The 4C model of creativity developed by James Kaufman and Ron Beghetto in 2009(1) provides a useful framework or cognitive tool within which general concepts of creativity can be located. It helps to explain some of the complexity associated with the phenomenon of creativity. The value in their framework was to extend the ideas of everyday personally meaningful small-c creativity, and Big-C eminent culturally meaningful creativity to include "mini-c"—creativity that is inherent in the process of learning, and "Pro-c" creativity—relating to the creativity of experts working in a professional domain i.e. a domain where specialist knowledge and skill is needed to perform.
This map of creativity as a phenomenon made a lot of sense to me and I used it whenever I was invited to talk about creativity. But two things happened last year that caused me to see more potential in the framework.
In May 2019 while attending the UK Creativity Researchers conference at the University of Central Lancashire I enjoyed a talk given by Thomas Colin, a doctoral researcher at the University of Plymouth. During the talk he showed a representation of a 2x3 grid for understanding creativity with ‘context’ and ‘norm’ as the labels for the two axes of the grid. I assumed his diagram was related to the 4C model of creativity. On the train home from the conference I redrew my 4C framework diagram to incorporate the dimensions of context and norms and shared it with Thomas to find out how I might give him credit for his idea. He subsequently sent me an article which explained the background to his diagram, but he assured me that he himself had not related his matrix to the 4C model, although he could see the value in doing so.
Simultaneously I was facilitating an on-line conversation in the #creativeHE Forum in our ‘Lets Get Creative’ festival. During the conversation I introduced the 4C model of creativity as a tool to help us interpret our own creative involvement in the festival4 In response to my post, one of the participants recommended that I look at Carly Lassig’s PhD dissertation(2). After reading Carly’s work and appreciating the synergies in our ideas, I contacted Carly and she readily agreed to collaborate on an article(3) for the magazine.
Educational commentators like Sir Ken Robinson, say that education kills a young person’s creativity, but another and more positive way of appreciating what education does, is to see it as an environment in which people learn to use their creativity in a way that is consistent with the requirements of the subject and the pedagogical task. This is the third and most important reason for why education should be seen as a significant and distinctive context for creativity. Through education people are introduced to disciplinary cultural ways of thinking and behaving and they begin to appreciate the domain specifics of creativity which they may later pursue in their careers. In education, learners develop the foundational academic knowledge and skills to make use of such knowledge that is essential for creativity in any knowledge work. They also learn what is valued in different subject and problem solving contexts, and in certain pedagogical environments they may also experience the creation of new value. Understanding both of these concepts is essential for the evaluation of creativity in a disciplinary learning environment.
Education is a domain of practice in which those with power and authority - the teachers, can act as agents for learners’ creativity. Through appropriate pedagogical practices teachers as the key influencers in the system, are able to encourage, support and facilitate learners’ creativity and creative development. Alternatively, their pedagogical practices can inhibit learners’ creative development. Creative development takes place alongside the intellectual ‘undergoing’ (academic development) of the learner within the cultural traditions and constraints of specific subjects, disciplines, institutions & systems. In other words, development is ‘pragmatic’ serving the needs and of priorities of education. Unfortunately, in many subjects in secondary and tertiary education, these needs and priorities all too often pay little attention to the creative development of individuals.
Figure 5C contexts and norms framework for creativity incorporating the ed-c domain
If the argument is accepted that the disciplinary foundations of creativity are laid down in secondary and tertiary education then we can also argue that ed-c is the stepping-stone to Pro-c creativity in a way that little-c never can be. Such reasoning allows us to argue that education provides a significant generic context within which creativity is used, developed, recognised and valued and for many people it lays the foundations for future creativity in their chosen professional/work domain. Figure 8 shows how an ed-c contextual domain can be incorporated into the contexts and norms framework and how ed-c provides the foundations for discipline-based Pro-c creativity.
- Kaufman, J and Beghetto R (2009) Beyond Big and Little: The Four C Model of Creativity Review of General Psychology Vol. 13, No. 1, 1–12 1
2. Lasig, C. J. (2012) Perceiving and pursuing novelty : a grounded theory of adolescent creativity. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology. Available at: https://eprints.qut.edu.au/50661/
3 Jackson, N.J. and Lassig C J (2020) Exploring and Extending the 4C Model of Creativity: Recognising the value of an
ed-c contextual- cultural domain Creative Academic Magazine CAM15 https://www.creativeacademic.uk/magazine.html