2011. Vol.2, No.3, 149-155
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. DOI:10.4236/ce.2011.23021
Fostering Creativity through Education—A Conceptual
Framework of Creative Pedagogy
Research Centre for Curriculum and Instruction, National Academy for Educational Research,
New Taipei City, Taiwan, China.
Received March 21st, 2011; revised May 10th, 2011; accepted May 24th, 2011.
Capacities and qualities of creativity have been identified by researchers and strategies in fostering children’s
creative thinking skills were proposed to create supportive environments in an educational setting. There is little
consistent rhetoric, however, among these insights and strategies concerning different aspects of fostering crea-
tivity. In light of this, a three-element framework of creative pedagogy is proposed to offer a more holistic view
of enhancing creativity through teaching, to cover the aspect of creative learning which was overlooked in the
past, and to provide a different explanation to some arguments about teaching creativity. This framework is also
a starting point for studies which intend to understand the teachers and pupils’ responses to creative pedagogy,
and to provide implications for applying creative pedagogy in a classroom and in Asian context as well. In the
end, several possible routes are suggested f or future research in creative pedagogy.
Keywords: Creative Pedagogy, Creative Teaching, Teaching for Creativity, Creative Learning
Different Rhetoric of F oster ing Creativity
Although the argument exits for long that whether creativity
can be increased, there seems to be a consensus view within the
realm of education that creativity is amenable to teaching
(Amabile, 1996; Baer & Kaufman, 2006; Craft, 2000; Cropley,
1992; Esquivel, 1995; Fryer, 1996; James, Lederman, & Vagt-
Traore, 2004; Kaufman & Beghetto, 2009; Parnes, 1963; Puc-
cio & Gonzalez, 2004; Runco & Chand, 1995; Torrance, 1963;
Wilson, 2005). The attempt of fostering creativity through train-
ing was given more attention in the mid twentieth century,
when psychometric researchers, such as Guilford, Torrance, put
efforts in extending and measuring individual’s creativity.
Guilford claimed that (1952; Parnes, 1963: pp. 342-343):
“Like most behaviour, creative activity probably represents
to some extent many learned skills. There may be limitations
set on these skills by heredity; but I am convinced that through
learning one can extend the skills within those limitations”.
Certain training programme s designed to hel p stimulate indi-
vidual’s creativity were then proposed, for instance, thinking
tools (e.g. six thinking hats, developed by Edward De Bono
(1987)) and brainstorming technique (developed by Osborn
(Fryer, 1996)) were suggested to help people generate diverse
thoughts and solutions (Sternberg, 2003). CPS (the Osborn
Parnes Creative Problem Solving process) is another model that
has been widely applied and researched (Fryer, 1996). In addi-
tion to pragmatic techniques of creativity training programmes,
cognitive, social psychologists, and educational researchers
have also generated implications for fostering creativity in
school teaching (Amabile, 1996; Esquivel, 1995; Feldman &
The insights and implications in developing creativity through
education can be scrutinized into three aspects. First aspect is
concerning about teaching, including how to provide creative
and innovative practices which stimulates the development of
multiple intelligence (Armstrong, 2000; Chen, 1997; Torrance,
1963; Torrance & Myers, 1970; Woods, 1995), possibility
thinking (Craft, 2000, 2005), and higher-level thinking (Crop-
ley, 1992; Fryer, 1996; Yeh, 2006), or how to involve the op-
portunity of exploring and solving problem (Cropley, 1992;
Fryer, 1996, 2003; Torrance, 1963). The second aspect of the
implications suggests creating an environment1, both external
and social, that is stimulating and supportive to learners’ moti-
vation/enthusiasm (Collins & Amabile, 1999; Hennesay, 1995,
2007; Woods & Jeffrey, 1996) and creative behaviour (Craft,
2001a; Esquivel, 1995; Lucas, 2001; Torrance, 1995). The third
concern of nurturing creativity is about teacher ethos, which
includes maintaining an open attitude towards creative ideas or
behaviours, showing a humanistic pupil control ideology (as
opposed to being authoritarian), being flexible, and valuing
independence thinking (Chen, 2008; Craft, 2001a, 2005, 2007;
Cremin, Barnes, & Scoffham, 2009; Esquivel, 1995; Hennessey,
1995; NACCCE, 1999).
