Creativity in the Curriculum

how creativity happens in the brain and how creativity solved a scientific problem and creativity across the primary curriculum
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Published Date:03-07-2017
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Creativity for 21st Century Skills Jane Piirto Creativity for 21st Century Skills Creativity for 21st How to Embed Creativity into the Curriculum Century Skills Jane Piirto Ashland University, Ohio, USA How to Embed Creativity into “VERY practical, on target for schools today—good balance of theory with anecdotal connections.” the Curriculum “At fi rst I was worried about the time involved. I discovered when given 5 minutes . . . the time is a continuation to their work in progress. Realizing that creativity does not have to consume large chunks of time is more meaningful than tokens.” Jane Piirto “I like the tone of the writing. It feels like there is a conversation going on.” “I like the stories of famous people and how their creativity infl uenced and changed their lives.” CREATIVITY FOR 21ST CENTURY SKILLS describes what many creative people really do when they create. It focuses on the practical applications of a theoretical approach to creativity training the author has developed. Many suggestions for enhancing creativity focus on ideas that are over 60 years old. This new approach may be helpful for those seeking to develop 21st Century Skills of creativity. Five core attitudes (Naiveté, Risk-taking, Self-Discipline, Tolerance for Ambiguity, and Group Trust), Seven I’s (Inspiration, Intuition, Improvisation, Imagination, Imagery, Incubation, and Insight), and several General Practices—the use of ritual, meditation, solitude, exercise, silence, and a creative attitude to the process of life, with corresponding activities, are described, discussed, and illustrated. A discussion of how to be creative within an educational institution is also included. JANE PIIRTO is Trustees’ Distinguished Professor at Ashland University. Her doctorate is in educational leadership. She has worked with students pre-K to doctoral level as a teacher, administrator, and professor. She has published 11 books, both literary and scholarly, and many scholarly articles in peer-reviewed journals and anthologies, as well as several poetry and creative nonfi ction chapbooks. She has won Individual Artist Fellowships from the Ohio Arts Council in both poetry and fi ction and is one of the few American writers listed as both a poet and a writer in the Directory of American Poets and Writers. She is a recipient of the Mensa Lifetime Achievement Award, of an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters, was named an Ohio Magazine educator of distinction. In 2010 she was named Distinguished Scholar by the National Association for Gifted Children. SensePublishers S e n s e P u b l i s h e r s DIVS CHAPTER 1 ST CREATIVITY FOR 21 CENTURY SKILLS Personality, Motivation, Study, and Talent st Currently, there is a call for 21 Century Skills, and these skills include creativity skills. This book will, perhaps help in that endeavor. st These 21 Century Skills include creativity and innovation skills within a compre- st hensive skills framework, as suggested by one of the 21 Century Skills think 6 tanks. These are operationally defined, as follows. Think Creatively 1. Use a wide range of idea creation techniques (such as brainstorming) 2. Create new and worthwhile ideas (both incremental and radical concepts) 3. Elaborate, refine, analyze and evaluate their own ideas in order to improve and maximize creative efforts Work Creatively with Others 4. Develop, implement and communicate new ideas to others effectively 5. Be open and responsive to new and diverse perspectives; incorporate group input and feedback into the work 6. Demonstrate originality and inventiveness in work and understand the real world limits to adopting new ideas 7. View failure as an opportunity to learn; understand that creativity and innovation is a long-term, cyclical process of small successes and frequent mistakes Implement Innovations 8. Act on creative ideas to make a tangible and useful contribution to the field in which the innovation will occur When people speak or think of creativity, they mistakenly think of it as having only to do with the visual arts and the other arts. Creativity cuts across all areas, and has to do with making new in all domains. A few of the skills called for above (1, 3) focus on divergent thinking, a concept (that is over 60 years old), sometimes confused with creativity. Other skills (2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8) focus on what I am going to write about in this book. Creativity is simply defined here, as “to make something new,” as a prerequisite to innovation. 1 CHAPTER 1 Divergent thinking was part of the psychologist J. P. Guilford’s Structure of Intellect. In 1950, Guilford, who was then President of the American Psychological Association, gave a speech that is often called the beginning of the modern interest in creativity as a measurable phenomenon. Guilford theorized that there are 120 kinds of measurable intelligence factored across five operations, four contents, and six products. One of the five operations was divergent thinking. His attempt to create a measurable phenomenon still challenges researchers, who often fail at defining creativity and thus fail to measure it. J. P. Guilford differentiated between “convergent” thinking and “divergent” thinking. Convergent thinking emphasizes remembering what is known, being able to learn what exists, and being able to save that information in one’s brain, being able to find the correct answer—i.e., converge. Divergent thinking emphasizes the revision of what is already known, of exploring what can be known, and of building new information—i.e. diverge. People who prefer the convergent mode of intellect supposedly tend to do what is expected of them, while those who prefer the divergent mode of intellect supposedly tend to take risks and to speculate. Divergent production has often been confused with creativity. Here are Guilford’s original factors that make up divergent production: “sensitivity