Why Creativity Is Not A Skill You Can Teach

Teaching creativity may be a futile or counterproductive pursuit that they engage for ulterior motives

image of an old classroom for article by Larry G. Maguire

Photo by Belinda Fewings on Unsplash

Teaching creativity may be a futile or counterproductive pursuit that they engage for ulterior motives

I read and listen to a lot of material on the question of consciousness, the nature of the self and creative expression. My bookshelf contains well over one hundred books on the matter. My Audible account is packed with audiobooks. I am interested in what gives rise to creativity. You could say my interests lie in the question; what is consciousness? Consciousness and creativity are perhaps the same thing — the same thing insofar as they are ultimately undefinable.

Regardless of their ultimately undefinable nature (in my humble opinion), it doesn’t prevent philosophy, psychology and science trying to figure them out and box them in. But like trying to put a feral cat in a sack, the quest is futile.

However, that apparent fact doesn’t remove the curiosity. In fact, curiosity deepens the further we go down the rabbit hole. The rabbit hole branches off in multiple directions requiring an increasing number of curious minds to help solve the problem. Then, like a fractal array, the first problem then becomes many.

“We have found that where science has progressed the farthest, the mind has but regained from nature that which the mind has put into nature. We have found a strange foot-print on the shores of the unknown. We have devised profound theories, one after another, to account for its origin. At last, we have succeeded in reconstructing the creature that made the foot-print. And Lo! it is our own” — Arthur Eddington, Professor of Astronomy

Creativity is trendy these days with the corporate boys jumping all over the available research in an attempt to teach it to their staff. My cynical mind suggests they do this for one reason and one reason only — to make their workers more productive and increase their abstract representations of wealth. The consequence that you might become a better, well-rounded and skilled human being is one that does not concern them. They want you and your skills for what they can get from them, not to help you develop yourself to a higher or indeed deeper level.

In many ways, they want you and your colleagues to become less — boxed in and dependant. For should the pursuit of your creative self result in an independence of mind, you’ll no longer serve their purpose. You’ll begin to serve your own, and that’s no good to them.

Their quest is abstract and bureaucratic. It exists on a thin surface level mind obsessed myopically with material and egotistical pursuits. Therefore, it is not a quest for the source of creativity, of consciousness and the self. It is an ulterior motivated quest for staus and things.

Creativity is not a skill; it is the apparent result of a state of consciousness, a phenomenon that cannot be understood or known. It comes about of itself as a result of our dedicated but detached state of mind. It happens when, for years, we immerse ourselves in work that engages us without the need for applause, recognition or reward. It happens when we least expect it.

The pursuit of knowledge and creativity is a pursuit of the self, the same self that creates it all.

As Arthur Eddington put it; “We have found that where science has progressed the farthest, the mind has but regained from nature that which the mind has put into nature”.

It seems there is a vacuum, a place from whence we came and where we will return. Life appears to be about attempting to fill that void. The problem for us is that there is no filling it — the pursuit is eternal.

“Creativity requires the courage to let go of certainties.”
― Erich Fromm

Creativity is not a skill to be taught or learned. Creativity is an expression of consciousness in pursuit of itself and can only come about where there are no barriers, or where existing barriers are broken. The alternative is that things stay the same, within the boundaries of current knowledge. Therefore creativity happens only where there is space and freedom for it to do so. It can be nurtured and stimulated, not taught as a bounded subject.

So, let’s give ourselves the space and freedom for creative expression. Take time out, do and experience other things, take a nap. Allow yourself to make something that you don’t know what it is.

This is where the fun is.

Thanks for taking the time to read my stuff. Every morning you’ll find me sharing a new thought on life, art, work, creativity, the self and the nature of reality on The Reflectionist. I also write on The Creative Mind. If you like what I’m creating, join my email list to receive the weekly Sunday Letters

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