Serif in Education

Can we help teach children to be more creative?

There seems to be a common misconception amongst people of all ages, that creativity is all about art. Art and design of course are based around creativity. But that doesn’t mean you can’t be creative in other subjects or in other ways.

So is our perception of creativity based around what we learn at school? And do schools do all they can to encourage creativity and allow children access to a creative environment with creative resources?

Ellis Paul Torrance is best known for his research into creativity. He famously produced tests to measure the standard of creativity that have been used for over 50 years and are still used to this day. Developed in 1958, the “evaluation system” is one method of evaluating creativity that has been used to accurately predict children’s creative ability as adults.

The threshold hypothesis model, also developed by Torrance, proposes that there is a positive correlation between low creativity and intelligence scores. So in essence, that an IQ test is not the only way to measure intelligence. The tests involve simple tasks based on fluency, flexibility, originality and elobaration. Although opinions on the model itself are divided, it is still used in many research projects around the world.

According to, after analysing almost 300,000 Torrance creativity scores of children and adults, Kyung Hee Kim from the College of William and Mary discovered whilst creativity scores have been slowly rising since the start, since 1990 the score has consistently inched downwards with a significant decrease, and most worryingly the scores of the younger children, through to sixth grade (age 11/12) is the most serious.

So what is the reason for this decline in creativity? One contributing factor put forward is the amount of time children spend in front of TV and playing video games, rather than spending time being creative. Another factor put forward was the lack of support for creativity in schools.

Author Jonah Lehrer, in his book “Imagine, how creativity works” says that children seem to conclude they are not creative during third, fourth and fifth grade (ages 8 to 10) because largely they become more self-conscious and self-aware, and realise, for example, that their drawing is not quite as pretty as they would like, or their short stories don’t live up to their expectations. He feels parents and teachers should intervene during this crucial window in order to ensure the children’s creativity doesn’t wither.

At school, (let’s take English as an example) if you are writing an essay are you told to write about a certain subject or are you allowed freedom to write about what you feel is important to you? When writing, it is difficult to become motivated about a subject matter if you are not interested in what you are writing about. This may impact on how children express themselves.

Some have said this leads to schools killing children’s creativity. Others believe that children should be made to follow these rules so that they are better equipped in later life for their future careers, as there isn’t always a chance to let your creativity show through in the workplace. But there are ways as a teacher you can integrate creativity into the curriculum by the way you teach.

Serif believes that nurturing creativity is vital to maximise children’s potential. On our dedicated Teacher Resource pages on our website you will find inspiration and fresh new ideas for creative ICT and digital literacy in our resources. With curriculum mapping guides, you can easily add the ideas into your own schemes of work. We update them regularly to support the changing role of ICT in the classroom.

Here are a couple of examples of ways we think schools can help maximise creativity in the classroom in ICT without having to compromise on the standard of learning.

Put more emphasis on project based learning

Through DrawPlus, PhotoPlus and WebPlus students can work through a project including elements such as analysing a client brief, using research methods to ascertain the best way forward (through say storyboards or sketches, layouts etc.). They can use software systems to create images and cut, crop or enhance these images, and then analyse their results via feedback. Project based learning helps students get involved in a variety of mediums and using a variety of tools, ensuring they do not lose interest as easily as non-project related tasks, and ensures continuity between classes.

(See Serif resource R006 “Creating digital images” for more information).

Encourage students to explore on their own with teacher guidance

Encouraging students to work on their own enables them to learn whilst being creative, and through Serif’s “Creating video” resource, you can guide students through reviewing existing video clips, designing their own video clips and creating these clips. These videos can be based on almost anything, and even something as simple as documenting what the student did at the weekend – encouraging them to become creative and take an interest in what they are videoing.

(See Serif resource “Creating video” for more information).

And as always, we would love to see any of the videos or projects your students have created using the Serif Design Suite, so please send them to us at: