It is exasperatingly common to hear the ‘thinking outside the box’ remark in relation to creativity. This is so not because challenging ‘boxed’ thinking is not very useful in itself, but because those who utter this phrase rarely reflect on its meaning and implications.
Paradoxically, on many occasions, being invited to think outside the box ends up creating a new box. This is the ‘creativity box’, built to separate creative expression from other types of thought and behaviour. It is a widespread belief among both researchers and lay people that creativity as a personal quality, as a certain kind of problem solving, is different from the stuff of everyday life. When we make breakfast, when we take the same way to school or to work, when we watch TV and do the laundry we are presumably very much inside the usual box of routines or habits. We don’t create new objects, ideas or actions because we are too busy repeating the same kind of activity we got used to in the most efficient manner possible. We rarely think actually in these circumstances. We ‘consume’ products, ideas, ways of doing things without bringing anything new, personal, worth of being seen and appreciated by others.