (after wise evaluation, especially for big/important actions)

[[ improvisations (in music {link to my ../teach/music.htm}, dance, drama, comedy, conversation [@ 50-50 part of music.htm, mixing expected for stability and understanding, plus unexpected variety for spice]



Creative Thinking in Education,

Teaching Creativity in Schools:

Plenty of “creativity training” is offered by organizations & companies who are educationally active in the business community, and by businesses for their own people.

There is some activity in mainstream K-12 schools and higher education.  K-12 programs seem to focus on critical thinking more than creative thinking, but some “thinking skills” programs combine critical thinking with creative thinking, and in some the focus is on creativity.

The International Center for Studies in Creativity at Buffalo State University offers a thorough education in creativity, although I'm sure they say “this is just a start, a launching pad for your own explorations.”  You can read students' workprojects and theses (abstract & whole) – and search the Center's Creative Studies Research Guide.

Stanford Institute of Design ( teachesa process of human-centered Design Thinking that is creative-and-critical with empathy.  They are innovative pioneers in education for design thinking, especially in college & grad school, but also for k-12.     { David Kelley }

#DTk12chat is an online community of enthusiastic educators who are excited about Design Thinking for K-12 so they host a weekly twitter chat (W 9-10 ET) and are active informally 24/7.

Creativity, Culture and Education (home  about us  approach  international programs  publications) has a searchable Research Library that includes 15 Reviews of Research Literature.

Adobe describes their research showing why Creativity Should be Taught as a Course.  

Videos:  You can search YouTube for [creative thinking in schools] and [ted creativity in education] and other terms & combinations.

ERIC Digests have excellent overview-summaries about education that stimulates creativity (and curiosity) in classrooms for students (young & gifted in language arts) and adults and you can search for more about creativity and CRITICAL THINKING and other topics.   And ERIC (its FAQ) lets you search for ideas about thinking skills (creativity & creative thinking and critical thinking, decision making,...) and much more, including (by people from ERIC) the Educator's Reference Desk.

I.O.U. - Soon, probably in December 2017, this section will have more information about creativity-stimulating activities & programs, for K-12 and beyond.   {and there will be more in the links-page for TEACHING ACTIVITIES}


Scientific Research about Creativity

• There are research-resources in other parts of this page:  pros & cons of brainstorming & Creativity, Culture and Education & ERIC Digests & 86 years of Models for the Creative Process and searching the Creative Studies Research Guide of the The International Center for Studies in Creativity and reading students' theses;  and research references from


reviews of research help you get a “big picture” overview:

    Creativity in Education by Anna Craft for the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority.
    What the Research Tells Us About Team Creativity and Innovation by Roger Schwarz, in Harvard Business Review.
    A Brief Review of Creativity (by Johanna Dickhut, with comments by two other students at Rochester Institute of Technology).
    Creativity Research in Music Education: A Review, 1922-1962-1979 (by Carol Peterson Richardson & Michael Saffle, 1983) (Google Books).
    Creativity Research in Music Education: A Review, 1980-2005 (by Donald Running, 2008).
    Review of Research on Creativity, 1906-1966 (by Marshall Hahn, for Minnesota Research Coordinating Unit, 1968).
    Creativity - A Selective Review of Research (by James Freeman, in ERIC, 1968).

book reviews:  Cultures of Creativity Research (a book review by Paul Silvia, of Creativity: Understanding Innovation in Problem Solving, Science, Invention, and the Arts by Robert Weisberg;   and a book review (by MaryBeth Zacharias) of Creativity - A New Vocabulary.


Journals about Creativity:  These offer some articles free, and others if you pay or if you have access through a library/institution:

    Creativity Research Journal (aims & scope) has partial free access, including their Top-Cited Articles & The Nature of Creativity and more.
    Thinking Skills and Creativity has some free content when you click "Open Access Articles" (for info, click "Supports Open Access") and free abstracts for all articles, and others for pay or with library/institution access).
    Annual Review of Psychology (abstract free, full text with pay or library/institution access) for Creativity (in 2004) by Mark A. Runco, and Creativity (in 2010) by Beth A. Hennessey & Teresa M. Amabile.
    ... and the Creative Studies Research Guide lets you search for articles in 5 journalsCreativity and Innovation Management - Creativity Research Journal - The Journal of Creative Behavior [the academic journal of Creative Education Foundation] - Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts [abstracts - wikipedia] - Thinking Skills and Creativity.




INCUBATION — using vacations to solve problems

If you work on a problem for awhile but don't solve it, and then stop thinking about it, when you return to the problem you may be able to solve it.



Timing:  A non-working break, between active problem-solving attempts, can be short or long, lasting minutes, hours, days, weeks, or longer.  Using analogy between hatching eggs and ideas, the waiting period between solution attempts is called incubation. 

Activities:  During a break, you can work on another problem, study another subject, do non-thinking activities, lay down and rest, go for a run, wash the dishes, listen to music, talk with a friend, or just relax in isolated silence;  or sleep, and then think about the problem when you awake, before getting involved in other activities.


Preparation and Expectation:

    To hatch ideas, you must give your mind something to work with.  The closer you come to a solution on your first attempt, the more likely it is that you'll succeed on the second attempt or later attempts.   The incubation process is On-Off-On:  you do active thought (with solution as the goal), take a break, then do more active thought.  Don't be lazy (or cowardly) by using incubation as an excuse to procrastinate, to avoid a challenge you should face.  But don't waste time.  If you're making progress, keep going!  If not, decide whether you should persevere now, or if doing something else for awhile is a better use of your time.
    Expect a solution.  When you take a break, tell yourself “The next time I see this problem, I will be able to solve it.”



• a new approach:  If you get stuck in an unproductive rut, breaking loose (and moving onto a better path) may be easier when time has weakened the rut's hold on the way you are thinking.

• an alert mind:  If fatigue has temporarily decreased your mental productivity, a break can restore the fresh thinking and optimistic attitude you need for success.

• new knowledge:  Between attempts, you may learn new information, or discover a key insight, that helps you solve the problem the next time you see it.• subconscious thought:  Even when you are not actively working on a problem, thinking that occurs “under the surface” (and during sleep) may help you find a solution later.

MORE about Incubation — from Edward Glassman and Enhancing Creative Incubation (by Keith Sawyer, for Psychology Today) & Wikipedia



A DISCLAIMER:  The internet offers an abundance of resources, so our main challenge is selectivity, and we have tried to find high-quality pages for you to read.  But the pages above don't necessarily represent views of the American Scientific Affiliation.  As always, we encourage you to use your critical thinking skills to evaluate everything you read.
This website for Whole-Person Education has TWO KINDS OF LINKS:
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The area of THINKING SKILLS has sub-areas for
Thinking Skills in Education and Life: Effective Problem-Solving Methods
Critical Thinking in Education and Life    Creative Thinking in Education and Life

This links-page for Creative Thinking in Education and Life, by Craig Rusbult,
copyright © 2001 by Craig Rusbult, all rights reserved
( last updated/revised on January 19, 2017 )

All links in this page were checked-and-fixed on January 19, 2017.

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