IQ & Creativity: 13 Ways to Foster Creativity in the Classroom

By John M. Eger | Posted 9/24/22 | Updated 2/26/23

Over a decade ago, Newsweek among others, expressed concern that there is a "Creativity Crisis" looming in America, perhaps the world. According to the Washington Post, the problem is at least as acute."1

While "It's too early to determine conclusively why U.S. creativity scores are declining" … "the number of hours kids now spend in front of the TV and playing video games rather than engaging in creative activities" maybe a significant factor.2

That probably is not going to change, although the use of video games seems to occupy young people around the globe. Another, however, Time thinks, "is the lack of creativity development in our schools."

First things first. We tend to think because someone tests well on IQ tests that they are also creative. Those looking to measure creativity must realize that intelligence testing may not be an indicator, nor do we need to deploy the same tools.

Dr. K.H. Kim, Professor of Creativity and Innovation at the College of William & Mary has found after numerous Meta-Analytic studies "that IQ and creativity are weakly related at any level, "suggesting the threshold does not exist." Also, IQ data from 108 countries show that high national IQs correlate to high international test scores but not to a high number of innovators."3

Further, she has found "synthesizing empirical studies that were published between 1965 and 2005 regarding the relationship between creativity and intelligence ... that there is a negligible relationship between the two, suggesting that even without high IQ one can be creative as long as she or he has the ability to master knowledge and skills in her or his subject of Curiosity, Preference, or Interest (CPI)."4

What then should we be doing?

Creating an Environment for Creativity to Flourish

The American Psychology Curve, in a lengthy article called Creative Teaching and Teaching Creativity: How to Foster Creativity In The Classroom, offers this advice:

  1. Create a compassionate, accepting environment.
  2. Be present with students' ideas.
  3. Encourage autonomy.
  4. Re-word assignments to promote creative thinking.
  5. Give students direct feedback on their creativity.
  6. Help students know when it's appropriate to be creative.
  7. Use creative instructional strategies, models, and methods.
  8. Channel the creativity impulses in "misbehavior."
  9. Protect and support your students' intrinsic motivation.
  10. Make it clear to students that creativity requires effort.
  11. Explicitly discuss creativity myths and stereotypes with your students.
  12. Experiment with activities where students can practice creative thinking. Teachers: Develop and nurture your own creativity5.
  13. They also suggest teachers ask themselves whether they are creative, and explore ways to be more creative. There are no magic bullets.

We are still seeking answers to those questions — and hopefully getting closer. Paul Torrance, the late University of Georgia professor of educational psychology, came closest to developing tests to measure creativity. Still, many scholars have serious doubts about the Torrance tests or any test of individual creativity for that matter. It may be easier to concentrate on what is being called the "climate for creativity."

Pasi Sahlberg, formerly of the World Bank believes "schools do have a great potential to enhance human ecology by removing barriers and utilizing the potential for more creative learning environments." Those barriers commonly include competition, standardization, and test-based accountability. Sahlberg has written that collaboration, risk-taking, and learning are general conditions of change and that further energy and resources need to be invested to remove the barriers and to make the best out of the available opportunities.6

During the European Year of Creativity and Innovation in 2009, the European Union concluded that creativity can probably be measured only indirectly by looking at various indicators assumed to relate to creativity such as art and music in schools, broadband penetration, number of households with computers and video game consoles, total output of creative products and services, expenditures for art and culture, and other incentives such as tax breaks for artists.

Our federal government has talked about the importance of creativity in our schools to better prepare our kids for the creative age, but few in Washington have actually tried to figure out how to teach creativity or how to measure it.

©2022 John M. Eger. All rights reserved.


  1. Valerie Strauss, Valerie, The Washington Post, December 9, 2019.
  2. Bronson, Po, Merryman, Ashley, The Creativity Crisis, Newsweek, July 10, 2010.
  3. Kim. D.H., Are Smart People Creative?, The Creativity Challenge: How We Can Recapture American Innovation, Society for the Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, & the Arts, September 13, 2017.
  4. Ibid.
  5. Davis, Lauren, Creative Teaching and Teaching Creativity: How To Foster Creativity In The Classroom, Psych Learning Curve, December 17, 2018.
  6. GB Magazine, March, 2022.
  7. Sahlberg, Pasi, We Need More than Just Better Teachers?, Wed 17, 2018.

John M. EgerJohn M. Eger, Professor Emeritus at San Diego State University is an internationally known author and lecturer on the subjects of creativity and innovation, telecommunications and economic development. ...