Universitas Kristen Indonesia
What do the followings have in common: the novel Laskar Pelangi, the play Romeo and Juliet, the Monas Tower, the hymn Amazing Grace, the movie Superman, the gravity law, smartphones, the painting The Mona Lisa, airplane, the internet, rendang—the flavorful beef and air conditioner? To a certain extent, you guessed that these items are the products of the creative mind, and you are correct! None of them existed until somebody came up with the idea. They are the fruits of people who think something in different or new ways to create or make something more useful and relevant.
Creativity is the heartbeat of human civilization. It is the engine for achieving communal and individual hopes and dreams. It is the machine that makes human civilization advancement possible. Although it is often associated with the arts, it is essentially a vital form of intelligence that drives people in many disciplines to discover something new. Creativity is found in every area of life, from the way you decorate your residence to a new way of understanding how to write effective sentences. Scientists, inventors, leaders, writers, poets, musicians, painters, songwriters, athletes, and humorists use creativity in their endeavors to make their products. Even students use it while learning and mastering new knowledge and skills. Consequently, creativity cannot be defined in a simple statement. It can be defined in intellectual, artistic, social, linguistic, and physical contexts.
Regardless of their complexity, creative endeavors in all fields of life share some common attributes. Based on this, creativity is defined as a process, product, or interaction that produces ideas, thoughts, or new products using creative thinking skills. Creative thinking itself is a skill used to generate new ideas that are new (original), effective, and ethical (Cropley, 2011). The element of originality (novelty) requires that creativity must be in the form of products, actions, or ideas that are different from those that already exist. Effectiveness requires that good creativity must be a product, action, or idea that can be applied and useful, both aesthetically, artistically, spiritually, and materially. The ethical aspect emphasizes that creativity must not be destructive, selfish, criminal, and dangerous.
Creativity happens when someone generates, creates, or discovers new ideas, solutions, and possibilities through one or more of the following ways. First, he connects and combines several old ideas into one or several new ideas. Second, he reduces the elements of old ideas to create a new or more effective ideas. Third, he explores as much as possible the possibilities contained in the concepts that exist in accordance with the current rules. Finally, he significantly changes one or several existing rules to form new concepts.
Human beings are essentially born creative, but some people keep on honing their curious mind propelled to explore and experiment–a mind that is disciplined to think critically and divergently, while the others never develop their curiosity. To be creative, therefore, requires one to develop his curious mind. Having such a mind, one will be able to see what everyone else has seen but thought it in no one else has taught (Einstein).
Learning can actually be an effective way to hone creativity. The elements of novelty, effectiveness, and ethics that constitute creativity make it consistent with learning, especially learning that is based on constructivism. Constructivism views learning as the process of building understanding and knowledge from experience by reflecting on that experience. Thus, learning and creativity are both processes to form something new. Like a creative thinker who produces something new, students who learn by applying constructivism do not passively receive knowledge but create it. Thus they are also creators who actively explore, ask questions, and assess what they already know. In short, learning and creative thinking are two overlapping and mutual processes. The question now is, “While learning, do you hone your creativity while or just receive and memorize information?