Context-specific Creativity

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What is Context-specific Creativity?

We are all creative, however, our creativity is contextual. It exists within a specific context and disappears outside it.


The Definition of Context-specific Creativity

Context-specific Creativity is the ability to arrive at a solution to a specific kind of issue or problem. – SRA

Explanation and Illustration for Context-specific Creativity:

Don’t go looking for a definition of Context-specific Creativity elsewhere, because I just thought up this term. Let me explain. I’ve always believed that each of us is creative within some specific contexts. Elsewhere we are not. Most of our creativity shines through in such specific contexts.  Examples abound:  Some content writers are creative when they write about subjects with a strong aesthetic dimension. For instance, they are able to come up with wonderfully creative ideas when faced with courses on interior design or graphic design. Others, who get the glazed-eye look when they deal with these topics, are extremely creative when it comes to teaching someone Math. They come up with excellent examples and drive home the concept with a natural ease.

I believe it so because creativity is specific to a context and because the contexts continue to change, our ability to be creative also continues to change. An example of a bright steel plant engineer comes to mind. This engineer proposed a very creative solution for reducing the cooling time of the cupola, and received an award for helping his organization cut costs. A decade down the line, the engineer moved into game programming – thus, the context of creativity changed for him. He then could come up with creative solutions to reducing the performance issues in a computer game. At this point in his life, even if he wanted to, he couldn’t be as creative towards solving a foundry related issue or proposing a creative solution for it.

We channel our creativity into different contexts, and these contexts keep changing through out our lives. This obviously indicates that creativity flows and changes form as we move through different scenarios, environments, and challenges in our lives.

How the concept of Context-specific Creativity helps?

Simply put, it tells us that if we learn the details of a new context well, we would become more creative in the new context almost automatically. This concept prevents us from falling into a rut and saying, “This isn’t my domain – I can’t think about all this at all.”

Why should we bother?

Well, because in the fast-changing environment of today, it’s important that we accept change as a constant factor in our lives. We need to understand that the half life of learning is decreasing at an alarming rate – and today, whatever we learn will have a good chance of becoming obsolete in one year. As content writers and instructional designers, we need to adapt; and if we remember that creativity is contextual, we’ll be able to adapt more quickly and easily.

How can we Instructional Designers become Creative in a New Context?

It’s quite easy, actually. Understand the new context and interpret it. Once you’ve learned the new concept, draw upon your existing repository of direct and indirect experiences. See how you can match your experiences with the new concept and with your audience. Tie them all together and you must experience an immediate surge of Context-specific Creativity.