Nurturing Creativity

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Nurturing Creativity

Nurturing Creativity

We need space to explore our unique creative capabilities. If structures and organisations are squeezing out creativity, how do we keep valuing creativity in our learners.

“Be creative!”

We can’t prescribe creativity to our learners but rather we can provide a space for creativity to emerge. Most wouldn’t argue of creativity’s value and intrigue in human development, yet are our cultures and systems valuing or squashing creativity?  As Sir Ken Robinson points out in his worthy to watch TED talk (at 6:30),

“We don’t grow into creativity, we grow out of it, or rather, are educated out of it.”Sir Ken Robinson

Do we even realise that we are cutting the wings of creativity off those in our care? That in our well-meaning intentions to help the masses, we may actually be threatening each one’s unique creative expression?

Let’s explore these threats to creativity and some continuums that may help us move towards more nurturing of creativity in our organised settings.

Structure < Complexity > Chaos


The more structure, the more creativity becomes squeezed out and replaced with ‘norms’ and ‘best practice’.

Organisations are being pressured to be exactly that. More organised.  ‘Look’ good with pristine surfaces and best facilities. More lines, patterns and routine. More numbers, more coaching and more control leaves little to the imagination and contribution from the individual. ‘Artificial environments’ are replacing the need to adapt to variabilities of an uncontrollable, organic environment. Isn’t learning the ability to adapt?


The less structured, the more we risk moving into chaos which brings about it’s dangers. When left to their own devices, there may be nothing of value for the learner or worse - creating devastation. This fear of something going wrong permeates organisations leading to eliminating risk and the unknown creativity lives and breathes. How do we encourage risk-taking without danger?


The importance of the leader then becomes providing a safe environment whilst embracing the uncertainty and unknowns where a learner’s creativity can emerge.

“Creativity is seeing what everyone else has seen, and thinking what no one else has thought”Albert Einstein

Wanting to allow for creativity then moves us into the domain of complexity as Dave Snowden introduces in the Cynefin Framework (‘helping leaders determine the prevailing operative context so that they can make appropriate choices.’)

Fear of being wrong < > Safe to fail


Fear of being wrong can inhibit confidence and courage to take risks if we are punished for mistakes.   Referring again to Sir Ken Robinson - ‘If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original.’


If we want to encourage creativity in a competitive context, we’d do well to drop the right or wrong way to do something and open up opportunities to explore varying solutions to a task. Our role then fits as Facilitator collaborating with learners WHAT to come up with as the task or game. The HOW is then up to their creative expression.

“We take responsibility for “WHAT” but the concept of “HOW” the players must themselves fill with life.”Mark O'Sullivan

If there are values and principles that we want to lead with to help in learning WHAT, then we still need considerate delivery and collaboration to still create a safe environment to explore.

Leader-led < > Learner-led

Where is the space for the individual to lead their own learning? The most organic experience being played on the streets or in the backyard, when it comes to organised sport, if it’s being prescribed for them, where’s the chance to create and explore their own ideas?

So how do we give ownership back to the learner?

What does our role become?

‘I never teach my pupils, I only attempt to provide the conditions in which they can learn.’ - Albert Einstein

Let’s look at how we can move towards more Learner-Led expereicnes with

  • Design the GAME

    Using games as a creative stimuli allows for an exploratory experience  because of the complexity of strategies and varying solutions on offer as apposed to repetitive drills. Multi-Sport and designing ‘multi-games’ provides a further diverse stimuli to create new experiences and expressions.

  • Let them PLAY

    Where childhood was designed for play, exploration and self-discovery, it is now lost to the adult world of pushing talent, getting ahead and becoming the best. We recognise  the need for a play-based approach; to see the child as a person first and foremost and give them the right to empowerment, and a playful and engaging environment to grow. The more opportunities we give for learners to express themselves, the more we will see creativity come alive afresh in our organised environments.

  • Watch them LEARN

    What are we doing if we’re not instructing and correcting? We’re observing and facilitating what the individual and group needs are to support their creative expression.

Excerpts from

The GAME PLAY LEARN Introductory E-Booklet



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One Comment on “Nurturing Creativity”

  1. Pingback: The PE Playbook - March 2017 Edition - drowningintheshallow

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