We’ve all heard the age old argument of Nature Vs Nurture. Does it apply to creativity? Can you learn to be creative? Can we teach such skills?
The nature versus nurture debate is about the relative importance of an individual’s innate qualities as opposed to the individual’s experiences from the environment one is brought up in, in determining individual differences in physical and behavioral traits. So what I have been thinking a lot about recently is, are we born with creative ability or can we be taught?
In recent years institutions have been taking a special interest in schooling individuals in creativity, believing that if these qualities are nurtured from an early age, it is actually possible to teach creativity in schools, and right through to universities. It is also believed that these days, as children are routinely assessed, they are consequently encouraged to conform rather than value thinking differently.
What do you think?
I certainly think that you can learn the fundamentals of anything. You can paint by numbers, you can follow step by step instructions to piece together a set of Lego, and you can learn how to follow a pattern to sew your own clothes. BUT can you develop independant, creative thought?
I guess for me it is kind of the difference between baking and cooking. Both are incredibly valuable, desirable skills, but I remember hearing my lecturer explain the differences between the two to me once upon a time. She told me that baking is a carefully calculated process that results in a chemical reaction; dependent on following exact measurements and quantities in the recipe. How much baking powder, did matter. How long it baked in the oven, did matter. The particular temperature, did matter.
Cooking on the other hand was more about feelings and tastes. Add more of what you like, experiment with flavours. Feel. Taste. Touch.
I have heard people say things like, ‘I have never been a creative person, but I would love to be a florist’ and I wonder what kind of florist they would become? Sure you can give a cook a recipe, and if you follow it carefully, and measure accurately, the result should be consistent each and every time, does the same apply for floristry?
For me, the answer is no. Haven’t you ever asked a friend for a recipe for that dish that you love, only to recreate it, and it fall a little short? Sometimes it just lacks that flavour.
And maybe this is the element that cannot be taught- the x factor if you like- ‘Flavour’ OR ‘FLAIR’.
It is true that we all find inspiration in day to day life, through our colleagues, our friends, our mentors. A conversation about one thing can start a thought process and lead you to another. One comment can spark a thought, and before you know it, you are envisaging something new and exciting to create. At least that is the way it happens with me.
Now that is not to say that there is only one type of creativity either. One person can be creative mathematically yet not manage to put together an outfit that matches. Alternatively a person could put together a home so beautiful it belongs in magazines, but when it comes to creative problem solving comes up blank.
Finding a new florist to join your team is a tough process. Qualified, experienced florists walk in and out of your door and the position is left unfilled. Why? Because the applicant may have made something that follows the elements and principles of design but it still manages to lack some sort of flavour.
What do you think, do we florists have a special skill? Can you see finesse in some florists’ work, that is lacking in others? Do you think people are born with the ability to take things to a new level?