Teaching for creativity with disciplined improvisation

Ronald A. Beghetto, James C. Kaufman

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

34 Scopus citations


One of the biggest fears of teachers, particularly those who are just starting their career, is a classroom in chaos. Many teachers worry that inviting creativity into the classroom will result in curricular chaos (Aljughaiman & Mowrer-Reynolds, 2005; Beghetto, 2007; Westby & Dawson, 1995). At the same time, most teachers generally value student creativity (Runco, 2003) and worry that too great a focus on covering content can turn the act of teaching into little more than series of scripted monologues, delivered to a room full of passive students. These seemingly conflicting concerns and commitments result in a paradox in which teachers find themselves balancing two inverse tensions: (1) teaching requisite academic subject matter while still wanting to foster student creativity; and (2) wanting to allow for creativity yet fearing curricular chaos. In this chapter, we address these tensions and discuss how teachers can, through disciplined improvisation, address the teaching paradox. We show how teachers can have enough structure for academic work to be productive, and at the same time allow for the improvisation necessary to encourage student creativity. We open the chapter by arguing that the teaching paradox results from the gap between the curriculum-as-planned and curriculum-as-lived. We then introduce our elaboration on the concept of disciplined improvisation and discuss how this concept can help address the teaching paradox.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationStructure and Improvisation in Creative Teaching
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)9780511997105
ISBN (Print)9780521762519
StatePublished - Jan 1 2011
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Teaching for creativity with disciplined improvisation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this