In May I shared an article on Facebook from Edutopia, Creativity on the Run: 18 Apps that Support the Creative Process by Diane Darrow. A friend of mine commented on my share "Why is it important for everyone to be creative? I don't have a creative bone in my body, and neither does my daughter, but my son has enough for both of us. Lol."
This comment got my brain working....what is creativity, why is it important, am I a creative person, is my friend?
This summer I have been rereading +Dave Burgess's book, "Teach Like a Pirate," and he discusses creativity. Ok going to paraphrase (because I LOVE this part) from TLAP....Many people believe there are two types of people in the world, those who are creativity and those who are not. Those who are not creative think that creativity comes from a blinding flash of creativity light. But Dave points out this is not true, there is a creative process, it about asking the right questions and thinking upon those a questions. He compares it to tuning in a radio, "most people go through life listening to "creative static" because they have failed to tune their minds to the right station."
My mom also commented on the post, she stated (summarizing) that as a child I was very creative. My preschool teacher told my mom never to let anyone stomp out my imagination. My mom hung a sign on my bedroom door that stated "I am not messy I am creative." (I have tried that excuse on my husband, it doesn’t work at age 33).
Am I still creative? How?
My mom is very creative, she makes these awesome greeting cards with stamps and colors that are beyond my abilities. My sister-in-law is creative, I even let her pick out the colors of paint in my house because she has the ability. My husband is extremely creative. He looks at building materials and builds some of the most amazing items. Just come look at our garage, my classroom or take a walk downtown and see what he has created. But am I creative?
Not all creativity is the same, it can been seen, held, touch, heard and emotionally felt. In the article by Diane Darrow she uses a definition of creativity by Paul Torrance, "the process of sensing problems or gaps in information, forming ideas or hypotheses, testing, modifying these hypotheses and communicating the results. This process may lead to any one of the many kinds or products-verbal and nonverbal, concrete and abstract." When most people think about creativity they think about the product of the nonverbal, concrete and leave out the process of getting to the results. No one points to the person that got a result that was verbal and/or abstract, and says "That person is a creative genius."
Well...unless you are my preschool teacher. She saw (or heard) my creative ability; I was a storyteller, a weaver of the verbal word, a pusher of the voice. In elementary, middle school and the first two years of high school my type of creativity was not encouraged. Teachers told me to sit down, be quiet, stop moving, I was labeled talkative, hyper, and having an attention deficit. But finally I took a risk, stepped out of my comfort zone (the first steps in the creative process) and tried out for my High School play, “Rumors” by Neil Simon. That was the moment I started to tune into my “creative radio station.” There was no blinding flash of light, just slowly the static started to clear.
As a middle school educator I do not want any of my students to feel they are not creative. Everyone is creative, just creative in different ways and it may take a little longer than some to figure it all out. Teachers need to foster all types of creativity, allow the students to think, to problem solve, to test the solutions, to fail (yes, fail) and try again. Accept, encourage and praise all forms of creativity not just the mainstream. In the Edutopia article, Diane Darrow discusses that school culture needs encourage risk-taking and embrace ambiguity. The environment needs to feel safe for students to step out of the comfort zone, take risks and know it is ok to fail (oh my, I used that word again). If the environment does not support this, creativity to will hide, no one will be able to tune in the station.
So Libby find your creative station, help Elana find hers (I have idea for both you, but I want to you to try first. I can give you hints if you want.) Shawn Davids even though you didn't design The Amazing Race, Peter did, you are just as creative. You show it daily in how your motivate the students and teachers in your school, in your blog and it shines through in Peter and Amy. Help them listen to their stations.
Everyone needs to tune into their "Creative Station," listen carefully, then play it loud! Don't let anyone stomp your creativity. Think about it as the old boom box from the 80’s, hold it high on your shoulder, crank it up and make the world listen to your creative station!