ENroute Yearbook 2017-18
Helping to Understand Creativity
Ron O’Donnell, School of Arts and Creative Industries, Fellow
A product is creative when it is (a) novel and (b) appropriate.
A novel product is original not predictable. The bigger the concept, and the more
the product stimulates further work and ideas, the more the product is creative.
Sternberg & Lubart, Defying the Crowd
The value of creative thinking (creative process) is
fundamental to all learners and, in photography, it is an
essential feature of the process. It is no longer the case
that photographers just take photographs, they have to
be innovators, understanding the needs of, and how to
progress in, a competitive marketplace. Understanding
creativity is an important tool in formulating creative ideas.
In teaching a Photo Constructed module to second year
undergraduates, creativity is an important concept but
challenging. How do you engage students in this process?
A strategy for understanding this important concept is not to teach it, but to
participate in the module with the students. The unique feature of this concept is for
the lecturer to disseminate the module project, set the parameters and goals, and
also produce an outcome as if the lecturer were a student. This encourages students
to ask in discussion groups “how is your project progressing?”, instigating valuable
debate on various approaches to the creative process, intersecting with academic
writing on the creative process. This debate introduces students to the notion of a
system to navigate the creative process, and research academic papers on creative
As a consequence of this, students have more confidence in their practice and are
less inhibited when working in the studio. For creative students, this is a stimulating
exercise, for student’s first introduction to this form of free creativity it seems an
invaluable lesson in what is possible.