to problems, ideational fluency, flexibility of set, ideational novelty, synthesizing ability, analyzing ability, reorganizing or redefining ability, span of ideational structure, and evaluating 7 ability.” He developed tests to measure each of these. Whole industries of exercise books, curricula, assessment systems, and suggestions have been based on the psychometrically measured Guilfordian “operation” of divergent production. I will include a short discussion and an exercise in divergent production in Chapter 4. Creativity has been a topic of discussion and of research in the field of psycho- logy for approximately sixty years. Psychology is the parent discipline of education, and education often takes its definitions from psychology. Psychology, the scientific study of mental operations and behavior, asks: What makes people creative? How can creativity be measured? How can creativity be enhanced? What can we learn from creative adults that will help us raise more creative children? Is creativity an aptitude? Is creativity ability? Is creativity a domain? Is creativity acquired? Is creativity innate? What happens in the mind while a person is creating? What are the conditions for creative production? What inhibits creative production? What does the social setting contribute to creativity? Is creativity a solitary or community activity? All these, and more, are questions psychologists have sought to study with regard to creativity. Creativity research usually follows four streams, called the “4 P’s”: Process, Product, Person, and Press (meaning environmental influence). st Educators nowadays are focusing on a set of recommendations called 21 century st skills, and among these are creativity skills. Perhaps it’s time to join the 21 century, and to add to the divergent production exercises that flood the creativity enhancement market in education, and move into a new set of skills that take into account the whole person, the whole teacher, the “interior teacher,” as popular educator Parker 8 Palmer called it. This book will add to the literature on the interior lives of teachers, with an emphasis on new sets of skills. See Table 1.1. 2 ST CREATIVITY FOR 21 CENTURY SKILLS st Table 1.1. How 21 century skills and Piirto’s creativity system relate ST 21 CENTURY CREATIVITY SKILLS PIIRTO’S CREATIVITY SYSTEM Think Creatively 1. Use a wide range of idea creation – Core Attitudes (Openness to Experience, techniques (such as brainstorming) Risk-Taking, Tolerance for AmbiguityI’s (Inspiration, Intuition Insight, Imagination, Imagery, Incubation, ) – General Aspects (Exercise) 2. Create new and worthwhile ideas – Core Attitudes (Openness to Experience, (both incremental and radical Risk-Taking, Tolerance for Ambiguity, concepts) Self-Discipline, Group Trust) – Seven I’s – General Aspects 3. Elaborate, refine, analyze and – Core Attitudes (Openness to Experience, evaluate their own ideas in order to Risk-Taking, Tolerance for Ambiguity. improve and maximize creative – I’s (Incubation, Intuition) efforts – General Aspects Work Creatively with Others 4. Develop, implement and – Core Attitudes (Openness to Experience, Risk- communicate new ideas to others Taking, Tolerance for Ambiguity, Group Trust) effectively – I’s (Imagination, Imagery, Improvisation, General Aspects 5. Be open and responsive to new and – Core Attitudes (Group Trust) diverse perspectives; incorporate group input and feedback into the work 6. Demonstrate originality and – Core Attitudes (Tolerance for Ambiguity; inventiveness in work and understand Self-Discipline; Group Trust) the real world limits to adopting new – I’s (Intuition Inspiration, Incubation) ideas – General Aspects (Creativity as the Process of a Life) 7. View failure as an opportunity to – Core Attitudes (Openness to Experience, learn; understand that creativity and Risk-Taking, Tolerance for Ambiguity, innovation is a long-term, cyclical Self-Discipline) process of small successes and – General Aspects (Creativity as the Process of a frequent mistakes Life) Implement Innovations 8. Act on creative ideas to make a – Core Attitudes (Tolerance for Ambiguity tangible and useful contribution to the Self-Discipline; Group Trust) field in which the innovation will – I’s (Intuition Inspiration Incubation) occur – General Practices (Creativity as the Process of a Life) Successful creators in domains have similar patterns of education and familial 9 influence, depending on the domain in which the creativity is practiced. I have studied persons by domain of creativity rather than by general creativity aptitude, 10 with a view to how their life paths can inform the creative process. That is, most of my research has been on the Person and Press, with very little emphasis on the Product. Each domain has its own rules of accomplishment and paths to achievement. However, as I was reading biographies, interviews, and memoirs and plotting life 3 CHAPTER 1 paths and thinking about the environmental suns, as delineated in my model, The Piirto Pyramid (see Appendix), I inevitably came upon the creative process as practiced by creators. I noticed that no matter what a creator creates, the creative process is remarkably similar. There are commonalities across domains. Most creative adults in the domains of visual arts, literature, science, mathe- matics, music, acting, athletics, invention, entrepreneurship, and dance talked about their creative process in what could be called holistic, or organic terms, rather than 11 in step-by-step linear progressions. Cognitive psychologists disparage such accounts, which they call anecdotal and retrospective, and therefore untrustworthy, saying that you can’t trust what people say about their own creative processes, because how can they know what’s really 12 happening inside. Such disparaging of the biographical is a common practice for scientifically oriented psychologists who distrust any findings that are not made with double-blind experiments. But my literary background, which dwelt on the poetic way of knowing that embraces the psychoanalytic and the depth psychological 13 viewpoints of Freud, Jung, and Hillman, caused me to doubt the psychologically scientific and to search for the