Albeit these insights focus on different dimensions of devel-
oping creativity and the assumptions behind each view are not
opposing and are even consistent, distinctions between peda-
gogical views were formed and varied terms used referring to a
similar conception, due to different research approach. In light
of this situation, a framework of creative pedagogy consisting
of three interrelated elements is theorized with a confluence
approach, in attempt to offer a more holistic view of fostering
1The term for “environment” varies in the literature; other terms include
climate (Craft, 2001a; Rowe & Humphries, 2001; Torrance, 1995), atmos-
here (Esquivel, 1995; Joubert, 2001; Woods & Jeffrey, 1996), conditions
(Rogers, 1954), classroom/school environment (Lucas, 2001), and
culture (Fryer, 1996; Joubert, 2001).
creativity in education.
A Confluenc e Ap proach
Wehner, Csikszentmihalyi, and Magyari-Berck (1991; Stern-
berg & Lubart, 1999) described the situation within creativity
research with the fable of the blind men and the elephant, that
people touch different parts of the huge animal but claim what
they touch and know is the whole picture. As a result of the
fractional findings of different approaches of creativity research,
a confluence approach which integrated multiple dimensions
and factors of creativity, has been developed since the last two
decades of 20th century (Sternberg & Lubart, 1999). Complex
models, for instance, Amabile’s (1996; Collins & Amabile,
1999) three-factor componential model, Gruber and his col-
leagues’ (Gruber & Wallace, 1999) developmental evolving-
systems model, and Csikszentmihalyi’s (1996, 1999) systems
model, were proposed to illustrate the multilevel interactions of
different factors for creativity (Baer & Kaufman, 2006; Lin,
Likewise, confluence approach and complex model can also
be found in researching pedagogical practices. In a review of
modern conceptions of pedagogy since the 1930s, Watkins &
Mortimore (1999: pp. 3-8) suggested four phases of pedagogy
research, in cluding:
a focus on different types of teachers
a focus on the contexts of teaching
a focus on teaching and learner
complex models that offer an integrated conceptualization
Watkins & Mortimore explained that the last phase repre-
sents a more current view of pedagogy, and complex models
are employed to describe relations between the teacher, class-
room context/content, and the view of learning. The model
differentiates itself from the previous phase of pedagogy re-
search which focused on linear cause-effect chains and simpli-
fied prescriptions for action.
Given the background conception and implications of con-
fluence approach in creativity research as well as in pedagogy
research, it is argued in this paper that the framework of crea-
tive pedagogy, a model consisting of three interrelated elements
in nurturing creativity, is able to offer a more holistic view of
fostering creativity through education.
Keen Efforts without Clear Guideline
Since the late 90’s enhancing creativity has become a global-
wide interest reflecting social and economic changes and the
need to raise competitiveness in globalization activities (Choe,
2006; Craft, 2005; Shaheen, 2010). The function of education is
re-conceptualized as building human capital by equipping young-
sters with innovation and creative capacities in addition to
knowledge delivering (Craft, 2005; NACCCE, 1999; Sawyer,
2004; Wilson, 2005). Curriculum reform has been carried out
and creativity has been included in education policy in western
countries such as the US, UK, France, Germany, Sweden and
Australia (Feldman & Benjamin, 2006; Craft, 2005; Shaheen,
2010). Many Asian countries have also responded to this trend.
For instance, educational reform is urged to release children’s
creative potential in China, since the phenomenon of students’
high achievement in math in international tests yet low ranking
in imagination and creativity was noticed (Jun, Wu, & Al-
banese, 2010). In Hong Kong, creativity is recognized as one of
the three generic skills to be developed in education, and sev-
eral general principles for developing creativity are suggested
in curriculum documents (Cheng, 2010). Other places like Ja-
pan, South Korea, Taiwan, and Singapore have also imple-
mented curriculum reforms with an emphasis on creativity de-
velopment (Choe, 2006; Shaheen, 2010) in a top-down mode
(Cheng, 2010; Lin, 2009).
