Solitude: Ingredient for Creativity


In her TED Talk The Power Introverts, Susan Cain states “solitude is a crucial ingredient of creativity.”


This quote hits on two points I believe to be important. First, introversion, and second, creativity, both of which are essential in the classroom and in life. To my disappointment, both of these elements receive very little attention in the classroom and in life. Classrooms are designed to engaging, dynamic, and interactive, often bypassing creative thinking and moments of solitude. In life, many people believe that they are not creative, and that being an extrovert is necessary. I believe that people are equally as introverted as they are extroverted depending on the situation at hand. I also believe that people are creative because creative thought is both rational and emotional depending on the problem that needs to be solved. Susan Cain also states, “it’s not always the biggest talkers who have the best ideas.” To develop ideas, the process should move from generation to a stage of contemplation, the latter not particularly done well in groups. To bring this all together in the classroom, in order to give students room to generate ideas, they need quiet reflection time, in conjunction with idea sharing with others.


This concept is especially important in the classroom because the teacher can have both positive and negative impacts on students. David Kelley illustrates this point in his TED Talk on How to Build Creative Confidence when explaining an example of when his best friend Ben was making a horse out of the clay. A girl in their class told him it was terrible and that it did not look at all similar to a horse. His friend’s reaction was to clump up the clay horse and he threw it back in the bin. He explained to the audience that he never saw his friend do something like that again (2012).

How teachers treat creativity and introversion in the classroom can leave a lasting impression on people that Kelley believes fosters an “opt out” mentality that “moves in and becomes more ingrained, even by the time you get to adult life” (2012). Teachers should not shy away from teaching, and at times, re-teaching creativity, and encouraging more reflective work in the classroom.


Niki Monahan suggests that “the very first class is an excellent time to establish participation norms and to create a classroom climate that supports introverts in their learning” (2013). With this said, I plan to use first day ice breakers that start with a reflective task that asks each student to write their goals for the class on a piece of paper. Then, move to pair sharing where students explain one of their goals and why they have set it. Finally, in larger groups, using these goals to create a set of classroom rules.

I also intend to use some of the strategies listed by Miriam Clifford in her article 30 Things You Can Do To Promote Creativity. Especially strategy 28, which is “Tapping into multiple intelligences.” Her explanation is that because creativity requires different parts of our brain, unrelated items or concepts are often connected to make new ideas emerge (2012). As a reference to use and post in my classroom, here is a multiple intelligences comic designed by Marek Bennet.


Bennet, Marek. Multiple Intelligences in the Classroom. 2011.
Cain, Susan. The Power of Introverts. TED Talk. TED Conferences LCC. February 2012.

Cliffird, Miriam. 30 Things You Can Do To Promote Creativity. Inform Ed. Open Colleges: Sydney Australia. November 26th, 2012

Kelley, David. How to Build your Creative Confidence. TED Talk. TED Conferences LLC. March 2012.

Monahan, Niki. Keeping Introverts in Mind in Your Active Learning Classroom. Faculty Focus: Higher Ed Teaching Strategies: Magna Publications. October 28th, 2013.


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