How to Develop Creative Thinking Skills in Students: Techniques for Teachers


Welcome, dear educators, to a compelling journey into the realm of nurturing creativity in your students. As you embark on this endeavor, remember that creativity is not a mysterious gift that only a few possess. It is a skill that can be developed and honed with the right guidance and techniques. In this article, you will discover effective strategies for not only understanding creative thinking but also fostering a creative environment in your classroom.

You may be wondering why it is essential to focus on creative thinking skills in students. Well, according to Albert Einstein, "Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution." As you can see, nurturing creative thinking in your students is about preparing them for the ever-evolving world, where problem-solving, innovation, and originality are highly prized.

So, get ready to explore techniques that will enable you to inspire and encourage your students to think outside the box, turning their ideas into reality. The journey to unlocking and developing their creative potential begins now!

Understanding Creative Thinking

To develop creative thinking skills in students, it's essential to understand what creative thinking entails. Creative thinking involves generating new ideas, finding innovative solutions to problems, and being able to think outside the box. According to creativity expert Sir Ken Robinson, "Creativity is as important as literacy and numeracy, and we should treat it with the same status."1 .

Creative thinking is not just about artistic expression, but about approaching tasks and challenges in a way that is unique and original. It involves the ability to see things from different perspectives and to make connections between seemingly unrelated concepts. Psychologist J.P. Guilford, known for his research on creativity, stated, "The creative person is both more primitive and more cultivated, more destructive, a lot madder and a lot saner, than the average person."2 .

Understanding that creativity is a multifaceted skill that goes beyond just being artistic is crucial for teachers. It requires a willingness to embrace ambiguity and uncertainty, as well as an openness to experimenting with new ideas and possibilities. As a teacher, you play a vital role in nurturing these qualities in your students and helping them recognize the value of creative thinking in all aspects of their lives.

Fostering a Creative Environment

Creating an environment that nurtures creativity is essential for developing creative thinking skills in students. By fostering a creative environment, you can inspire students to think outside the box and explore new ideas.

Encourage a Positive Atmosphere: Encourage your students to be curious and inquisitive. Let them know that it's okay to take risks and make mistakes. As Albert Einstein once said, "A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new."

Provide Freedom and Flexibility: Give your students the freedom to explore their own interests and ideas. This will help them develop a sense of ownership over their work and feel more motivated to be creative. As Ken Robinson, a renowned educator, said, "Creativity is as important as literacy. We should treat it with the same status."

Promote Collaboration: Create opportunities for your students to work together and learn from each other. Collaboration can lead to new perspectives and ideas. In the words of Steve Jobs, "Great things in business are never done by one person; they're done by a team of people."

Cultivate an Inspirational Space: Create a learning environment that is visually stimulating and encourages creativity. Display artwork, provide access to books and resources, and incorporate elements of nature to inspire creativity. As Sir Ken Robinson noted, "The role of a creative leader is not to have all the ideas; it's to create a culture where everyone can have ideas and feel they're valued."

By fostering a creative environment, you can set the stage for students to develop and enhance their creative thinking skills, ultimately preparing them for success in their academic and professional endeavors.

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Using Open-ended Questions

When looking to develop creative thinking skills in students, using open-ended questions is a powerful technique. Open-ended questions encourage students to think critically, explore different perspectives, and come up with unique solutions. As a teacher, you can use open-ended questions to stimulate creativity and foster independent thinking in your students.

One approach is to use open-ended questions to guide classroom discussions. For example, instead of asking a closed question like "What is the capital of France?", you could ask, "What factors do you think influence a country's choice of capital city?" This type of question encourages students to think beyond the basic facts and engage in deeper analysis.

Another way to incorporate open-ended questions is to use them in problem-solving activities. When presenting a real-world scenario or challenge to your students, encourage them to brainstorm and explore different possibilities. By asking open-ended questions such as "What are some potential solutions to this problem?" or "How might we approach this issue from a different angle?" you can help students develop their creative thinking skills.

According to Sir Ken Robinson, an internationally recognized leader in the development of creativity, "The role of a creative leader is not to have all the ideas; it's to create a culture where everyone can have ideas and feel that they're valued." By using open-ended questions, you can create a classroom culture that values and encourages students' creativity.

So, next time you're planning a lesson or activity, consider how you can incorporate open-ended questions to challenge and inspire your students to think creatively.

Encouraging Diverse Perspectives

To truly enhance creative thinking skills in your students, it is crucial to encourage diverse perspectives. By valuing and incorporating different viewpoints, you are fostering an environment where creativity can thrive.

When discussing a topic or problem in class, make sure to acknowledge and appreciate the diverse backgrounds and experiences of your students. This will not only show them that their perspectives are valued but also help them understand that there are multiple ways to approach a problem.

Encouraging diverse perspectives can lead to unique and groundbreaking solutions. As Steve Jobs once said, "Innovation comes from people meeting up in the hallways or calling each other at 10:30 at night with a new idea." By embracing diverse perspectives, you are opening the door to innovative thinking and problem-solving.

Incorporate group discussions and activities that require students to consider different viewpoints. For example, when exploring a historical event, ask students to imagine the event from the perspectives of different people involved. This not only promotes empathy but also allows students to think creatively about the varying influences on historical events.

Encourage students to seek out and explore different viewpoints on their own. Encourage them to read articles, watch videos, and engage in discussions with people who have differing opinions. This will help them develop open-mindedness and consider multiple perspectives before forming their own conclusions.

By encouraging diverse perspectives, you are nurturing creativity and helping students develop the ability to think outside the box. This skill will serve them not only in the classroom but also in their future careers and personal lives.