experiential, the affective, and the artistic in these biographical descriptions. As I studied the creative processes of creators, I found no mention of the words creative problem-solving, fluency, flexibility, brainstorming, or elaboration in the essays, memoirs, biographies, and interviews of creators in various domains. The creative process as practiced by creative productive adults has engaged thinkers of the world from prehistoric times, but none of them has described the creative process in the way that it has been taught in schools for the past fifty years. For example, mythological and classical perspectives on the creative process have 14 viewed inspiration as the visitation of the Muse, which is the inspiration of desire, or of love, but a discussion of love is often confused with a discussion of sex, and the schools step back from such discussions. Historically, the creative process has also been tied with desire for spiritual unity, and when people describe their creative process, they often get dreamy and intense. Schools focus on the concrete, and any venture into the mystical or spiritual is often confused with the teaching of religion, which is banned in public schools. The creative process is also tied with the desire for personal expression. People who create also express their autobiographical experiences, their coded stories, their past traumas, their obsessions, and their passions. While the personal is often evoked in school in the form of journals or essays, the most value is placed on the expository, the impersonal, and the evaluative. The concept of two sides of the brain, the right side for creativity and the left side for plodding intellect, is part of overly simplistic contemporary understanding 15 of creativity. (Indeed, we need the whole brain for creative production.) What is popularly called “right-brain thinking,” is often considered flakey and not trustworthy, and, therefore, “creative,” in quotation marks, is often a put-down. Those who are creative seem to follow certain common practices. Even the most recent biographical accounts describe experiences similar to those of yore. Creators in the sixteenth century accessed practices remarkably similar to creators in the 4 ST CREATIVITY FOR 21 CENTURY SKILLS twenty-first century, yet these practices are glossed over in the creativity books that fill the book stalls at exhibit halls at education conferences. In the domain of education, we rely upon psychology to lead us, and the psychologists, especially the educational psychologists, seem to be still in Guilford’s cognitive (mind) view. Remember, he called his theory the Structure of the Intellect. Another multi- factored theorist in psychology, Howard Gardner, has called his eight types of intelligences, frames of mind, and each of his books has the word “mind” in the title. The body and the heart are minimized in these theories (though two of Gardner’s intelligences are the interpersonal and the kinesthetic). The repertoires of many of those who teach people to be creative, who often use only strategies based on Guilford’s cognitive aspect of divergent production in enhancing creativity, should be expanded. Many of the creative and productive adults whose lives are worthy of scholarly biographies seemed to have creative processes that could be divided into three themes, with several subthemes. (1) They seemed to have certain core attitudes toward creativity; (2) they experienced what I came to call the Seven I’s (Inspiration, Insight, Intuition, Incubation, Improvisation, Imagery, Imagination) (3) they engaged in certain general practices: a need for solitude and for rituals; they had formally studied their domains; they liked meditative practices; they were part of a community of people working in the same domain; their creativity was part of a lifestyle, a lifelong process. I have collapsed these into what I call the Five Core Attitudes for Creativity, the Seven I’s for Creativity, and the General Practices for Creativity, and I began to translate these concepts into lessons. Not all creators use all of these techniques, but many creators use at least some of the techniques. Why can’t people who want to be more creative, and people who teach people to be more creative, try to duplicate, or imitate what the creative producers of works of art, science, invention, and music, say they do while they create? By now, I have assembled many activities that tap into the mysterious, nebulous, dreamy, solitary, quietness of the creative process as it has been written about and talked about by adult creators. I have asked my teacher students in creativity classes to try these activities, and to translate the principles upon which the activities are based, into activities that would be able to be used by the children and 16 adolescents they teach. Over the years, a thousand or so of my undergraduate and graduate students have completed biographical studies that illuminate the themes in creators’ lives, and how they create. Students are to analyze the life path and creative process of the creator according to the theoretical framework of my Pyramid of Talent Development. (See Appendix A for an explanation of the Piirto Pyramid of Talent Development.) Results show that the patterns in creative lives that I have delineated in my two books, Talented Children and Adults, and Understanding Creativity, seem to hold up. I have presented these ideas about the creative process in real creators to thousands of people at psychology and education conferences and at workshops. While my work has been with teachers and college students, and not with business 5 CHAPTER 1 people, the other great consumers of materials on creativity, perhaps what is here described can be extrapolated. The Thorn Of Creativity Is Necessary On my Pyramid of Talent Development there is a thorn. The thorn compels the person to create. Often, the creative person decides to pursue the development of his or her creative talent after some catalyst reveals that this is what must happen. It may be winning a contest or receiving praise or becoming so pleasantly engrossed in the making that is creating that the person realizes that this is what he or she must