With governmental support, keen efforts were put in these
Asian regions in promoting creativity education. However, in
addition to point out teachers and traditional practice as im-
pediments to enhancing creativity in the classroom (Cheng,
2004; Lee, 2008; Leung, Au, & Leung, 2004; Ng & Smith,
2004; Wu, 2004), there is little discussion in the initiatives on
guidelines of pedagogical strategies to adopt for fostering crea-
tivity (Lin, 2009). On the other hand, there is little response
from school teachers to the urge of enhancing creativity
through education (Cheng, 2004; Wu, 2004). As mentioned
earlier, varied terms and disparities were created due to differ-
ent approaches and foci of creativity research. Therefore a
comprehensive framework is proposed to offer a more consis-
tent rhetoric. While in the East, a framework is suggested to
render a clearer guideline of pedagogy in facilitating learner
creativity, as well as to challenge the perceptions and ways of
teaching/learning taken for granted in many Asian regions
where creativity is often discouraged (Cheng, 2004; Craft, 2005;
Lin, 2009; Ng & Smith, 2004; Rudowicz, 2004; Wu, 2004).
Theoretical Assumptions of the Framework
There are varied explanations and theories of creativity; for
instance, some psychologists believe creativity to arise from
unconscious drives, while some psychological researchers de-
fined creativity as a syndrome or a complex (Runco & Saka-
moto, 1999). Some other researchers deem creativity as think-
ing skills, a product of creative thinking, or personal qualities
(Sternberg, 1999). The varied views and definitions of creativ-
ity imply different research approach to creativity. Then what is
the view of creativity within education? Although mainly
drawing from theories of scholarly field of creativity studies,
such as behaviourist, cognitive, social-psychological, or hu-
manistic approach, the approach to creativity in education, as
Craft (2005) suggests, has its unique concerns, including the
relationship between creativity and knowledge, curriculum, and
appropriate pedagogical strategies to foster creativity in the
classroom. The perceptions of creativity this approach adopts
are hence more relevant to educational values and settings.
Generally there are two premises underpinning the approach of
creativity in education: first is the view that creativity can be
developed (Fryer, 1996; Parnes, 1963; Torrance, 1963; Tor-
rance & Myers, 1970), and second is that all individuals have
the potential to be creative (Craft, 2001a; Esquivel, 1995;
Feldman & Benjamin, 2006; NACCCE, 1999).
Creativity Can Be Developed
The argument over whether creativity is amenable to educa-
tion can be dated back to the nineteen century (Baer & Kauf-
man, 2006) when the studies of human genius and creative
achievement were the main concern. In the early twentieth
Y.-S. LIN 151
century, the perception of the source for creativity has gradually
shifted from inherited genius possessed by the highly talented
individuals, to diverse human abilities. Owing to the attempt of
psychometric researchers in measuring and fostering individu-
als’ thinking abilities since the 50’s, and to the later multidi-
mensional theories of intelligence, more interest was given to
developing creativity in education (Esquivel, 1995). Educa-
tional researchers, for instance, Fryer (1996: p. 5) maintains
that creative skills could be taught through certain strategies:
“Training in creative problem solving can enable people to be
skilled in finding the best solution quickly…”. Esquivel (1995)
also emphasizes the role of educators in enhancing the creative
potential of every student. In contemporary research, creativity
is embraced as a multi-dimensional and developmental con-
struct; it is believed that creativity is a developmental shift and
a life long process (Craft, 2001a; Esquivel, 1995; Feldman,
Everyone Has the Potential to Be Creative
As mentioned, more attention was given after the 50’s to en-
hancing creative development, and since then several waves of
creativity in education occurred (Craft, 2001b; Shaheen, 2010).
