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Creativity in Education (Introduction)

A brief introduction into why creativity is important in education and throughout our lives- as well as a few pointers on what it is (and isn't!). There's even a few simple, practical things you can do to become more creative yourself.

Derek Jones

on 2 November 2018

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Transcript of Creativity in Education (Introduction)

bother looking at creativity ?
Let me show you
or rather, try to show yourselves ...
have 60 seconds to ...
Why was that hard?
can't draw
If we repeated this excercise with 9 year old children, would they have the same 'problems'?
There are certain behaviours, attitudes and skills present in children that are useful in adults...
Children are different to adults!
It's incredible to think that the ability to doodle (something we do before learning to read) can be so threatening.
less embarrassed
more likely to draw
less inhibited about drawing
80% of children are creative geniuses
is creativity anyway ?
do you teach/learn creativity ?
in education
so WHAT ?
Let me show you
education and stuff
...the coloured crayons, PVA glue, and glitter are locked away in the cupboard and we lose the ability to :
do bald men use shampoo or soap to wash their heads ?
somewhere in here ...
simple questions
why questions
stupid questions
for the sake of it
and break things
and fail
for the sake of it
and find things
to see what happens
Imagine, Daydream
Role play
Sketch and doodle
less embarrassed
more likely to draw
less inhibited about drawing
80% of children are creative geniuses
Creativity is not just making stuff up - it's not just for artists...
Creativity is an essential human ability that can be applied to a wide range of activities.
Some of the greatest scientific achievements of the 20th century have come about through creative processes :
so WHAT if ...
Flemming hadn't
and thrown the petri dish away ?
Crick hadn't
the shape of DNA on paper ?
we at least accept that some childhood creative 'stuff' might be useful ?
PS : None of this is new or even surprising. In fact, this entire presentation is all smoke and mirrors; we've known about all of this for years.
This might get technical ...
contains 100 billion neurons :
1/3 of the stars in the observable universe
about the number of people who have ever lived
(more if it's a tough question)
20% of the body's total energy
more than the heart and lungs combined
uses lots of energy :
is a really complex network :
it's not linear
scale free topology p(k)~k^(-y)
we can only just model a neuron...
(more if it's a tough question)
there are 45 miles of nerves in the body
the CNS is just as important
the cerebelum, itself, contains another 100 billion neurons...
(in fact, some think that the CNS IS the brain)...
it's not just a lump of matter :
"The intentional creation of value."
there's no one, single, clearly accepted definition of 'creativity' ...
So that means I can make it up :
Ken Robinson
"...the ability to understand and express novel orderly relationships."
Kenneth M. Heilman, Stephen E. Nadeau and David O. Beversdorf
The English word creativity and its lexeme come from the Latin term creō "to create, make"
wikipedia (sorry)
"Accounting has also been associated with creativity..."
Creativity is defined as the tendency to generate or recognize ideas, alternatives, or possibilities that may be useful in solving problems, communicating with others, and entertaining ourselves and others
From Human Motivation, 3rd ed., by Robert E. Franken:
Cognitive Abilities
The brain is quite a complex thing ...
because at my first tutorial I had to teach (sorry, remind) 14 adults that it was ok to :
to use coloured pencils
to try
to fail (and learn)
to scribble
to daydream
to think anything
to ask stupid questions
Derek Jones