do come hell or high water. It may be a depression that is assuaged by making or creating, so much so that the self-healing that happens when one is creative warns the person that he or she must create in order to prevent illness. It may come after a long period of thought and meditation. The creative person recognizes that the thorn is pricking and the call must be answered. Here is a drawing one of my group members made to illustrate a quotation about the thorn of creative passion; one cannot not do what it pricks at. Jung described the creative person, the “poet” (by this he was Platonic and Aristotelian, using the term “poet” to indicate all those who create) and his or her “art” (by this he meant poesis, the work the creative person does) thus: “Art is a kind of innate drive that seizes a human being and makes him its instrument. The artist is not a person endowed with free will who seeks his own ends, but one Figure 1. “They Can’t Not Write“. 6 ST CREATIVITY FOR 21 CENTURY SKILLS 17 who allows art to realize its purpose through him.” Jung commented that the lives of such creators are often unsatisfactory on the personal level because “a person must pay dearly for the divine gift of the creative fire.” Carl Jung believed that people are bestowed with certain talents when they are born–he called this “energy.” Because this energy is so all-powerful, creators may exhibit “ruthlessness, selfishness, and vanity” (he commented on the narcissistic personalities of creators), but this could be excused because of the calling, which, from birth, pursues the creator to interpret the world by being subordinate to his talent. The poet (creator) gives his or her talent form in the domain in which he or she works. Thus the “great work of art is like a dream” that “does not explain itself and 18 is never unequivocal.” The dream portrays an image, and this image is reflective of what Jungians call the objective psyche or collective unconscious, something bigger than the person him- or herself, a representation, an interpretation, of what exists in the spiritual nature of the society. The life of the creator does not explain the work, interesting though the life may be. The work itself is its own explanation. So, let us consider then our paradoxical image of a thorn. Immediately we picture the thorn on a stem. The stem is essential to the thorn, for the thorn cannot exist without the nourishment from the stem rooted in the earth, within the eco- system, the planet, the cosmos. Raising our focus upward, we see the thorn protects the stem, upon which grows the rose. All are part of the image of the thorn. The rose is contained in the thorn and the thorn protects the rose. The rose is the symbol, or the image, of multitudinous meanings, many sentimental, many intertwined with religion, royalty, and mystery. Whatever the image is, the rose can become–the thorn, which can prick, stab, or loosen the flesh which tries to capture it, to hold it, protects it. Conversely, where lives are loosened and pierced, be it traumatic, ecstatic, or both, the thorn calls attention to a deeply rooted unfolding, blossoming, always more. Musician Quincy Jones is an example. At age eleven, he broke into a warehouse and found a piano. “I touched that piano and every cell in my body said this is what you will do for the rest of your life,” he said. He would revisit that piano to learn songs he’d heard his neighbor Lucy play. He began composing music before he knew what a key signature was. When he heard a local barber playing the trumpet, he was hooked on playing it also, but he tried everything from violin to the 19 sousaphone before he finally got his hands on a trumpet. He said, “that when he got a trumpet, “the love, this passion came forth, and that’s when somebody lit a flame, a candle inside, and that candle still burns, you know, it never went out. I’d stay up all night sometimes until my eyes bled to write the music.” MOTIVATION TO CREATE: PASSION FOR WORK IN A DOMAIN Motivation to create has to do with The Thorn. The main cause for creativity is that the creative person wants to be creative, in whatever domain he or she is working – whether it be woodworking in the basement, dancing, acting, drawing, singing, doing science, mathematics, inventing, being an entrepreneur, being an athlete, cooking, 7 CHAPTER 1 20 sewing, building, designing. People who are creative must have motivation. Creators intend to be creative, to make—something. People have to want to be creative. Creativity takes a long time and a certain amount of obsession. Motivation is 21 the only and main personality attribute that all creative people have and need. The creator prepares by study and mental readiness. Creative people want and need to make things in their domains of interest. They also possess the talent necessary to create in their domains, and they have had the environmental influence necessary. These environmental influences include beginning family influences. We can extrapolate from psychological work on reward. What are the rewards for being creative? Fame is not usually one of them. Musician Mat Callahan said, “I have never found any correlation between money and the effectiveness of the creative process and its results.” He went on: “Do I produce a demand for my creative work … do I produce marketable commodities? Maybe. Do I apply my energies to my creative work, regardless? Certainly. Continuously. Why? Because of the 22 satisfaction I derive from the process itself and the pleasure it brings to others.” The most enriching rewards for creative endeavor are intrinsic; that is, the reward is in the pleasure the creator takes in doing the work itself, and in achieving the result, and not from the pay or the prize. Even painters who don’t have galleries, musicians who don’t have audiences, writers who aren’t published, actors who act in community theater, dancers who dance alone, scientists and mathematicians who spread the table with arcane formulas to solve personally challenging problems, do not stop doing. While some may say that creative people need a killer instinct, and need to be so driven that they would do anything for fame, recognition, or validation, continued