Developing Creativity and Critical Thinking

One of the greatest challenges that teachers face is helping their students to develop creativity and critical thinking. Because of the rigidity of school, many students struggle to think outside of the box. However, when students are given the ability and freedom to be creative and think for themselves, not only do they learn better but the experience is far more positive for them.

To make creating this sort of environment easier, I have collected ten strategies that teachers can employ in their own classrooms to create an environment where students are encouraged to thinking critically and creatively.


1. Model Creativity

  • Your students will be more likely to think creatively naturally if they first see you doing it.

2. Question Assumptions

  • Everyone carries with them assumptions. Learning to evaluate our own assumptions in the search of new ideas is important.

3. Encourage Idea Generation

  • Many ideas is better than few. Often, one idea, even if not perfect, will lead to greater ideas.

4. Allow Time for Creative Thinking

  • Creative Thinking takes time to develop. The students must be given ample time to assess, analyze, and ruminate on a topic.

5. Allow Mistakes

  • Fear of failure can be paralyzing for students. Creating an environment in which mistakes are not condemned is an important step in giving students the freedom to communicate their ideas.


1. Group Work and Class Discussions

  • Students working together fosters the sharing of new ideas and concepts.

2. Use Socratic Questioning

  • Students often need prodding when learning to think critically. Using questions that require reflection or evaluation can help students to think more critically about an idea.

3. Connect Current Events to Classroom Content

  • The application of classroom content is very valuable because it bridges the gap between what is happening at school with what is going on in the "real world".

4. Provide Problem Solving Opportunities

  • Students must put into situations that cannot be solved with simple thinking. By utilizing problem solving activities, a teacher can naturally encourage critical thinking.

5. Implement Scenarios and Case Studies

  • Just as with point #3, providing opportunities for practical application can improve students' understanding of a concept.

Sternberg, R, & Williams, W. M. (2003). Teaching for creativity: Two dozen tips. Retrieved from