Break it down a bit
stuff that happens in the brain
stuff that happens between you and the outside
the way you think about stuff
stuff you do as a result of the above stuff
Specialist knowledge
Divergent Thinking
(Novelty Seeking)
as we learn...
the more we do it...
Divergent thinking is the ability to break away from those old paths and look at something in a completely different way.
New Thinking leads to
New Thoughts
(=new ideas)
Before we go on, a quick word on what creativity is NOT
Einstein hadn't
riding on a beam of light ?
interlude #1 : Circles
(this is where thinking outside of the box comes from)
how did you get on with those circles ?
you may have come up with something like this ...
How many did you get ?
Did you group circles ?
remember, the goal was 'as many circles as you can' ...
Did you follow a theme ?
Did you use colour ?
Divergent Thinking
Joining bits ...
...of our brain...
...allows us to ...
...make new connections
This beautiful object wouldn't be here today without the ability to connect.
Creativity is not the same as originality ...
Creativity is the PROCESS of originality.
Until, those paths become...
...we form new paths.
...the more the paths reinforce.
...an embedded habit.
because if you don't use these abilities, you won't be as creative as you could (remember drawing your neighbour?)
For the circles activity, what was required was as MANY circles
NOT as many DIFFERENT circles...
"Quantity, NOT Quality"
Of course - that's not all...
many people don't do this - they want to keep inside the cricle - they do not use divergent thinking.
many people don't do this - they want to make each circle different - they assume that creativity = originality.
many people don't do this because they forget to bring their coloured pencils - some people don't even have coloured pencils!
If you put in the practise, you will become more creative.
You become creative by practising ...
no liability is implied or assumed if the warrantee does not put in enough effort. This WARRANTY only remains in place whilst optimism and an attitude of childlike playfulness are in operation.
Improve your Behaviour
try it now - you only need 4 lines to connect all the dots.
try it now - invent a new word :
try and make the word LOOK like it sounds
Lepper, M. R., Greene, D., & Nisbett, R. E. (1973). Undermining children's intrinsic interest with extrinsic reward: A test of the "overjustification" hypothesis. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 28, 129-137.
Develop your Cognitive Abilities
interlude #2 - Superhero
(or a car)
(or a planet)
(self censorship - you may not have been conscious of it, but some part of you was editing what you were doing: making you 'feel' a certain way)
specialist knowledge
divergent thinking
Cognitive Abilities
Optimism switch
trying and failing
Cognitive Abilities
Optimism switch
trying and failing
specialist knowledge
divergent thinking
specialist knowledge
divergent thinking
remember to use your brain - if you don't use it, it won't work very well
take any few moments you have to do something MENTAL
learn something new
brain training
Practise your skills
Sort your Attitude
optimism switch
trying and failing
make things
Remember that you have specialist knowledge (even if you don't think you have)
Recognise your specialist knowledge
Learn something new (VERY new)
Put you specialist knowledge to use in different ways
Question your specialist knowledg - look at it from another point of view
Challenge your own thinking on something.
Pick something that you know and see if you can work it out in a different way.
Change your Point of View
There is more than one way
to prove
Pythagoras' Theorum
You may not be a car designer, but you do know about cars - even if you don't drive one!
Remember - you CAN change the way your brain thinks. You CAN change the paths in your brain.
Making new connections lead to new thoughts, leads to new ideas - dead simple.
Put two random things together and see what they can become.
Daydream and follow a chain of thought
Wiggle your eyes from right to left to stimulate L-R brain connectivity!
REALLY look at things - it's amazing what you can see...
Carry a camera around with you
Don't just look - try and see
Ask those stupid questions - why, what, how
Don't just think about things - do them (it's no use having a great idea in your head).
Get into the habit of talking about your ideas
Write your ideas down or act them out (!)
Don't be afraid of the reaction you will get!
Get the Lego down form the attic right now
You can play with non-physical things too ...
Create your own thought experiment
How many ways can you cheat in Monopoly?
Remeber what it's like to just play - to try things, fail, and learn from that.
This powerful learning ability serves us well for most of our early years so why stop using it?
When you talk about ideas with others you get new ideas back.
Discussing ideas with others lead to new ideas
Even presenting ideas leads to looking at those ideas differently
Working with others feeds creativity and a whole range of other psychological and social factors (if the group is mixed correctly...)
To generate ideas, you do need to suspend your self censor - not get rid of it (you'll need it later)
it may be a totally crazy idea, but until you experiment with it you have no idea what other ideas it will lead to
Suspend your belief and try thinking about the impossible
You can always switch it back on again
Challenge your analytical side to complete a 'mad idea'
Think about what matters to you and what matters to others
Sometimes, great ideas from thinking about a thing from other people's point of view...
When we fail, really interesting stuff happens in our brains - WE LEARN FROM FAILURE !
Just try things...
Try the cartoon game
Throw NOTHING away - design is 99 failures followed by 1 success!
Remember the coloured pencil experiment? Those children did not use coloured pencils for a week!
The arousal state of the brain has a significant impact on creativity - for lots of ideas, we need relaxation.
Program your brain - then forget about it for a few days
Try the alternative and see how many ideas you can come up with whilst connected to a ticking bomb
Unfocus your eyes, then your thoughts - see if anything appears
An idea is of no value in your head - it has to come out some time. When it does, you need to be ready for it!
Take a camera with you for a week and photograph ANYTHING that catches your eye.
Start using a sketchbook or notepad for more than just drawing boxes while you are watching Powerpoint presentations.
Try using a recorder (most mobile phones do this).
Remember the 3 B's :
"Fail Forward"
"Fail often to succeed"
There is something very special about our ability to communicate - so use it and see what happens
Talk about your ideas to someone
If you have no friends, talk to the wall (seriously)
Try drawing your ideas
Try to create a poster fo your ideas
Try making a storyboard
Daydreaming, imagining, thinking 'what if...' are skills - you can practise them and get better at them
follow a train of thought
Ask 'what if...'
Imagine that things are different
Make your own toolkit :
Try some of these things out and see what works for you.
Put Yourself in Their Shoes
How to Draw
The Weet Weet Superhero Game
Joining Ideas Game
No Words Communication
Design a Phantasmagorical Machine
101 Uses for a Flowerpot
The Cartoon Game
Your Own Worst Enemy
The Design Emergency Game
Make it Better Game
The Leaning Tower of Spaghetti
How to Doodle
What's the Object
Design a ...
Time Wasting Machine
You need to want to change things to be creative - you need to want to make things better or make new things
Physically making your idea changes your thinking about it - when we 'do' we think...
If you are designing a thing, make a prototype of it and see what it tells you
Listen to what your prototypes say
If it's not a 'thing' you are making, you can still make a model - use sticky notes, carboard people, bits of string to connect things
Imagine 'What If...'
Here's one for the Flowerpot Game :
it was a different size
it was a different colour
it was a different material
what is it if you can't see
what is it if you're from a different place
Have a different point of view :
what is it on a bus
what is it in the bath
what is it in your living room
Take it out of context :
Quantity, not Quality :
how many other similar functions of the same kind could it have
how can you make these special
close your eyes and say the first thing you see when you open them
use prompt cards
flick through a magazine
Use prompts :
Create trains of thought
how many items of clothes could it be
or furniture
or communication devices
or tools
Oh, just remember that you do need a bit of structure and process too... but that's for another time.
"Knowledged is limited, imagination
encircles the world."
Lecturer in Design, Open University
U101 - Design Thinking

Let's see...
What is
fill in as many
circles as
you can
What is the word for the smell of bacon?
Or freshly cut grass?
Or wet dog?
...and these are just some examples
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