Three modes of creativity

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This article is an ontological investigation of the term creativity, to suggest a model that infuses key philosophical and critical perspectives. This article proposes that creativity has three modes of existence or ways of being in the world: the Visceral (embodiments), the Ideational (mind and conceptual), and the Observational (appreciation, critical, and evaluative). We view creativity synergistically as representing both the individual creative experience and output, in conceptual and embodied ways—and also what externally shapes, enhances, and constrains creative experience. Technologies, as tools to think or create with, often mediate the operation of these three modes. We discuss each mode, instantiating it in an educational exemplar, and also engage with issues of power, discourse, and gatekeeping over what is deemed to be creative in education. Our discussion examines the rhetoric around the term, as well as issues of access to technologies that afford creativity. This tri-modal model of creativity offers an interdisciplinary framework to complement existing models for understanding creativity.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Creative Behavior
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2020


  • creativity
  • education
  • embodied
  • ideational mode
  • imagination
  • observational mode
  • risk
  • technology
  • visceral mode

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