This page supports my contribution to the Luminate 'Unlocking Potential' Conference held in Leeds on July 4th 2022
Additional resources can be found on the Lifewide Education and Creative Academic websites.
Ecology of Creativity: A Tale of Emergence in Practice
What if creativity is not only a quality of an individual’s mind but is the result of an individual’s perceptions and bodily interactions with their environment and the things that matter to them? My proposition is that creativity, like learning and practice are ecological phenomenon1. By this I mean that creativity emerges as people interact in purposeful ways with their environments and the people, contexts and situations in them. This interactional and relational concept of creativity is neatly captured in Carl Rogers’ concept of a creative process and the creative outcome from such a process - 'the emergence in action of a novel relational product growing out of the uniqueness of the individual on the one hand, and the materials, events, people or circumstances of [their] life.'2
What if creativity is not only a concept of originality, but also, and more importantly for education, is a concept of transformation? By this I mean, “creativity is the process through which we take elements of ourselves and the world around us and transform them into something new….. In the process we transform ourselves and the world”3.
The power in these emergent and transformational concepts of creativity is that they connect and relate practice, and the ontological state of being creative, to the outcomes of creativity, in the everyday lives and environments of ordinary people. In my talk I will introduce the idea of ecologies for practice within which learning and creativity emerge.4,5 These ideas help us understand that we are ecological beings/ interbeings enacting life within and with an ecological world of relationships. connectivity and interdependency.
Our creativity is at the core of our generative capacity as an organism. Everything we have achieved as a species, for better or worse, has involved imagination and creativity. Education is the foundation for developing practical understanding of what being creative means in many professional fields. But it is also the foundation for learning how to create a sustainable and regenerative future – the existential challenge and the next step we have to make as a species6. I will argue that the well known 4C model of creativity7, needs to be extended and replaced by a 5C model that recognises and celebrates the essential role of education in both of these contexts.8
Two mega-challenges facing young people today as they prepare for long complex learning lives. They will need their creativity to adapt to and flourish in a world in formation and to mediate its formation along the current unsustainable trajectories we are creating.
Sustaining our future and regenerating the planet poses the greatest risk to humanity and young people are the generation that will use their creativity to enable humanity to transition to a new Ecological Era.
1 Barnett, R. and Jackson. N.J. (Eds) (2020) Ecologies for Learning and Practice: Emerging Ideas, Sightings and Possibilities Routledge
2 Rogers, C.R., (1961) On becoming a person. Boston: Houghton Mifflin
3 Bennick, G. (2009) on creativity and transformation TEDx
4 Jackson N. J. (2016, 2019) Exploring Learning Ecologies Betchworth: Chalk Mountain Available at:
5 Learning Ecologies website https://www.learningecologies.uk/
6 Jackson, N. J. (in press) Steps to an Ecology of Lifelong-Lifewide Learning for Sustainable, Regenerative and Thrivable Futures. In K. Evans, W. O. Lee, J. Markowitsch and M. Zukas (Eds) Third International Handbook of Lifelong Learning Springer.
7 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 Available at: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/228345133_Beyond_Big_and_Little_The_Four_C_M odel_of_Creativity
8 Jackson N.J. & Lassig, C. (2020) Exploring and Extending the 4C Model of Creativity: Recognising the value of an ed-c contextual- cultural domain Creative Academic Magazine #15 Available at: https://www.creativeacademic.uk/magazine.html