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Introducing Brainstorming Sessions

When you want to encourage your students to think creatively, introducing brainstorming sessions can be very effective. During these sessions, students have the opportunity to share their ideas and come up with new and innovative solutions to a given problem.

To start a brainstorming session, you can begin by explaining the concept to the students and setting clear guidelines. Encourage them to think outside the box and not to criticize each other's ideas. As a teacher, you can also participate in the session to show your support and to provide guidance if needed.

In the words of Sir Ken Robinson, a well-known advocate for creativity in education, "Brainstorming is a powerful tool for promoting creative thinking. It allows students to explore different possibilities and come up with unique ideas."

By incorporating brainstorming sessions into your teaching, you are not only fostering creative thinking but also helping students develop their communication and collaboration skills. It creates an environment where every student's opinion is valued, and they feel empowered to share their thoughts.

As you guide your students through the brainstorming process, you are helping them tap into their creativity and discover their unique perspectives. It's essential to remind them that there are no right or wrong answers during a brainstorming session, which can alleviate any pressure they may feel.

Incorporating Hands-on Projects

Engaging students in hands-on projects is a powerful way to develop their creative thinking skills. When students can physically interact with the subject matter, it helps them to think outside the box and come up with unique solutions.

By incorporating hands-on projects in your teaching, you are giving students the opportunity to explore and experiment, which can lead to innovative ideas and creative thinking. According to educational expert Sir Ken Robinson, "Creativity is putting your imagination to work, and it's produced the most extraordinary results in human culture."

When you introduce hands-on projects, you are encouraging students to utilize their imagination and critical thinking skills. This can have a lasting impact on their ability to think creatively in various aspects of their lives. As educator Peter Drucker once said, "The best way to predict the future is to create it."

To incorporate hands-on projects in your teaching, consider activities such as building models, conducting experiments, or creating artistic works related to the subject matter. These projects can help students develop a deeper understanding of the topic while also fostering their creative thinking abilities.

Encouraging students to work collaboratively on hands-on projects can also enhance their creative thinking. Collaboration allows students to bounce ideas off each other and consider different perspectives, ultimately leading to more innovative solutions. As Helen Keller stated, "Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much."

With hands-on projects, students can engage in experiential learning, providing them with a holistic understanding of the subject matter. This approach not only enhances their creative thinking skills but also promotes a deeper connection to the material.

Incorporating hands-on projects in your teaching allows students to approach learning in a dynamic and creative way. This can lead to a more enjoyable and effective learning experience, fostering a lifelong love for creativity and innovation.

Evaluating and Giving Feedback

When evaluating your students' creative thinking skills, it's important to provide constructive feedback that encourages growth. Remember to focus on the process rather than just the end result. This will help your students understand that their efforts and dedication to thinking creatively are valuable.

When giving feedback, it's essential to be specific and avoid generalizations. Use examples and anecdotes to illustrate your points. According to author and educator Carol Dweck, "Praise the process, not the person." This means acknowledging the strategies, effort, and perseverance that students put into their creative thinking, rather than simply praising their intelligence or talent.

In addition to verbal feedback, consider providing written feedback as well. This can give students the opportunity to reflect on your comments and refer back to them as they continue to develop their creative thinking skills. As author Benjamin Hardy puts it, "Feedback is the breakfast of champions."

Remember to create a safe and supportive environment where students feel comfortable receiving feedback. Encourage them to see it as a valuable tool for growth and improvement. According to psychologist and author Brian Tracy, "Constructive feedback is the breakfast of champions. It will change your life."

By providing thoughtful and constructive feedback, you can nurture your students' creative thinking skills and help them become more resilient, persistent, and open-minded individuals.


In conclusion, developing creative thinking skills in students is essential for their future success in a rapidly changing world. By understanding the nature of creative thinking and implementing a variety of techniques to foster it, you can help your students become more innovative and adaptable individuals.

Remember to create a safe and supportive environment that encourages students to explore their ideas freely. As a teacher, your role is to facilitate open-ended discussions and encourage diverse perspectives to promote creative thinking. Don't forget to incorporate hands-on projects and brainstorming sessions to provide students with opportunities to express their creativity and collaborate with their peers.

Lastly, always remember the importance of evaluating students' work and providing constructive feedback. As Albert Einstein once said, "The only source of knowledge is experience." By giving students the chance to learn from their experiences and refine their creative thinking skills, you are preparing them for a successful future.

By following the techniques and tips outlined in this article, you can empower your students to embrace their creativity and think outside the box, setting them up for a lifetime of success. Good luck in your journey to cultivate creative thinking skills in your students!

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1Sir Ken Robinson, "How Schools Kill Creativity", TED Talk (2006)
2J.P. Guilford, The Nature of Human Intelligence (1967)
3Sir Ken Robinson, Out of Our Minds: Learning to be Creative (2011)
4Walter Isaacson, Steve Jobs (2011)
5Ken Robinson, Out of Our Minds: Learning to be Creative (2001)
6Ken Robinson, "The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything" (2009)
7Peter Drucker, "The Essential Drucker: The Best of Sixty Years of Peter Drucker's Essential Writings on Management" (2001)
8Helen Keller, "The Open Door" (1957)
9Carol S. Dweck, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success (2006)
10Benjamin Hardy, Willpower Doesn't Work: Discover the Hidden Keys to Success (2018)
11Brian Tracy, No Excuses!: The Power of Self-Discipline (2010)
12Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, The Talent Delusion: Why Data, Not Intuition, Is the Key to Unlocking Human Potential (2018)