Participatory Creativity: Supporting Dynamic Roles and Perspectives in the Classroom

  • Edward P. ClappEmail author
  • Michael Hanchett Hanson
Part of the Creativity Theory and Action in Education book series (CTAE, volume 4)


This chapter introduces the concept of participatory creativity as a dynamic approach to invention and innovation that is particularly relevant to the field of education. Here, the focus of creativity studies shifts from individual ideation to interactions within complex sociohistorical systems. While acknowledging the roles played by those who successfully commit exceptional energy and resources to creative projects and new points of view, the participatory approach reframes those previously deemed as creative individuals as participants in larger narratives. These complex processes of change are described as the biographies of ideas. People play various roles as they contribute to these biographies over time. Such roles are social positions that are neither fixed nor uni-dimensional, but dynamic. After framing this position from a theoretical perspective, the authors offer two examples of participatory creativity in action. These examples show how moving the locus of creativity from individual ideation to social participation makes visible the many ways that young people can participate in the development of creative ideas, while also establishing their own unique “profile of participation” and encouraging creative agency—all while honoring students’ diverse knowledge, expertise, background experiences, and sociocultural perspectives. After discussing some of the limitations of this reframing of creativity as a participatory process, the authors conclude by suggesting implications for practice and future research.



We would like to thank Ron Beghetto and Giovanni Emanuele Corazza for supporting this essay. We would like to further thank Raquel Jimenez for her early contributions to the ideas in this essay. We would like to especially thank educators Julie Rains, Jodie Ricci, Rick Tate, Nick DiGirogio, and Rennie Greenfield—and their students—for sharing their classroom work with us.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Project Zero, Harvard Graduate School of EducationCambridgeUSA
  2. 2.Teachers College, Columbia UniversityNew York CityUSA

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