creative production derives from less cruel motives. The work itself is intrinsically interesting. Often, the thorn, the passion that wounds, also saves. The obsession that is ingrained in the image can serve to rescue someone who is lost. Musician Eric Clapton suffered from heroin addiction and from alcoholism. His girlfriend indulged in drugs and alcohol with him. After two stints in rehab, Clapton was able to quit, and has remained sober for over twenty years. He said that it was his desire to play and create music that saved him. His girlfriend was not so fortunate, for she had no passion for creating. She died after many relapses, saying that she had 23 nothing else but the addiction, and that she was unable to give it up. Thus, the creative process is not merely as described or practiced by the educational and psychology experts. It is more complex. Often the creative process is similar to a spiritual or a transformational practice in creators. Some have said 24 that God draws people to himself through creativity. Creators are often apt to closely guard the mysteries of the creative process, and to treat the creative process ritualistically. Personal transformation is often necessary so the person who wants to create will slough off the reasons not to create. You can’t teach students to be creative unless you have tried out your own creative impulses. And everyone is creative, and has creative impulses. Often, placing yourself into proximity to other creators, and practicing a process whether or not you believe it will work, is enough to make it work. Lassitude, laziness, inertia—all operate in preventing us from creating. 8 ST CREATIVITY FOR 21 CENTURY SKILLS Rejection, indifference, and criticism from others also thwart creativity. Fear of creating also has a place in obstructing the creative process. Many of my students are female teachers who have such busy lives as mothers, wives, and professionals, that they have forgotten who they are, essentially, who they were before they led lives of sacrifice for love, and they often experience a deep feeling of coming home during the creativity class. DO YOU HAVE THE PERSONALITY TO BE CREATIVE? Certain personality characteristics are common in creators, as you can see on the 25 base of the Piirto Pyramid. Which of these do you have? Look at the following list. Think about a time in your life when you showed this personality characteristic and tell a story about that time. This may take some time, but it may be fun for you to recall your own past personality-driven experiences and acts. In a class, perhaps a few minutes at the beginning or during each or several class periods can be given to doing this. Table 1.2. My personality attributes MY PERSONALITY MY STORY: WHEN I SHOWED ATTRIBUTES THIS ATTRIBUTE Androgyny—a balance of masculinity and femininity Imagination Introversion Intuition Independence Naiveté, Or Openness To Experience, Conscientiousness Creativity Perceptiveness Persistence Preference For Complexity Resilience Risk-taking Self-discipline Perfectionism (self) Tolerance For Ambiguity Motivation to Create Intensity (overexcitability in intellect, emotion, imagination, 26 sensation, or physicality 9 CHAPTER 1 If you are curious about which personality attributes you prefer, take an online personality test or two. The one I most often work with is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, which was one of the tests developed when they began researching the 27 personalities of creative adults in Berkeley, California in the early 1950s. The Myers- Briggs Type Indicator also has a creativity scale. The research on the creative person- ality has gone on for over 50 years, and the early findings still hold true. As Frank Barron, one of the primary researchers said in 1968, “Three distinct traits characterize creative people: (a) they discern more complexity than others, (b) they possess more perceptual openness and resist premature judgmental closure, and they depend on intuition and hunches to a great degree. Finally, creative people seem motivated 28 to create since they often expend a great amount of energy on their productions.” If you don’t think you show these personality characteristics, don’t despair. None of this is set in stone. The major point here is that you have the thorn and you have the motivation. DO YOU KNOW THE DOMAIN? Besides the thorn and the motivation, you have to know what you’re doing. This will entail study, if you want to get serious about the creativity. Knowledge of the domain in which a person wants to work is absolutely necessary. In teaching, people take classes in how to teach, and in classroom management. The people who observe a teacher managing a class don’t even know he or she is managing, the class procedures are so seamless. This is knowing the domain. Pulitzer prize- winning composer John Adams said, There’s no substitute for having plain, awesome musical chops: having a great ear, being able to perform well on an instrument, and having a huge, encyclopedic knowledge of music. Composers should know everything. Nowa- days there’s no excuse for not being at least aurally familiar with medieval music and Renaissance music, and they should know jazz and pop music, too. 29 It’s all possible to do. The formal study that is necessary to create within a domain cannot be short- circuited. Expertise is necessary. The rule of thumb is called The Ten Year Rule; that is, one should have studied a domain for about ten years before one can make 30 an original contribution. They also say that you should do 10,000 repetitions. This varies by domain of creativity, but the point is that if you are interested in doing something, you should study it, preferably in a formal way. You’re not going to invent a new car design without studying car design and know what has been done before, what didn’t work, what worked, and where the car design field can be pushed. In studies I did of published and award-winning creative writers, I found that almost all of them majored in literature as undergraduates, before they turned to creative writing as a profession. They had read literature and studied it before they 31 were accepted as writing it. Many people