NYLC: Creativity, Service Learning and PBL
Plenary speaker Ken Robinson is the author of “Out of Our Minds – Learning to be Creative”
“Kids will take a chance. If they don’t know, they’ll have a go. They’re not frightened of being wrong… If your’ not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original… We stigmatize mistakes… we are educating people out of their creative capacities.” Picasso said “All children are born artists and grow out of it as they grow up.”
Love the premise that creativity can be learned, assessed, facilitated and encouraged systematically within the routines of organizations including schools. I mean, duh. But the tirade of critique against this is so tiring within ‘rigorous’ standards and the system that crushes the sparkly thinking and self-efficacy out of not just our kids, but out of the adults coming from the system.
So I’m engaged with this entertaining guy, joking, story telling and giving hope for a new way of educating that is absolutely needed for the new economy, the new technological landscape and the new social orders emerging from this current revolution still rolling. It’s not industrial supply of workers anymore.
“Creativity is the process of having original ideas that have value.”
So it includes trial and error (something we don’t let kids do that much within crowded curriculum check lists).
It includes originality or new ideas to the group or the field (as judged by experts in that field). Ideas from one discipline to another can be a whole new way of solving a problem or seeing things.
I love edges and overlaps of disciplines. How to use photography as a way of seeing biodiversity anew, dog training, child rearing and running meetings, what can I say – Diana (sister) and I agree that dog training is pretty central to organizational behavior.
Creative ideas are often aesthetic – the Occam’s Razor idea that the more elegant, simple solution is more likely to be true. Truth and beauty that link math, physics and art. The curve of a sail in the wind, the exact intersection of forces and matter. This aesthetic threads it’s way through the images I look for, the way I want to inspire students with the truth, beauty and underlying principles of science.
Creativity is bounded to modes of discourse, with different truths in different areas.
And finally, that everyone is creative, it’s not just for a few, sparkly geniuses. (Nice idea, interested in the research on this.) It’s tightly linked to intelligence although not necessarily a score on an IQ test. Like intelligence, it is plastic and changes through life and experiences. (See Nisbett’s excellent book “Intelligence and How to Get Some”. Obviously, I rushed out to buy this when it was STILL IN HARDBACK 🙂 Here’s the NY Times review.)
One measure of creativity is divergent thinking and the ability to see possibilities, make connections and metaphors. Say, how many things can you do with a paper clip? etc.
Here’s some scary data from “Breakpoint and Beyond – Mastering the Future Today”: 98% of 3-5 year olds score at ‘genius’ level. By 8-10 (with the same kids) 32%. 10% at 13-15 and only 2% from a group of 200,000 adults. They got ‘educated’ in a standardized test system where there is one answer, don’t talk. But creativity is fanned by collaboration and open-ended questions with many answers.
To develop people’s creative abilities, there are specific techniques such as Synectics – creative brainstorming that leads to agreed-upon action. There are some generic skills (not sure what these are from his talk. Maybe in the book.)
Engagement is key, who wants to be creative unless you feel a project is meaningful and allows you to develop skills and aptitudes you love, using materials you love too. Words, numbers, colors, music, the sounds of the flute, or whatever makes you the happiest.
Imagine happy, productive, engaged students who learn because they need to know.
And of course, working together is very fun for most teens and for quite a bit of the time. Not always. Collaborative working groups need
- a particular purpose.
- are diverse (abilities, strengths, backgrounds, cultures etc.)
- and have a workable process. So Lennon and McCartney’s process was to not get up until they’d finished the song. 20 minutes to a couple of hours.
Culture – the habits and habitat – of an organization or society can promote a general culture of innovation.
I’m thinking here maybe a culture that sees innovation as fun, as being okay if something doesn’t work the first time – good try mentality. Where something new is not a ‘threat’ to the old way, and where old ways are not automatically thrown out either. Where there is respect for ideas that have value relative to the particular challenge, where it’s about the outcome, not who wins. So it’s respectful of the people contributing too. Egalitarian for new comers and the older members. I’d love to work there, or be part of making it happen.
I’m looking for a little more concrete guidance for fanning creativity, bu I’m inspired and happy to meet a like-minded soul who says it so much better than I can.