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Re: [xmca] schools kill creativity?
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- Subject: Re: [xmca] schools kill creativity?
- From: Jay Lemke <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- Date: Tue, 6 Oct 2009 21:47:56 -0700
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So now I've watched Ken Robinson talk about education and creativity.
A lot of what he said was not particularly new to me, but it did raise
some interesting questions.
I think he was being a tad romanticist in saying that children are
naturally creative. Creativity, I believe, is, like all else that is
socially valued, a learned capacity. I doubt that all other cultures
share our notion of creativity, though a lot of communities like
something new and useful. (Not all.) I think we ought to ask how we do
learn to be creative, or say, to develop our creativity. What are the
tools and strategies? what are the dispositions and feelings, that
Listening in those terms to Robinson, I noted three points. That we
need a disposition that is tolerant of error or mistakes, we need to
feel that it's not so terrible if we turn out to be wrong. We need to
be willing to take some risks and try some strange things, and perhaps
appear to be a bit strange to others.
I think that this point links to something very fundamental about
social, indeed eco-social, systems: for long-term survival they (we)
need some reserve plasticity, something that works against our
becoming too perfectly adapted to the now, too perfectly self-
regulating. We need some spanners (as the British say) built into the
works and occasionally banging about and messing things up.
Unpredictably. If you're a thorough Darwinian, you see this as random
variation some of which gets selected for usefulness under unusual
circumstances. I'm not that thorough a Darwinian, though that is part
of the story. I believe that long-evolved complex eco-social systems
have improved on this hit-and-miss approach and incorporate within
themselves subsystems that are especially good at relevant,
anticipatory, innovation. Creative people, or perhaps better, eco-
social subsystems including people in ways that make them look
creative when regarding in isolation, are important components.
A second point was about inter-disciplinarity. A topic that somehow
didn't catch on a little while back here. Taken broadly, in the
context of creativity, I think this means bringing together things
that previously had not useful connections. Things a bit oblique to
one another, or skew as 3D geometry has the metaphor. Maybe it
includes dialectic, rubbing opposites until a spark produces something
new. And serendipity: accidentally coming upon a way of connecting
something else into the mix. I am guessing that unconscious or not-yet-
verbalizable feelings-as-proto-meanings may guide us toward such
fruitful accidents (and toward useless ones, too).
Finally, Robinson had a story about a dancer, and people who "need to
move to think". The creativity literature (mainly anecdotal or
interview based) abounds with stories of bodily feelings that were
precursors to intellectual ideas. I know that most of my best
thinking, maybe all of it, was accompanied by a compulsion to stand up
and start walking or pacing the room. That's perhaps non-specific or
symptomatic. Other cases are more particular. Robinson's point was
that there are many modes of thinking/feeling (ala Gardner, it
seemed), but I would say that ideas which are too new to already have
a discourse with which to speak them, still need to have some semiotic
medium of being (no Platonic Ideas for me, sorry!), and that medium is
often bodily movements, tensions, and perhaps rhythms, melodies,
visual images without nameable forms, etc.
What would education look like if we used such principles to help
equip people to do differently? And how dangerous would it be?
University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
On Oct 1, 2009, at 5:30 PM, mike cole wrote:
Perhaps of some interest.
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