The economies of the world are all scrambling around trying to attract the brightest and the best brains in the pursuit of growth.

It's clear that the "Internet of things" and the "gig economy" are driven by creative people continually developing new ways of doing things.

But how do we really view creativity? Is it a thing that can be measured? As parents, what can we do to encourage it?

For me creativity and my view of it, has taken a complete 360 turn.

Growing up, like most people in my generation, I was drilled to pay attention in class and to make sure I passed my English and Maths.

When I dabbled with Art at St Columb’s I struggled but I can say that my Father probably viewed that whole malarkey as a distraction.

Art wasn't learning, it was messing around with paint.

He didn't have to worry as I was encouraged to drop Art by my teacher as I wasn't "creative".

That was my first experience with the word.

Then came the teenage years and music and people writing songs and music.

The Music Collective was born on Foyle Street and again I didn't get it.

Were these guys the creative sorts or slackers? I hedged towards the latter.

Stick to the books and the reliable options for employment.

Aim high and get a Manager’s job in Desmonds or Fruit of the Loom. That's where the big bucks were. Faffing about with a guitar, camera or paintbrush was avoiding the REAL world of work.

Creativity for my parents was for someone else.

The very use of the word quite often was linked to dishonesty or stretching the truth.

If someone fiddled his expenses we would say "that was creative accounting".

If you must lie to your parents to get out for a late night or wanted to embellish your UCCA application for university you would be advised to be "creative".

It was a code word for lying.

Someone who was creative was a “spoofer”.

In my own home my father would have put his head in his hands if any of us had uttered the following two phrases - “I’m a creative person" or "I'm a Liverpool fan". Both would have brought equal levels of scorn.

So nowadays a kid who gets a report home saying he oozes creativity is the golden child.

Parents are proud to announce this talent to friends and family. It's now a badge of honour.

Lacking creativity is now as bad as failing Maths and English.

In a generation, creativity and encouraging it has become a driver in many schools and colleges.

I myself have come full circle. Scepticism for the first 25 years of my life has been replaced by a desire to encourage and nurture it.

I remember 10 years ago just before my creative baptism passing Sandinos and seeing a friend of mine in there reading a newspaper and sipping a cold Guinness.

“What are you up to?,” I said. In my opinion he was skiving work.

His answer was "I'm taking some creative time".

I chuckled and thought less of him until I read six months later his short film had scooped a huge number of awards across Europe.

It proves that the parameters we measure creative people by are not soundly based.

Musicians, artists, designers, actors, digital fabricators, poets, writers, animators all deserve our respect for their art and endeavours. Many new creative job titles are being created every month and we should view their creativity as a gift.

My second question was centred around the measurement of creativity.

Rather than dwell on the level of creativity each person might exhibit I looked to see if any research had been done on how creative people see the world and on what traits creative people exhibited. Basically, creative people exhibit what is known as the "big five".

These five personality traits are openness, extroversion, neuroticism, agreeableness, and conscientiousness and your ability to relish adventure make you more creative.

People who are open to new experiences can take in more visual information and this may explain why they are more creative.

These people also tend to do well when set tasks to come up with new creative ideas.

A professor called Anna Antinori and her colleagues tested the theory that people with a greater degree of openness had better visual awareness.

A study involving 123 university students was carried out. In this binocular rivalry test they were shown a red image with one eye and a green image with the other eye for 2 minutes.

Normally the brain sees one image at a time so most seen it flip from red to green.

However, some seen the two images fused into a patchwork of green and red- a phenomenon known as " mixed percept".

The funny thing was the higher the score the participant obtained for openness the more they experienced the mixed perception.

Antinori added: “Wwhen you present open people with the binocular rivalry dilemma their brains are able to flexibly engage with less conventional solutions. We believe this is the first empirical evidence that they have different visual experiences to the average individual".

Could this explain why Bill Gates saw things different? Would it explain why Steve Jobs saw computers then music and phones in a way no one else could imagine?

It's clear he saw the world differently from the rest of us. This "gift" also has a downside as extremely open people are also more prone to paranoia and delusions.

Niko Tiliopolus from the University of Sydney points out: "At those levels of openness people may actually see reality differently. For example, they may "see" spirits or misinterpret interpersonal or other signals.”

The research also concluded that there were similarities between high levels of openness and the experience of taking magic mushrooms.

Also, previous work had found that psilocybin which is the hallucinogenic compound in magic mushrooms increases a person's openness score in a personality test.

So, there you have it folks some research points to creative people actually seeing the world differently. It also points to possibly a bit more paranoia from the most creative types. Knowing quite a few creative people, I really have to agree.

In terms of encouraging creativity, it's really a case of allowing your child to explore and encourage this in everyday possible.

The days of just sticking your nose in the books to learn are long gone so we have to adapt.

So, the next time you are caught with your face in a pint just remember "your taking some creative space".

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