Institute of Education


A magical noun: thinking critically about 'creativity'

12:30 pm to 1:30 pm, 31 January 2018

Lightbulb on blackboard with a speech bubble drawn around

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UCL Knowledge Lab, 23-29 Emerald St, London WC1N 3QS

To think critically about creativity means asking what we talk about when we talk about creativity. This word is a potent signifier but what it signifies is slippery, introducing a problem of meaning rather than a problem of practice.

At its simplest, creativity is a word used to describe certain kinds of activity. But these activities can be very different - a mental activity such as solving a mathematical problem or a physical activity such as making a sculpture, for example - which should make us question the coherence of the single word which accounts for them.

This talk examines some of the dominant versions of creativity - from Ken Robinson's formulation of 'having original ideas that have value', to Csikszentmihalyi's notion of an alchemical phenomenon arising from a confluence of different factors - and puts them to the test in relation to some contemporary examples.

Much research tends to treat creativity as a 'thing' and seeks to identify what 'it' is. It may be more critically rigorous to circumvent questions which seek equations for answers and instead to look at the factors which produce a sense of 'things' and which give them real effects.

About the speaker

Dr Mark Readman is a Principal Academic in Media Education at Bournemouth University. He worked in BBC TV news before returning to education to undertake postgraduate study, and then teaching and examining, contributing to the shaping of Media Studies. He has published on screenwriting, censorship, cultural iconography, the philosophy of media education, representations of teaching and learning, media literacy and, of course, creativity.


This event is open to all and free to attend. Registration is required for those external to UCL; please email Michelle Cannon at m.cannon@ucl.ac.uk.

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