Page 34

2. Judging Value 32.

We described imaginative activity as a generative mode of thought; creativity involves a second and reciprocal mode of thought: an evaluative mode. Originality at some level is essential in all creative work, but it is never enough. Original ideas may be irrelevant to the purpose in hand. They may be bizarre, or faulty. The outcome of imaginative activity can only be called creative if it is of value in relation to the task at hand. ÔValueÕ here is a judgement of some property of the outcome related to the purpose. There are many possible judgements according to the area of activity: effective, useful, enjoyable, satisfying, valid, tenable. The criteria of value vary according to the field of activity in question.


Creative activity involves playing with ideas and trying out possibilities. In any creative process there are likely to be dead-ends: ideas and designs that do not work. There may be many failures and modifications and much refashioning of imaginative activity before the best outcomes, the best ÔfitÕ is produced. A similar process may then take place in terms of the application of a creative outcome. Evaluating which ideas do work and which do not requires judgement and criticism. In this way creative thinking always involves some critical thinking. Understanding this is an important foundation for creative education. There is a distinction, and there may be differences, between the evaluations made by the creator and those made by others. Equally, the value of something may only be recognised over time. We will come back to this later in discussing the links between creative and cultural development.


As I watched my sister from a distance in her own environment, I could tell that her lab processes were not that different to my studio ones. In science at the bench much as the potter at his wheel, or the sculptor at his block of wood there is a process of preparation, some questions posed early on and a distinct feeling of grafting away until a result wins through. There follows a period of stepping back, more questions, what does this result say to me? How can I change the outcome? Is there anything that ÔfailureÕ can teach me? And then back again, to retry or reshape the work in hand. Professor Helen Storey, fashion designer and sister of developmental biologist Dr. Kate Storey.

Critical evaluation involves a shift in the focus of attention and mode of thinking as we attend to what is working or not working. This can happen throughout the process of creativity and not only at the end. It can permeate the process of generating ideas: it can involve standing back in quiet reflection. It can be individual or shared, involve instant judgements or long-term testing. In most creative work there are many shifts between these two modes of thought and focus of attention. The quality of creative achievement is related to both. Helping young people to understand and manage this interaction between generative and evaluative thinking is a pivotal task of creative education.

Creative Education

NACCCE report


ken robinson et al 1999_all our futures  

All Our Futures: Creativity, Culture and Education Report to the Secretary of State for Education and Employment the Secretary of State for...