CULTIVATING CREATIVITY AS A KEY TO DEVELOPING INVENTIVE ATTITUDES OF MIND

I. Robertson

University of Washington (UNITED STATES)
Higher education institutions throughout the world are in a fiercely competitive and high stakes race to promote innovation, invention and entrepreneurship. These efforts are funded by businesses and by grants from foundations and government agencies. Much of this work is based on an unquestioned assumption that the STEM (Science Technology Engineering Math) disciplines are the most direct and effective educational routes to innovative success, despite assertions by others of the value of liberal arts education. This study suggests that there is a 'missing link' between typical higher education training and the goal of inventive attitudes of mind. Through detailed examples of student work, it describes how this missing link may be provided in undergraduate and graduate education in diverse interdisciplinary contexts.

This study proposes that cultivating students' creativity is an essential but overlooked foundation for developing the attitudes of mind that lead not just to innovative and entrepreneurial success but to satisfying careers and lives. The creative attitudes of mind discussed in the paper share many commonalities with traditional liberal arts education but are derived from design studio pedagogy. The paper describes attitudes, or 'frames', of mind that characterize creative individuals and groups and illustrates how these attitudes may be 'cultivated' through creativity exercises developed by the author. These exercises are similar to those developed by others, such as the Hasso Plattner Institute at Stanford University's "d.mindsets", but are more comprehensive and fundamental.

Drawing on the activities, products and reflections of students from the USA, Norway and China to illustrate the paper, these theoretical ideas about how to cultivate creativity become intensely real, tangible and memorable.