In the earlier wave of promoting creativity, child-centred and
innovative pedagogy were called for in the attempt to reform
traditional school practice (Esquivel, 1995). Educators hold the
view that children are naturally creative, open to experience,
and tend to be attracted by novel things, and this natural quality
will diminish unless it is nurtured by favorable environments
created by adults (Esquivel, 1995; Feldman & Benjamin, 2006;
Torrance & Myers, 1970). Humanistic scholars also see crea-
tivity as the natural urge of individuals to develop, extend, ex-
press and activate their capacities (Maslow, 1996; Rogers,
The latest wave in enhancing creativity began in the 90’s due
to the intense social, economic, and technological changes
nowadays(Craft, 2001b; Shaheen, 2010); creativity is reckoned
as a basic capacity for survival as well as for future success
(NACCCE, 1999). Csikszentmihalyi (Jackson et al., 2006) put
it this way to show the altered status of creativity: “In the Ren-
aissance creativity might have been a luxury for the few, but by
now it is a necessity for all”. At this point, the relationship be-
tween creativity and education is more than the previous goal,
to encourage personal development and self-actualization, but
to equip youngsters with the basic capacity for future life. Yet
regardless in the earlier or recent urge for fostering creativity,
the belief behind the efforts that every individual has the poten-
tial to be creative is unchanged.
The Promoted Aspects of Creativity within Education
Psychologists have made a significant distinction between
product-oriented and process-oriented creativity, focusing on
different facets and values of novel invention (James, Leder-
man, & Vagt-Traore, 2004; Smith, 2005). Product creativity
makes the assumption that creativity should be defined as the
production of both novel and appropriate work (Sternberg &
Lubart, 1999). “Novel refers to original work; … appropriate
simply concerns the usefulness of the product towards a certain
need” (James, Lederman, & Vagt-Traore, 2004: p. 2). In con-
trast to the utility and productivity, process-oriented creativity
focuses on the “mental process” involving creative potential to
generate new ideas, solution of problems, and the self-actuali-
zation of individuals (Esquivel, 1995; Fryer, 1996; James, Led-
erman, & Vagt-Traore, 2004).
Other researchers draw a distinction between “big C” and
“little c” creativity (Craft, 2001a; Gardner, 2004) with the for-
mer having wider influence in society and the latter being rele-
vant to everyday creativity (Lin, 2009). Instead of highlighting
remarkable achievements, little c creativity (LCC) focuses on
the agency of ordinary people and recognizes everyone’s po-
tential to be creative in terms of everyday problem-solving. To
illustrate its features, Craft (2000, 2001a) proposed the notion
of “possibility thinking” as the core of LCC, involving nine
qualities2 that manifest the aspiration of asking the question
“what if” when facing blockage. Whether creativity is domain-
specific or transferrable is another debatable issue (Craft,
2001a). Although creativity is often related to arts or poetry for
instance (Robinson, 2001), and some researchers believe crea-
tive expression and outcome requires specific knowledge and
skills (Csikszentmihalyi, 1996; Feldman & Benjamin, 2006;
Kaufman & Beghetto, 2009), the qualities and capacities of
everyday creativity, as Lucas (2001: p. 38) maintains, “can be
demonstrated in any subject at school or in any aspect of life”.
In a recent study, a four c model of creativity (Kaufman &
Beghetto, 2009) is proposed based on the original distinction,
for the reason of more precise judgment and measurement of
creativity. Two other constructs are introduced: professional
and mini-c creativity. Similar to the educational concern of
LCC, mini-c intends to describe the creative insights experi-
enced by the students and to “encompass the creativity inherent
in the learning process” (Kaufman & Beghetto, 2009: p. 3).
Because of its premise and concern, the concept of process
creativity, LCC, and mini-c creativity are found useful in ad-
vocating educational efforts in creativity. It is the developmen-
tal process that is underlined, and therefore what really matters
is the intention and evaluation of the agent, and as a result, the
self-actualization. In recent years, LCC is also regarded as a life
capacity for future success (Craft, 2005). Thus nurturing crea-
tivity through education is to support the individual’s develop-
ment in creative qualities to face everyday problem, to support
their need for self-actualization, as well as enhance their ca-
pacities for future success.
The Framework of Creative Pedagogy
Informed by the assumptions and the aspects of creativity
nurtured within education, a framework of creative pedagogy is
proposed to illustrates the relationship between creativity and
pedagogical practices. Creative pedagogy is put forward to
describe practice that enhances creative development through
three interrelated elements—creative teaching, teaching for
creativity, and creative learning. Rather than a situation in
which teaching and learning are two parallel processes that
rarely meet (see Figure 1), the three interconnected elements
complement and result in each other, rendering it a resonant
process (see Figure 2). A supportive climate for developing
creative abilities and qualities is created through the interaction
2The nine qualities of possibility thinking include self-determination and
direction, innovation, action, development, depth, risk, being imaginative,
posing ques tions, and pla y (Craft, 200 1a, 2001b).
