Creativity Should Be Taught Like Math or Science

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Around the world, educators are fostering creative thinking with their students. We see this every day across both K-12 and higher education in compelling, engaging ways. I remember a 4th grade reading class that I attended where the teacher read aloud to students while sitting around a “virtual campfire” she’d created with iMovie – the students loved it. At the same time, we hear a lot about a growing emphasis on, “teaching to the test” that can sometimes result in a decreased focus on creativity – we think this is a huge problem for our students and for the global economy. College-educated professionals agree. I wanted to share newly-released results of what more than 1000 college graduates say about the importance of creativity in education.

According to Creativity and Education: Why it Matters, a study* produced by research firm Edelman Berland, 88% of the U.S. professionals surveyed believe that creativity should be built into standard curricula. While 78% say it is important in their career, 32% don’t feel comfortable thinking creatively in their work, and a large majority (78%) wishes they had more creative ability.

Furthermore, 85% percent of respondents agree creative thinking is critical for problem solving in their career, and 68% of respondents believe creativity is a skill that can be learned. Nearly three-quarters (71%) say creative thinking should be “taught as a course – like math or science.”

What this study is telling us is that we need to empower educators and raise the importance of teaching creativity as a critical competency across all disciplines. This will drive the global economy and the career success of the next generation. Now is the time to embrace creativity as a critical skill as opposed to a “nice to have.”

Please take a look at the survey data and share your thoughts with us. Additional information available through:


*About the “Creativity and Education: Why it Matters” Study: The data points referenced above come from a study commissioned by Adobe, produced by research firm Edelman Berland and conducted as an online survey among a nationally representative sample of 1,000 Americans, ages 25+ who are college-educated and full-time salaried employees. Interviewing took place from October 17 – 19, 2012. The margin of error is +/-3.1%.



  1. Lynn

    Does Adobe have a suggested creativity curriculum that could be used with High School students. I teach business/marketing and would love to introduce a creativity unit at the beginning of the trimester. Thanks!

  2. Richard Cole

    It never ceases to amaze me how skeptical many people are over the idea that creativity — more specifically idea generation — can be taught. For more than 30 years, I have benefitted by the clear direction I received from reading “A Technique for Producing Ideas,” a simple 60 page book written around 1960 by former advertising executive James Webb Young. I have used this book in corporate settings (establishing a “Creativity Center” at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan), in 20 years worth of annual presentations in the Michigan Political Leadership Program, and in my teaching at Michigan State University. The most difficult part of the drill is convincing people that great ideas are not shot down from the heavens, but are the product of a simple disciplined approach involving training the mind to capitalize upon that which you already know.

  3. Diana Traylor

    There are teachers who already do recognize the inherent value of creativity. They use it in their teaching, teach it and love their jobs because of it.


    It is, thus far, well proven that the schools and universities simply want us to tow their line to become obedient serfs for the governments that fund them.

  5. Mike

    Richard Cole,
    I am one such skeptic. My problem is that we take kids out of creative situations, put them in a desk, quiet them down, and then later realize we should teach them creativity. These same kids who years ago were imaginig worlds of wonder, super strenghts and flying bananas we now need to give a formula for thinkng creativley. As if we club their feet at the age of four and then later realize we should teach them how to walk.
    A formula for helping people pull the creativity (that is already inside of them) out of people is what you are talking about- which is much different then teaching people how to be creative.

  6. Mara

    Mike, I agree with you completely. Children are already creative, they only need the opportunity to learn how to best use their creativity to express themselves. Most schools are focused on test scores instead of teaching children critical thinking and creativity skills. There are still a few of us that are focused on the task of making sure that children have access to quality art programs. Check out We are working to ensure that innovative companies like Adobe have future employees that can think using both sides of the brain.

  7. Theresa Harris

    I totally agree and the imortance of raising creative innovator is more important than ever. This same mission inspired me to start – We teach children fundamental creative skills through online art lessons. Adobe Creative Suite made it possible to bring our online art classes to kids everywhere!

  8. Eddie

    Read E. Paul Torrance’s work on creativity. His work with Tammy Safter, The Incubation Model, provides an instructional approach his theoretical model of creativity.

Jon Perera

As vice president of product management for the Adobe Document Cloud, Jon Perera leads the company's strategy and roadmap for the PDF portfolio of Adobe – this includes Reader, Acrobat DC, and the SaaS offers across both consumer and enterprise segments. He also leads customer success for the enterprise e-sign services. He previously led the Adobe Education business, the company's largest vertical. Across more than twenty years in the software industry, Perera has held a variety of marketing, technical and field positions. He joined Adobe from Microsoft, where he last held the position of general manager of the company’s Academic Programs group. He also served as general manager of business operations for Microsoft’s international headquarters in Paris, France. He was one of the company’s first product managers on Windows NT, which led to innovations including Active Directory, .NET, and more; and he led the go to market for Microsoft’s middleware strategy across SQL Server, .NET, and Visual Studio. Perera has also served on the board of the Technology Access Foundation, which is working to help children of color in public schools become college-ready for the STEM-related fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. He holds a bachelors degree in Literature from Wesleyan University.

Jon Perera