say, “I am not creative, never have been, never will be.” Others say, “I wish I were more creative but don’t know how to be.” In my practice as a professor who teaches teachers, I have often heard both of these statements. Teachers 10 ST CREATIVITY FOR 21 CENTURY SKILLS are urged to teach their students to be creative, but the teachers themselves are often reluctant, fearful, and uneducated in how to do so. My belief is that the teachers must themselves be transformed in order to teach their students to be creative. The following pages will, I hope, lead to your, the reader’s own “aha,” and contribute to your own transformation into being a more creative person than you have been in the past. I will discuss each of the Five Core Attitudes, Seven I’s, and General Practices, giving examples from the lives of eminent creators, and giving examples of exercises you can try either with a group or by yourself. As a teacher I ask myself one question each time I plan a lesson. How can I help my students take the concept I am teaching about into their own physical reality? If we do not do it physically, with our senses, we are likely to not take it in com- pletely. (That is the reason we remember our gym classes more than our math classes.) How can I as a teacher create a lesson that will make an image? How can I make the concept concrete? “What is the image?” is my teaching motto. Every time I am teaching something and every time I am writing something, I try to create the image or the experience so that my students and my listeners can create the image. So far it has seemed to work. What is personal transformation, after all? Many writers on the topic use the 32 image of the caterpillar transforming into a butterfly. I think that is a little cliché and corny, but the image, being a standard science lesson for kindergartners, whose teachers show them chrysalises from which butterflies emerge, has the advantage that everyone will get it. Personal transformation means that a person will become more intensely and wholly who she is and has always potentially been. In the process, the person experiences a sense of recognition through the revelation provided by the images that have been created. The truth emerges and the person feels more wholly her ideal self. This is an inner process in which the person blooms forth in becoming what is possible. The person then, in turn, may sway others to experience their own creative transformations. I am not a therapist, nor do I claim to have discovered the meaning of life, nor do I claim to be a healer or a leader to anyone but my students, and that always ends when the semester ends, and so I urge you to seek your own transformative images through some of the following practices. SUMMARY OF KEY POINTS st 1. The 21 Century Skills movement has stated that creativity is important. 2. Many of the creativity skills currently taught are based on a theory of divergent production that is over 60 years old. 3. New skills should be based on what real creators do while they create. 4. The guiding framework for this book comes from the author’s model/image of a pyramid and suns. 5. Personality attributes, cognitive ability, talent, environmental factors, motivation, and knowledge of the field are necessary in developing one’s creativity. 6. Creativity enhancement is often a transformative process for the individual. 11 CHAPTER 1 MY THOUGHTS AND INSIGHTS ON THE IDEAS IN THIS CHAPTER Possibilities: – Fill out your own Pyramid of Talent Development, based on the figure in Appendix A. – What is your “thorn”? – Discuss your motivation for creating. – Discuss your training, study, and development in a domain. – Make an image (drawing, creative writing, music, photography, dance, diagram, etc.) of some idea in this chapter. 12 CHAPTER 2 FIVE CORE ATTITUDES This chapter will discuss the five core attitudes creative people seem to possess: (1) Core attitude of Self-discipline about doing the creative work, which includes the presence of motivation; (2) core attitude of Naiveté, or openness to experience; (3) core attitude of Risk-taking; (4) core attitude of Tolerance for Ambiguity; (5) core attitude of Group Trust. One of the most common practices among all creators is the fact that they make notes to themselves of ideas that occur to them. The notes are written in personal code. In order to begin to practice the five core attitudes, buy a sketchbook from the local drugstore. It should be small enough to be mobile, to be put into a purse, pocket, or briefcase. Alternately, always make sure to have a stub of pencil and a scrap of paper, to make notes and marks. So. Begin. Take yourself and your ideas seriously. Jot your thoughts. The notes and marks are just that, messages to yourself, not to be interpreted by anyone else but you, the maker of the marks. I call this a Thoughtlog because the content is thoughts. No one else has to be able to understand it. CORE ATTITUDE OF SELF-DISCIPLINE When one studies the lives of creators, one often finds they have created many, many works, even though they may be only known for one, two, or a few. This production of multiples takes self-discipline, and the self-discipline leads to the great productivity of creators. Expertise research says that one cannot contribute anything new to a domain unless one has been working in the domain for at least 33 ten years. Expertise is acquired after one has done 10,000 or more repetitions, which is called deliberate practice. As a result of this exposure to the domain, an expert can recognize what’s wrong instantaneously, and move to fix it. Experts in a domain have developed their long-term memories, and can retrieve information that is pertinent to the problem at hand, and immediately, or with some thought, figure out what needs to be done. The expertise research downplays the existence of domain talent as well as creativity ability as too nebulous, too un-quantifiable, too abstract, and seeks to extrapolate how people acquire the skills to make what they will make. Expertise is acquired by focusing on certain skills polished by deliberate practice, and the question that is often asked is whether deliberate practice can account for differences between those who are considered “more talented” and those who are considered “less talented.” The expertise people do not doubt that innate differences exist, but they are seeking to find out whether these differences account for the ultimate levels of accomplishment certain individuals can achieve. 