What is creative and how can I be one?

That’s a really difficult question in this global world, is it not? I was browsing through a bookstore yesterday and found quite a number of books on creativity. It’s not only in one bookstore; from one bookstore to another, it’s one topic that crowds the self-enrichment shelf.

And it’s not just exclusively at that. There’s always its variety in the management and leadership sections, hidden ever so subtly in the craft and recipes corners, even popping in now and then in the economy shelves. What does it mean for us? The old, conventional ways are no longer acceptable? What else is new?

So back to the question, what is creative and how can I be creative?

The Oxford Advanced Learner Dictionary defines creative [adj] as “(1) involving the use of skill and the imagination to produce something new […]” (emphasize mine). Hmm, tricky definition, no? The word skill [n] itself means “(1) the ability to do something well,” whereas the word imagination [n] means “(1) the ability to create pictures in your mind […],” and “(3) the ability to have new and exciting ideas.” Well, see if clears up some things, but before rephrasing creative, let’s define new [adj]: “(1) not existing before,” “(5) different from the previous one,” and “(6) already existing but nor seen, experienced, etc. before; not familiar.”

So let’s try and rephrase the definition of creative (and let’s use list this time because I know paragraph hurts everyone’s eyes):

  • it takes effort to do something in a good way
  • it asks someone to realize what’s only in their mind
  • it demands someone to create something that is never there or different, or at least something that others never experienced before

That sounds mouthful, is it not?

In my short year as a full time teacher, I feel rather trampled and everything with all my ideals crushed under the heels of unfamiliar curriculum and school system and queer colleagues. At the same time, I am challenged to keep trying to give my best and find interesting ways to wake my students (if the higher-ups didn’t crush it beforehand, or whenever I don’t lament on teaching English rather than Maths).

And it all departs from imagination (in which I picture myself doing all sort of crazy stuff in the class), before everything gets trimmed down to what is do-able and what’s not, in hope that everyone will experience something different.

Have I gone creative enough? Even if I just redo something I did with a slight change? Even if I just follow the new, sometimes dubious methodology? I’m afraid I don’t have answer to that.

Of course, it doesn’t always work. In fact, most (if not all) of them don’t. At times it discouraged me to the point I want to jump from the window, at other times it left me thoughtful with more questions (most often would be, “Hmm, what should I do to make it work next time?”). And with the wide range of personalities I’m teaching in different class, it’s always a challenge to make out different ways for everyone.

I don’t know; but rather than giving up, I guess I just have to keep up with the imagination and effort to make things work. 🙂