Delive ring knowledge
Learning: listen and accep t
wha t is ta ught
Conventional teaching and learning process (Lin, 2009).
The three elements of creative pedagogy (Lin, 2009).
between inventive and effective teaching (by the creative fa-
cilitator), and creative learning (by the active learner).
Creative Teaching and Teaching for Creativity
A distinction is made in the NACCCE report (1999) between
teaching creatively and teaching for creativity, defining the
former as “using imaginative approaches to make learning more
interesting and effective’” (NACCCE, 1999: p. 89), while re-
lating the latter to the objective of identifying young people’s
creative abilities, as well as encouraging and providing oppor-
tunities for the development of those capacities (Jeffrey & Craft,
2004: p. 81). Albeit having different foci—creative teaching
focuses on teacher practice, whereas teaching for creativity
highlights learner agency (Craft, 2005)—the two practices are
seen interconnected and indispensible in this framework. For
the features of creative teaching, such as imaginative, dynamic,
and innovative approaches (Jeffrey & Craft, 2004), often in-
spire children’s imagination and new ideas and lead directly to
teaching for creativity. On the other hand, the pedagogical
strategies of teaching for creativity that facilitate children’s
agency and engagement, such as strategies of learning to learn,
or to exploring more new possibilities, often seek to be inven-
tive in order to arouse curiosity and learning motivation (Crop-
ley, 1992; Torrance, 1963).
In addition, a supportive ethos for nurturing creativity can be
found in both practices. Through teaching creatively, teachers
encourage learners’ creativity by passing on their enthusiasm,
imagination, and other talents (Lucas, 2001); whilst creating a
learning context for problem solving and appreciating learners’
creative contributions are essential principles of teaching for
creativity (Fryer, 1996). The pedagogical principles of foster
children’s possibility thinking identified by Cremin, Burnard,
and Craft (2006), are useful to describe how teachers create a
supportive environment through effective strategies that priori-
tize children’s autonomy. They maintain that the three princi-
ples, involving standing back, profiling learner agency, and
creating time and space, help to encourage the children’s ques-
tioning and active engagement in learning by passing the deci-
sion making and the responsibility for learning back to the child.
In short, the two practices are interrelated and are salient ele-
ments of building a context for children’s creative development
When considering pedagogy, most research and implications
seem to focus on the teacher, classroom context, or teaching
content, and few include the importance of learning until the
complex model of pedagogy proposed in recent years (Watkins
& Mortimore, 1999). It is suggested in this paper that the ne-
glect of a spontaneous and creative learning and its characteris-
tics, such as autonomy, could result in difficulties in fostering
children’s creativity. Therefore creative learning is considered
a salient feature in the framework of creative pedagogy.
Torrance (1963) contrasted learning creatively with learning
by authority when arguing about giving children a chance to
learn and think creatively. Children learn by authority when
they are told what they should learn and accept the ideas from
the authority (e.g. teachers, books); whereas in the other proc-
ess, children learn by means such as questioning, inquiring,
searching, manipulating, experimenting, and even aimless play.
Children explore out of their curiosity, which is natural to hu-
man beings. Torrance also connected learning and teaching by
suggesting that during the learning process, children’s creative
skills and methods are required; while at the same time the
learning context, which is filled with curious problems to ex-
plore, stimulates spontaneous learning and flexes the capacities
for learning and thinking creatively.