13 CHAPTER 2 The creator has acquired automaticity, the ability to do the task without thinking. Picture the piano student, practicing scales for hours, logging constant and con- tinuous days and months in the practice room. Picture the athlete, doing drills for hours, logging constant and continuous days and months on the practice court. Picture the writer, sitting alone at the desk, writing poems and stories and novels, with only a few published. Picture the teacher, glancing at student papers and immediately being able to figure out how it can be improved, and what needs to be done when the student revises. Picture the aged visual artist Willem de Kooning, who, even after he had achieved fame and notoriety, would spend hours 34 drawing portraits of the people he saw on television. All of these creators have acquired expertise. Examples from Creators of the Core Attitude of Self-Discipline Van Gogh wrote to his brother Theo, an art dealer, “I am daily working on drawing 35 figures. I shall make a hundred of them before I paint them.” Visual artist Josef Albers said, “In science one plus one is two, but in art it can be three. Often I have to paint a picture ten different times before I reach a realization. I usually start with 36 a small sketch, then comes painting after painting until I realize what I’m after.” Choreographer Agnes de Mille noted that “all artists—indeed all great careerists— submit themselves, as well as their friends, to lifelong, relentless discipline, largely 37 self-imposed and never for any reason relinquished.” Most well known creators are known for only a few of their voluminous numbers of creative works, produced through great self-discipline over a period of years. Composer William Bolcom said, “For a big piece, I pull together a big morgue of sketches — little notations, jottings that will remind me of how a particular passage might go. When there are enough of these things, I’m ready to write. That’s exactly what happened with the Songs of Innocence and of Experience. Suddenly I realized that I was ready to start, I was ready to get the thing done, after 38 sketching, working on bits and pieces, for quite a number of years.” Exercise for a Group or for Staff Development In creativity group, group members use their Thoughtlogs to signify the importance of repetitive practice. The Thoughtlogs are solitary creative practice, as well as practice in the core attitude of self-discipline. The group members must make marks for 10 minutes a day. “Making marks” means anything—not only writing. Sometimes, literally, the page for the day has consisted of one pencil slash. These are not judged nor commented upon; e.g., this is not a dialogue between teacher and student as journals often are, but an attempt to imitate the creative practice of creators; who all make marks about their products; they do not hold them in their heads and produce them full-blown, as Venus rises from the sea. To form a habit takes about 21 days to 2 months, according to popular internet sources. This requirement has had various results; one student used the sketches in her Thoughtlog for her senior art show; others have not continued the practice, but have looked back on the 15 weeks of creativity group and find there a portrait of 14 FIVE CORE ATTITUDES their lives at that time. They did not take the “habit” of creative thinking to its regular deliberate practice, because they were not motivated to do so. Exercise to Do Alone Practice. You want to become an actor, a dancer, an athlete, a scientist, a mathe- matician, a musician, a creative writer, a visual artist? A teacher? Practice. One of the funniest examples (in a sad way) of a teacher acquiring expertise is in the movie Chalk, where the history teacher learns, through the course of his first year, 39 how complicated is the art of teaching. People often ask me how I can get so much writing done. I tell them my great secret. Every day I put my seat on the chair. Every day. I work on what project is at the forefront, and I am always working on several projects at once. One day I work on an article that needs revising; one day I work on a poem from my Thoughtlog; one day I work on an essay; one day I work on this book; one day I work on a literature review for a study that we are doing. But every day I write, and I have done this for more than the ten years requisite for experts. It adds up. Can a person be creative without a product? If you ask someone, “Are you creative?” and the person answers, “Yes,” the next question is “what are you creative at?” The person has to give an example, or several, to illustrate. Thus the creator creates, within a domain of practice. So. Choose a domain. Something you have always wanted to do. Your “thorn.” Now. Practice. When you get as old as I am, you will have drawers full, file cabinets full, of work you have practiced. Ways Teachers Can Embed the Core Attitude of Self-Discipline Here are some ways that teachers can embed the core attitude of self-discipline in their students. Table 2.1. Ways teachers can embed the core attitude of self-discipline Ways Teachers can Embed the Core Attitude of Self-Discipline – Discuss self-discipline with the students and ask for their own hints and keys to self-discipline in work, diet, exercise, and various activities they want to master. – Discuss long-term goal setting and short-term goal setting. – Do a visualization where students project themselves into the future, see themselves where they will be in a month, a year, five years. – Show and discuss examples of how people achieved goals. – Break down long-term assignments into small steps, and monitor the steps with a chart, a list, and a personal high-five. Give students a calendar so that they can check off that they have completed the steps. 15 CHAPTER 2 – Discuss frequent excuses that people make not to achieve their goals. 1. What’s the point of all this? 2. Why bother? 