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Can Creativity Be Taught? The Importance of a Creative Education

by Hillary Grigonis
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Creativity isn’t just responsible for crayon drawings hanging on refrigerators and canvases on gallery walls — research suggests that creative individuals tend to earn more money, live happier lives, and generate more new ideas across all industries. Yet that same research suggests that less than half the population thinks they are actually living up to their creative potential. And worse still, many school systems don’t always have the teaching methods or resources to implement solutions for creative education in the classroom.

But can that gap be narrowed with creative education programs, or is all creative thinking innate?


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By definition, creativity is doing something different. Teaching creativity and creative problem solving isn’t like teaching math where one plus one will always equal two. If the students create something identical to what the teacher created, that’s not creativity. But while the latest news in science suggests that creativity comes from our own unique personalities, experiences, and visions, creative education can help turn that spark of an idea into a finished creation.

You are the spark — creative education is the kindling that helps turn that spark into a flame. Here are just a few of the benefits of creative education, from classes to conferences.

Creative education teaches technique.

The artist is responsible for the vision, but creative education gives the artist the techniques to turn that vision into a positive difference. A painter, for example, can learn how working with oil paint is different from working with watercolor. A photographer can learn the technique that creates motion blur in camera or the lighting pattern that creates that halo-like glow.

Without the creative thinking skills, creativity is just an idea firing inside some neurons. Creative education is learning all the chords on the guitar, while creativity is arranging those notes in a new way. With education, the artist has the techniques available to turn that mindset into something real.


Get your creative education on. Take one of our fundamental classes to help you learn the skills to bring creativity to life. For a limited time, shop 12 essential classes for half off! 


Creative education teaches you how to see.

Sight and seeing are two different things. As any optical illusion can attest, not everyone sees the same way. But if someone points out how to look at that illusion, if someone tells you to cover up one eye or look at it upside down or look at a specific color, you can see both pictures inside that illusion. Creative education is the same way. Creative education teaches different ways of seeing, and it’s when your way of seeing doesn’t match the person’s standing next to you that something creative is born.

I’m currently mid-way through Susan Striplings 30 Days of Wedding Photography, and while the main content of the class teaches techniques and business skills, she also teaches photographers how to see the scene. Watching Susan find light in a scene or use reflections to add interest to a boring view helped me look at a scene differently and hone my own vision. Creative education doesn’t eliminate the way you see something as an individual, but it does help you notice things you may not have spotted otherwise. It’s in this way, too, that we can begin to find a new way of solving problems.

I would not have spotted this shot before the class because all I saw was a parking lot and power lines. But by learning how to see the scene, I could see a hill that would allow me to shoot from a low angle to capture nothing but the bride against the sky, hiding the parking lot:

Creative education gives you the tools to innovate.

Creative ideas are unique — but the methods creatives use to generate them are not. Creative education can help teach you what to do when you’re feeling uncreative, whether that’s writer’s block or a blank canvas. A writer that’s been dealing with writer’s block for decades can tell budding novice writers to take a walk when they’re stuck, to take that laptop to a new location or just to walk away from the project and come back later with a fresh mind. Because even the most creative minds will be stuck sometimes, creative education serves as a community for finding and developing the skills to create and pull yourself out of a creative rut.

Creative education introduces efficiency.

If I played around with a flash long enough, I’d probably figure out how to create that lighting effect that’s in the vision I have. But does spending months recreating Rembrandt lighting make the results any better than taking a class about the technique that’s been around since the painter from the 1600s? Learning creative tools and techniques can help you become more efficient at turning the ideas you have into reality. In this way, it can be the best education.

Yes, sometimes creativity means reinventing the wheel, or we’d all still be driving around on wooden wheels. But did the person who invented the rubber tire not know how to make a wooden wheel, or did he just sit down and ask, how can we make this better?

Learning creative tools helps us boost our critical thinking skills and, sometimes, prompts us to question existing techniques to create new ideas.

Creative education shows you what’s already been done.

Ever get excited about a really great “new idea”, only to share that idea and find someone already had that same idea a long time ago? By becoming familiar with a specific discipline, creatives can work as a community in learning environments that can further the art as a whole. When we learn from other creatives, we not only put our own spin on those techniques, but we can take those concepts even further.


Get your creative education on. Take one of our fundamental classes to help you learn the skills to bring creativity to life. For a limited time, shop 12 essential classes for half off! 


By understanding the techniques and tools that are already at our disposal, we can find out what’s missing or what’s not working and invent a new solution rather than reinventing the one that’s already readily available.

Creative disciplines also involve business and other skills.

Creativity as a career is not 100 percent creative. Creative education helps teach how to take that creativity and turn it into a career. Creatives are good at creating — but often aren’t so great at marketing, accounting or writing a business plan. Creative education can fill in those gaps.

Creative education teaches you to spot a good idea.

Creativity doesn’t happen during a scheduled time slot during the day — and our best creative ideas can often come at inconvenient times when we’re not actively decision making. Creative ideas may pop up as soon as your head hits the pillow, while you are in the shower, or while commuting to work. Learning your craft can help you identify what ideas warrant dripping on your idea notebook halfway through shampooing and what ideas need more time to mature.

Creative education is different from any other form of teaching — but as all creatives know, different is a good thing.


Get your creative education on. Take one of our fundamental classes to help you learn the skills to bring creativity to life. For a limited time, shop 12 essential classes for half off! 


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Hillary Grigonis

Hillary K. Grigonis is a web content writer and lifestyle photographer from Michigan. After working as a photojournalist for several years, she made the leap and started her own business and now enjoys sharing tips and tricks with emerging photographers.