Einstein said: “Imagination is more important than knowledge,” but Einstein wasn’t a cognitive scientist and he was only half right. You can’t be imaginative without knowledge. Einstein knew a lot about physics. He was imaginative and he knew a lot. He was imaginative because he knew a lot. We tend to undervalue knowledge as the engine of creativity, but creative people know a lot about what they are interested in. Ask someone who sews about types of cloth, stitches, patterns; a musician about their instruments, composers and music; an athlete about training, nutrition and events. Knowledge and creativity go hand in hand.
Sir Ken Robinson asked “Do schools kill creativity?” The answer is ‘no’. According to neuroscience, the longer you spend in school, the more creative you become.
I’m going against several common misconceptions about creativity here, but this isn’t my opinion- it’s an argument based on research – for example here. There are misconceptions about creativity that many of us believe, and also truths about creativity that many of us don’t believe.
Many people believe that you get less creative as you get older. It isn’t true. When measured, adults are just as creative as children. Many people believe that the longer you spend in school, the less creative you become, however it has been shown that length of schooling does not have a negative impact on creativity… whatever Sir Ken believes.
On the other hand, there is evidence that creative people need to spend considerable time on accurate, correct, deliberate practice before they can produce anything novel and useful. There is a strong link between knowledge, memory and creativity.
Edison was right when he claimed “genius is 1 percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration.” The perspiration is in the preparation: study hard, practise carefully, learn lots.
Creativity in primary science is a good goal. It encourages us to make sure our pupils know a lot and practise a lot. We need to support them in that.
Some further reading:
(PDF) The Myths of Heaven-Sent Creativity: Toward a Perhaps Less Democratic But More Down-to-Earth Understanding:
Creativity myths: Prevalence and correlates of misconceptions on creativity – ScienceDirect