3. I’m not good enough. I don’t have what it takes. 4. Let’s do it later. 40 5. I’ll do it later. I’m going to do something else before I do it. – Have the students create a schedule for when they will do their work. – Emphasize the importance of being on time for appointments. (If you don’t show up, for the rehearsal, you can’t practice.) – Treat work as practice, not as a final product. – Value hard work—emphasize the process, not the product. 16 FIVE CORE ATTITUDES MY THOUGHTS AND INSIGHTS ON THE CORE ATTITUDE OF SELF-DISCIPLINE Possibilities: – Discuss how practice made for automaticity in the expertise you have acquired. – How does self-discipline figure into your own creative life? – Make an image (drawing, creative writing, music, photography, dance, diagram, skit, etc.) of this core attitude. 17 CHAPTER 2 CORE ATTITUDE OF OPENNESS TO EXPERIENCE Naiveté here means openness to experience, one of the Big Five Personality Attributes. An attitude openness to experience as a core attitude refers to the fact that creative people pay attention to the small things, and they are able to view their fields and domains by seeing the old as if it were new. They are able to view things as if never seen before, and therefore, they are able to pierce beneath the surface, and to make creative works that open up the field in ways that have never before been done. “Why didn’t I think of that?” is often the reaction of other people in the domain. “I could have done that,” is another reaction, but of course, without knowledge of the domain, they couldn’t. This core attitude implies that the person perceiving has such familiarity with the domain, that the work can be done with skill and knowledge. Examples from Creators of Openness to Experience/Naiveté Examples abound in every domain of creativity. The invention of Velcro came from noticing burrs in the woods. Inventor Georges Mestral teamed with a weaver to create the fastener. Levi Strauss was selling canvas when miners told him they needed pants. When he made pants out of canvas, the miners told him they chafed. He substituted a fabric called serge de Nimes, which was shortened to denim. His knowledge of fabrics was essential to his naïveté. Creators focus on the smallest details and probe what is beneath the surface. The photographer Robert Mapplethorpe and the artist Georgia O’Keeffe exposed the inner, erotic parts, of flowers, and people began to see flowers differently. The attitude is an attitude of acceptance and curiosity about the odd and strange. The attitude of openness to experience includes the ability to notice and to remark differences in details. The artists Arshile Gorky and Willem de Kooning used to walk the streets of New York at night, pointing out the reflections of the few neon lights in paper thrown on the streets, remarking on the shapes and shadows, 41 seeing the obvious as if new. Composer Igor Stravinsky called this openness “the gift of observation.” He said, “The true creator may be recognized by his ability always to find about him, in the commonest and humblest thing, items worthy of 42 note.” Poet Jane Hirshfield spoke of the source of the literary imagination as being perpetually perched on the edge, or in the margins. A certain receptivity is possible to people situated thus. She called them “threshold people.” She said: “It is the task of the writer to become that permeable and transparent; to become … a person on 43 whom nothing is lost.” Hirshfield called this “threshold consciousness,” where the writer surrenders normal conceptions of reality and being and adopts a new conception that includes the freedom of genuine love for “the many possibilities of 44 being.” Keeping oneself in a constant state of wonder and curiosity is essential for threshold consciousness. One must view the world with naiveté. 18 FIVE CORE ATTITUDES One could say that cultivating an attitude of openness to experience is cultivating mindfulness, a Buddhist concept, but a person doesn’t need to be a Buddhist to practice mindfulness. A person should just pay attention to the present. A good example of this attitude is often experienced when one travels. Entering a new city, a new land, the senses are open; one sees, hears, smells, touches, and tastes with gusto, and with curiosity, scenes and a milieu that the natives take for granted. Exercise for a Group or for Staff Development To cultivate the attitude of openness to experience, one exercise may illustrate. The raisin meditation is an exercise in being mindful of taste and smell. We eat, slowly, two raisins, noticing the taste, texture, and smell. The leader sits in a chair, demonstrating. Put one raisin in each palm. Put your palms up in an attitude of openness. Sit in your chair, comfortably. Put both feet on the floor, your back against the back of the chair. Close your eyes and breathe deeply. In, 2, 3, 4, Out 2, 3, 4. After several deep breaths, with eyes still closed, and in silence, the leader says, Now slowly begin plumping the raisin that is the heaviest. Don’t break its skin. Slowly bring it up to your nose, and sniff it. As you sniff it, feel the spurting of saliva from the sides of your mouth. Your body is responding to smell. Your wonderful body and its instincts and reactions are aware and open. Now put the raisin into your mouth and shift it side to side, without breaking its skin. Feel it with your tongue. Move it about, and, when you are ready, take a small bite. Taste the sweet- ness of the sun in the raisin bite. Now take another bite, but don’t swallow. Slowly chew the raisin, enjoying its sunny sweetness, its fresh flavor. When you are ready, slowly swallow it, feeling it go down your throat to your beautiful stomach. When you are ready, take the other raisin and repeat the process, slowly and silently, enjoying the second raisin as dessert, being mindful of the process of eating. Keep your eyes closed after you have finished. When everyone is done, the leader says, Open your eyes. Silently, without speaking, write a poem about the experience. After everyone has written something down, the leader asks them to pair share, with a neighbor. Then the leader asks them who is willing to share with the group. 19