Students demonstrate creative thinking, construct knowledge, and develop innovative products and processes using technology. ISTE NETS 2007
The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources. Albert Einstein.
I got the chance this past weekend to visit the new(ish) Museum of Modern Art while in New York City. For anyone in search of creativity, the MOMA is probably the place to start. Lots of works by Mondrian, Warhol, PIcasso, the guy who does all the paint dribbles and drips... The LWW and I also saw two Broadway shows, both just oozing with creativity. Ate in Little Italy and had some creative food. (Even better than the Olive Garden here in Mankato, if you can believe that.) The Cloisters up in Ft. Tyron Park had a bunch of medieval creativity inside in its artworks, outside in its gardens, and surrounding it with a Renaissance Festival with many creatively dressed persons. It was a weekend to basically revel in the creativity of others. NYC is just that kind of place on about a thousand levels.
I want to test the hypothesis that, if teachers discovered their own creativity, based on the strengths of their "multiple intelligences" profiles, by learning to express that creativity through some "digital art" they don't know about with iLife or the read/write web, then my hope/hunch is this: their excitement at unlocking their own creativity will gradually trickle down into their instruction.
Clay's idea is a really interesting one. Can we hook teachers on technology by tapping into their "inner" Stienbeck or Mozart or O'Keefe?
All this started me reflecting a bit about creativity in schools and education and technology and listing a few concerns:
Concern 1: Creativity isn't always about art. I tend to appreciate creative problem-solvers, as much or more, as those folks who are creative in a more "artistic fashion." Or maybe I should extent 'art" to dealing with people and situations in new and effective ways? The creativity I admire most, especially in my staff, is simply figuring out a way of accomplishing a task in a better way. Or dealing effectively with a problem - mechanical or human. I hope we never narrow what constitutes a "creative" endeavor.
Concern 2: Creativity must be accompanied by craft and discipline. Most of us when we look at a Jackson Pollock (yes, I do know his name), usually think something like, "Geeze, give a) a monkey, b) a little kid, or c) me a can of paint and I can make a painting like that." You'd be wrong. Even abstract artists understand balance and tone and just plain exhibit great craftsmanship/technical skills. The most original written ideas in the world are inaccessible when locked behind faulty grammar, spelling, syntax or organization. GarageBand will not cure a tin ear. Too many folks, kids especially, think that sufficient creativity will overcome a lack of skill or need for discipline or necessity for practice. Creativity unaccompanied by drive, self-discipline or just hard work and practice ain't worth a lot.
Concern 3: The world is not really interested in your art, but that's OK. Real talent is given to a very few. The rest of us sort of plug away, mostly to please ourselves. I had a couple ancient, maiden aunts who painted what even I as child knew were grotesquely odd versions of things like the Mona Lisa or a badly listing landscape or the portrait of a favorite dog - or maybe it was a cat. Some works hanging about their house may even have been paint-by-number kits. But I think they got great pleasure from the creative process. And they didn't insist on making others look at their work or try to sell it. Neither should you.
Concern 4: If we ask students to demonstrate creativity or innovation, we need some tools to determine whether they have done so. Like pornography, I don't think I can define creativity, but I think I know it when I see it. But that won't cut it in the assessment world. As much as I admire ISTE for including creativity as one of their student tech skill standards, I am not sure it is fair to hold students to account for mastering it - if we can't describe what it looks like, provide models, and be able to somewhat objectively determine whether a kid can "do" creative.
To all the creative people out there - keep up the good work! But no, I don't want to read your novel or watch your interpretve dance. Sorry.
Oh, somehow I discovered a really "creative" way to delete the entire contents of my e-mail inbox yesterday, so well, I've yet to recover it. If you are waiting for a response from me about something, you might send me a reminder. Thanks, Doug