Are you artistic?
Nah, I can't draw a straight line.
Are you musical?
Nah, I can't carry a tune.
Can you dance?
Nah, I have two left feet.
I've often wondered what being able to draw a straight line has to do with being artistic.
Everyone reading this entry can use a paper and pencil to draw a house. Some will look like this:
and some will look like this:
I would argue that the difference does not lie in the amount of creativity of these artists, but the level of craftsmanship they display*.
Here's the question I've been asking myself: When a technology allows a person to make something that looks professional without having to master any degree of craft, does that increase or decrease the likelihood of creativity? Or is there a relationship?
It took me under a minute and no thought whatsoever to paste the text in this post into www.wordle.net and have it generate the cloud above. Looks slick and like I must be a pretty talented sort of guy. I can, of course, "create" the same professional looking graphics using a dozens, if not hundreds, of online tools. (Think poster makers, cartoon creators, infographic generators, etc.) I can use the built in clip art, styles and templates in PowerPoint or find them online. I am starting to see the same "stock image" photos in presentations done by Presentation Zen acolytes.
It's the rage to identify some applications as best suited to the "creative" level of Bloom (1, 2, 3). But how much different is giving a child access to Toontastic or Photoshop than that giving that child a coloring book and praising him for staying in the lines?
These nifty new tools we teach our children to use will not guarantee they will produce a product that can be considered creative, original, innovative, or inventive. Period. Creativity will result in the assignment given, not the tools used.
Just because it's pretty doesn't mean it's creative.
*I am NOT discounting the value of craftsmanship. I love people who are "in the box" thinkers:
I don't think most of us want our dentists to be "out of the box" thinkers. I don't believe that when teaching a pilot to fly 747s we encourage a "don't memorize facts, look it up" training. Do we really want the accountants preparing our taxes to take a constructivist route to learning new tax laws? Do we really want an engineer learning how to learn when she designs the bridge we travel over for work each day? Divergent Thinking