In more recent studies, several features of creative learning
are revealed including playfulness (Kangas, 2010), collabora-
tion (Mardell, Otami, & Turner, 2008), development for
imagination and possibility thinking (Craft, Cremin, Burnard,
& Chappell, 2008; Spendlove & Wyse, 2008), and suppor-
tive/resourceful context (Oral, 2008). These features of creative
learning not only echo the previous argument, but imply the
interplay between creative endeavours of teachers and learners
The Interplay between the Framework Elements
In an article of stressing creative and improvisational teach-
ing, Sawyer (2004) criticizes that contemporary reform efforts
has associated creative teaching with “scripted instruction”,
which emphasizes important skills for teachers yet often denies
teacher creativity. This scripted approach is considered prob-
lematic for it suggests teachers as “solo performers reading
from a script, with the students as the passive, observing audi-
ence” (Sawyer, 2004: p. 13). Thus Sawyer conceives of creative
teaching as improvisational performance, highlighting the in-
Y.-S. LIN 153
teractional, collaborative and emergent nature of classroom
Adding to the view of seeing creative teaching as improvisa-
tional process that allows “collaborative emergence”, it is ar-
gued that the creative endeavors of both teachers and learners in
an effective teaching/learning process are indispensable. In
other words, the three elements of creative pedagogy interplay
and contribute to each other, forming a dialogic and improvisa-
tional process with creative inspiration, supportive teacher
ethos, effective inquiry-based strategies, and learners’ creative
and autonomous engagement.
In short, instead of merely addressing one of the aspects of
teaching practice that fosters creativity, the proposed frame-
work of creative pedagogy embraces three features—creative
teaching, teaching for creativity, and creative learning. It in-
tends to describe the interplay between innovative teaching and
effective strategies which facilitate and are responded by chil-
dren’s creative and active engagement, as well as to encourage
a more comprehensive practice in developing learners’ creativ-
Prospective Research in Creative Pedagogy
As argued, a framework of creative pedagogy is proposed to
connect different foci of the implications for fostering creativity,
and to promote the overlooked learning aspect as well. In addi-
tion, it is introduced to offer a clearer pedagogical guideline to
encourage the educators/practitioners to re-examine educational
views and methods of fostering creativity, especially in an
Asian context. In fact, a study was conducted and in which a
series of drama lessons based on the framework of creative
pedagogy was designed and taught to understand the Taiwanese
teachers and pupils’ responses to a creative pedagogy in drama
(Lin, 2010). The finding shows that the pupils considered the
lessons useful in developing certain creative qualities, such as
imagination, independent thinking, and risk-taking. The par-
ticipants also identified characteristics and strategies used in the
lessons that made the development possible, such as innovation,
playfulness, task-oriented, collaborative learning, and the tea-
cher’s guidance. Although most of the pupils conveyed their
enjoyment of the lessons, tensions arose during the teach-
ing/learning process, for instance, there were different views of
the space and freedom offered, of the playfulness of the learn-
ing, and the strategies and ethos which may result in the teacher
losing authority, to name a few. Based on these findings, more
specific issues in fostering creativity through creative pedagogy
are raised; concerns of re-evaluation of teacher’s role, ways of
learning, and contextualization of creative pedagogy are there-
There are other concerns over creative pedagogy that could
be addressed further in addition to the above study. The sus-
tainability of the impact of a creative pedagogy used, for in-
stance, could be investigated, especially when the pedagogy is
adopted in a context that is less supportive to creative develop-
ment. The perceptions of applying creative pedagogy are
worthwhile to learn from participants with different positions in
the educational system, such as academic researchers, policy
makers, school principals, or parents, in addition to the pupils
and their classroom teachers. It would also be useful to focus on
studying teachers’ responses through using creative pedagogy
in teacher education to nurture their own creativity. In terms of
cultural issue, it would be interesting to learn and compare the
indigenous perceptions and practices of creative teaching in
Asian countries with the creative pedagogy theorized and ap-
plied in Western classrooms, and the possible benefit and
means of balancing between the two sets of values and prac-
This paper starts with expounding the rationale for a concep-
tual framework of creative pedagogy, and examining relevant
theoretical assumptions and promoted aspects of creativity in
education: process and little c creativity (including possibility
thinking and mini-c), which inform the proposed framework.
Three interrelated features of creative pedagogy in terms of
creative teaching, teaching for creativity, and creative learning
are then introduced. The characteristics and principles of, and
close relations between each element are discussed as well.
Finally, several possible directions are suggested for research-
ing further on the conceptual framework of creative pedagogy.
Through the discussions in this paper, it is intended to clarify
the creative abilities and qualities encouraged within educa-
tional field, and to offer a more comprehensive view of the
research implications in fostering creativity, to urge both the
educators and learners to re-examine the educational values and
practices in the schools, and re-positioning the efforts of pro-
moting creative education in the global trend as well as in a
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