Can kids really be Creative in “Creative Writing”?


Written by: Lana Leas-Roy

Last week while running a course on Creativity at a particular school I was asked by the English teacher – how can I help my students to be more creative in their creative writing abilities? I said to her, “How can your students be creative if you tell them what to write on, what to write with, how long their writing must be, that they must have an intro, body and conclusion, how many adjectives, nouns, quotes etc they must use and what to write about! And then you expect them to be creative!” I offered her a solution, What if the only thing they were given was a topic and then they were allowed to write on whatever medium they wanted (toilet paper, newspaper, wood etc.) and they were allowed to use any medium they wanted to write with, (kokies, paint, chalk etc.), and they weren’t told how they had to write and what parts of English speech they should use ………then she would see Creative Writing.

Yes, I know what you are thinking –  for Matric they get marked on a standard format and if you let them do whatever they want they won’t end up getting the marks they require …….. but then, lets change the name of Creative Writing to just “Writing”. This type of thinking is backed by Sir Ken Robinson who in his Ted Talk acknowledges that we cannot practice both Divergent thinking and Convergent thinking simultaneously. Schools need to give children the opportunity to develop their creativity before confining them to all the restrictions required by the education system.

This too applies in the work environment. We tell our employees what time they must be at work, what time they must work until, where they must sit, in what format they are required to produce the work, how to dress etc. and then employees are put in a boardroom and told to “Think out of the Box” . And most people look at you with blank faces… you know why.

As per the creative writing example for schools, give your employees less constraints. Allow them to practice Convergent Thinking and Divergent Thinking separately and then you will you start to see Creative thinkers. Thinkers who look to destroy the box and not just think out of the box.



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