Creative Lifelong Education System to enhance perception of living time in Human Life

This blog is about my latest presentation at the University of Malta on how creativity can influence the perception of the human mind and how creativity in education can enhance the perception of time we are living in. This could also help the Universities to stand out and find new potential in the troubled futures.

To understand this lets see what is Creativity?

Most contemporary definitions of creativity tend to focus on originality and usefulness. Amabile (1987) defines creativity as “a novel and appropriate solution [product or response] to an open-ended task” (p. 227). Csikszentmihalyi and Wolfe (2005) view creativity as “an idea or product that is original, valued, and implemented” (p. 81). Prabhu, Sutton and Sauser (2008) offer a similar definition: “the generation of novel, original, and unique ideas concerning procedures and processes that can used at work and are appropriate and significant to the problem or opportunity presented” (p. 54). Torrance (1970) defines creativity as traits “which lead us to respond constructively to new situations, rather than merely to adapt or adjust. The true value of creativity is to be found in daily living, not just in the creation of new products” (p. 15). Creative needs include curiosity, the need to meet challenge and attempt difficult tasks, the need to become fully absorbed in a task, and the need for individuality. Sternberg and Lubart (1992) suggest that creativity has been studied from two perspectives: internal (the process of an individual) and external (the interaction of an individual and context). Creativity is found along a continuum: when it is less contextualized, or internal, the focus is on the psychometric, or personality and process; when it is more contextualized, or external, the focus is on the social-psychological (Amabile) and case-study (Gardner, Feldman).

Let’s now understand what time is and what do psychologists mean by time?

Everything is relative for example if we move in an elevator we presume that the world around is moving but in a different scenario when we look from outside it is totally opposite, same is with time. We all might presume that time is a fixed dimension, one second for me is one second for you, but there is a difference on how every individual experiences and perceives it, it is different for every individual, the main underlying reason is that our brains are not just keeping track of time but our brain also constructs time. It has been observed that when we are in a life threatening situation time seems to slow down, as we grow older it is presumed that time seems to speed up. As per Dr Eagleman the more information the brain has to process the more time seems to last, this is because of more attention to detail.
 If you don’t let a lot of information in, your brain is on an automatic mode and hence time perceives to move faster, this explains why time gets faster as we age since in our current system of education we tend to stop learning after a phase of life and make things more simple and hence the brain does not has to process more information. What in the case we are bored even if we are young, as per Kellaris & Kent, (1992) the reason is that when we are bored we tend to make our brain resources concentrate on monitoring time. It is also said that time is perceived to move faster if we have fun and make our brains think Sackett, Meyvis, Nelson, Converse, & Sackett, (2010). So by this we can conclude that we do have some control over our perception of time, we can make it faster by distracting ourselves by doing things which does not make us keep track of time or we can make it slower by learning new things and giving more food for the brain to think.

How can education systems learn from this?

We could involve in the ways the ancient Greek philosophers used to sit and share knowledge so that our brains had more things to comprehend and hence the time they perceived would have been longer, When you were a child you might have felt that time was much slower that is because you had to learn new things, our current education system needs to bring in more of knowledge merged with creative balance so that we can find a close harmony between perceived time and the subjective time on the clock, by doing this we may be able to find a perfect balance in the amount of knowledge needed to gain optimal balance of perceived time to enhance human perceived life, this may also mean that we may have to have a lifelong education system, this could lead to new concepts for the universities so that they could focus on teaching something new to keep life sustainable. All the six personal traits essential for creativity (intelligence, knowledge, thinking styles, personality attributes, motivation, and environment) would be needed to form a culture where we make the perception of time bigger. Amabile (1983) also lists three personal, or internal, components required for creativity: domain-relevant skills (factual knowledge and technical skills within the domain), creativity-relevant skills (conditional and procedural knowledge), and task motivation (attitudes and self-perception). People are most creative when they are motivated by a passionate interest (Amabile, 1987), and what could be something more passionate than living a longer life.

The influence of culture and context on creativity is emphasized by Csikszentmihalyi and Wolfe (2005), “Creativity is not produced by single individuals, but by a social system making judgments about individuals’ products” (p. 81-82). Such a test on education system would require participants to respond to divergent thinking tasks with products that are rated by experts on certain aspects of creativity (originality, fluency, flexibility).

Cognitive, conative, and environmental factors would influence such a creative change, according to Lubart, Georgsdottir, and Besançon (2009). Cognitive factors include intellect, thinking (divergent, logical and analogical), and knowledge, including the “accumulated facts, theories, and personalized expertise that concern various content domains, but also an understanding of constraints and other implicit parameters that play a role in problem solving” (p. 44). We need to look into our past and learn from the what the others have done, one of the examples would be looking at how animals perceive the world around, the field of bionics has been able to come up with a lot of creative innovations by mimicking the nature, now its time we mimic the basic human tendency to perceive things and make it last for longer by using creative education as a tool.

Academic Poster




  1. Amabile, T. (1983). The social psychology of creativity. New York: Springer-Verlag.
  2. Amabile, T. (1987). The motivation to be creative. In S. Isaksen (Ed.), Frontiers of Creativity Research: Beyond the basics, 223-254. Buffalo, NY: Bearly Limited.
  3. Csikszentmihalyi, M. & Wolfe, R. (2005). Conceptions and research approaches to creativity: mplications of a system perspective approach to creativity in education. In K.Heller, F. Mönks, R. Sternberg, & R.
  4. Kellaris, J. J., & Kent, R. J. (1992). The influence of music on consumers' temporal perceptions: Does time fly when you're having fun? Journal of Consumer Psychology, 1(4), 365-376. doi:
  5. Prabhu, V., Sutton, C., & Sauser, W (2008). Creativity and certain personality traits: Understanding the mediating effect of intrinsic motivation. Creativity Research Journal, 20, 53-66.
  6. Sackett, A. M., Meyvis, T., Nelson, L. D., Converse, B. A., & Sackett, A. L. (2010). You’re having fun when time flies the hedonic consequences of subjective time progression. Psychological Science, 21(1), 111-117.
  7. Torrance, E.P. (1970). Encouraging creativity in the classroom. Dubuque, IA: Wm. C. Brown Publishers.
  8. Sternberg, R.J., & Lubart, T.I. (1992). Buy low and sell high: An investment approach to creativity. Human Development, 34, 1-31.
  9. Wallach, M.A., & Kogan, N. (1965). Modes of thinking in young children: A study of the creativity-intelligence distinction. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, Inc

External Support

  1. EagleMan Lab for Perception and Action

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