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Lead from the Start: Creativity: Lightning or Pearl?

Monday, July 14, 2008

Creativity: Lightning or Pearl?

After returning from a week of painting in the mountains of Virginia I have been slowly re-revving my engine for the education world. While fishing for a topic for this weeks blog I found something to bridge the gap between my worlds.

I found an article from the New York Times on the reality of creativity. I am especially interested in creativity these days as it relates to education. Not only in what teachers do but what kids are taught to do. The article described the falsehood of the Eureka Moment. It described the Eureka moment as really a long fought process of small insight, small fact, small step in a process similar to creating a pearl. “The aha moments grow out of hours of thought and study,” said Jim Marggraff inventor of the Leap Pad Fly pen.

I have found this especially true in the classroom. I have no idea how many times I have told my instructional assistant, "I'm going to figure this one out by tomorrow." By putting down a problem and continuing to turn it over like a rock tumbler I have been able to find a solution. But this has happened easier and more frequently as I have gained experience. When I was faced with a student this year who continued to bother other students during our rest time, I came up with an idea at 4:00 a.m. I told E.the next morning "I am going to call your mother after rest time, what I say to her is up to you." This took the choice of the consequence away from him and myself and focused us on the content of our interactions. It really helped but this is just one decision in the hundreds I a make every day as a teacher. The process is also similar to making art. I have been able to make progress each year on my painting retreat because I continue to think about my painting even while I don't have much time to paint.

I especially find this accretion metaphor valuable in thinking about my education writing. I usually start a paper for my doctoral classes and then think about for 2-3 days, generating and revising ideas, talking to others in the field, and trying to communicate it to my wife. This last one is the real turning point. I know that when I can communicate what I am thinking to someone outside of education I am on the right track. But, all of this takes time just as over time, the process has become easier.

This leaves me with some questions:
How does creativity operate in schools? Is it with a Lightning or a Pearl metaphor that we are using? How can schools become a place where creativity is considered a practice as a opposed to a talent?

Image credits:
painting: "Sunday Morning" sold to to fellow Nimrod artist
lightning: http://nobullets.files.wordpress.com/2008/05/lightning.jpg
pearl: http://www.blackpearls.com.au/images/black-pearl-anatomy.jpg

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6 Comments:

At 5:57 AM, Blogger TracyRosen said...

John,
I found you via Jose.
Your reflection on creativity is inspiring, I've blogged about your questions here:
http://tracyrosen.tumblr.com/post/42578299/john-holland-and-alex-barrera-on-creativity

 
At 12:43 PM, Blogger Melissa B. said...

You ask several existential questions here. I, too, am inspired by any discussion of creativity. My question, then, is: How does the Internet get in the way of our creative selves?

 
At 5:12 AM, Anonymous tracyrosen said...

Provocative question, Melissa. My knee-jerk response is, it doesn't, unh-unh. But after a few seconds of thought I need to admit that it can.

The internet for me is double-edged. It can help with my creative self in that the blogs I read, the images I see, the music I listen to throughout help to inspire my own writing, painting, and thought.

It also can really dull my creativity when I use it as a procrastination tool, like a never-ending television.

BUT that is not the internet's fault, that is mine.

Before the internet I would have watched movies or read trashy novels or just feigned exhaustion and slept when I was procrastinating.

So, it is not the internet (or any other object) that gets in the way of my creative self...it's all me baby.

 
At 8:18 AM, Blogger Triathlonmom said...

Great Post!!!! My new favorite painting too!

 
At 10:31 AM, Blogger Melissa B. said...

BTW: Here's a chance for you to get creative in the comfort of your own blog. Please drop in and check out my Super Summer Sunday Sweepstakes. I'd love it if you could share some Caption Love with us!

 
At 4:57 AM, Blogger loonyhiker said...

I think creativity is so important to finding solutions. Unfortunately, I see too many teachers stifle creativity because they want students to all fit in the same mold. Some teachers aren't flexible enough to allow for creativity and consider these students as troublemakers. We need more flexible teachers willing to allow students to be creative.

 

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