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Chris Campbell

Teaching Creativity?

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I think this is one of the reasons why Arts education is importatnt at an early age.  We teach our children with right and wrong when it comes to answers. Simple math is finite, one answer. Memory of dates etc only one answer. Laws of Physics, bio, earth sciences-mostly one answer. The children come to learn not to fail, but to geve the answer. In the Arts, there are no real right or wrongs. Analyzing a poem, many answers, writing a story the same. In the visual arts, there are rules-1/3-2/3 etc, but in the end it is about beating, breaking and rediscovering the rules. Students often reach HS without the opportunity to understand this concept, and it needs to be taught to them, but often it is too late.

Funny you should say that, as I was thinking about it the other day.  We look at classes like Math, Science, and History, as being "set" in terms of knowledge.  But even most of those are changing, as we discover new information.  Math seems fairly immune to such changes, but Science and History are being constantly revised.

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What's interesting, is that there is a big push in education now, for students to work on creative problem solving, in all content areas.  Luckily, for the arts, it's just a natural part of the courses.   Sadly, as we've discussed, students don't want to find a creative solution.  They want to get from point a. to point b., in the quickest way possible, and basically want you to hand them a map on how to get there.  I've noticed more students, even in art classes, who feel this way.  They come to hand something in, and I tell them it isn't finished, or won't work.  "Well what do I have to do?"  They do not like to determine themselves, what has to be fixed, or what will make the project more interesting. 

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Thinking more on this, I think teaching creativity is getting the student to not be afraid; to open up and experiment; take a leap; failure is ok. 

In clay, mistakes are cheap, not a life and death situation. Maybe that's what makes clay so much fun.

 

Marcia

That's a tough thing, to get the students to do, especially these days.  Students are becoming more entitled, it seems, and expect near perfect grades for everything they do.  I blame parental expectations/ pressure for much of this.  They don't want to take risks, because that could give them a "bad" grade.  And obviously a college/ future employer will notice that little blip on their grades, where they didn't get a perfect score on an art project right?

 

 

 

I think this is one of the reasons why Arts education is importatnt at an early age.  We teach our children with right and wrong when it comes to answers. Simple math is finite, one answer. Memory of dates etc only one answer. Laws of Physics, bio, earth sciences-mostly one answer. The children come to learn not to fail, but to geve the answer. In the Arts, there are no real right or wrongs. Analyzing a poem, many answers, writing a story the same. In the visual arts, there are rules-1/3-2/3 etc, but in the end it is about beating, breaking and rediscovering the rules. Students often reach HS without the opportunity to understand this concept, and it needs to be taught to them, but often it is too late.

The new format is a little awkward. Not sure about this.

Anyway, my last teaching gig at UTB was a very bad experience. As Benzine mentioned students feel entitled. It had been 7 years since I had been in a University classroom and things really had changed. In a lecture class (Art Appreciation with 100 students) laptops on the tables, texting , cheating with smart phones, rude behavior. I decided I wasn't doing that again.Ceramics lab had this stuff as well but not much the students can do with clay covered hands. Attitudes are a different thing. I did have some great students , but also had some real assholes.

Marcia

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I've heard increasingly more of this sort of thing going on at colleges.  At my HS, before I retired, phones were not allowed in classrooms. these had to be kept in their lockers. If we saw a phone we were required to confiscate it.  The advent of social media/web based media and the prevelence of wifi and other functions make it increasingly difficult to remove distractions from the classroom.   Our district in the interest of security would restrict sites on out web, but knowledgeable students would use "tunnels" to by pass the restrictions. Maybe the creativity has turned to other things, and we are just dinosaurs of the past. I think that this wil integrate itself into society better, but the time of transition is too long. I get tired of over hearing conversations about so and so's face book post, who you are tweeting, whether or not your ex has posted your pictures on some illicit web site. Jeees folks when will they realize that once its out there, its forever.

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PRES,BENZINE,MARCIA;

oops, caps lock on, sorry. Pres, at my high school, we did not see the cel phone epidemic coming, and so we are constantly taking phones away. Our rival highschool has posted signs on the door forbidding cel phone use in classes. I was over there the other week, and saw cel phones all over the place.We now encourage students to bring lap tops. All students in grades 10,and 9 MUST have them. Great for research,but not for clay work.

2.On the question of effort.... we offer two grade 12 classes-40s,and40g. 40s is specialized. 40g is general art. The s's work on portfolios and there is much written work for entrance to university. The g class is basic art with five studio/media projects. I have many talented students taking the "easy" class, and many who have little ability taking the s class because they wnat to believe that they have talent. Difficult to tell a student that they just don't have it. I don't think I have ever done this, but I have thought it. You can't really stream students, but it would be nice to have ONE class of really top notch students.

Unfortunately, a lot of the really top students just don't want the work load expected of them. Very frustrating.

TJR.

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Yeah, technology has led to a whole other set of entitlement.  The students get upset, when they can't use their electronic devices at all times. 

I'll be honest, I've been a little lax on cracking down on the cellphones, in my class, as long as they weren't being a distraction.  I let my students use them to look up images, listen to music and use the timer function, when developing film.  I know there were students, who abused that privilege.  Next year, I will really go after the cell phones though.  We are going one to one with iPads, so all the things, I let them use their cellphones for, they can use those for. 

 

This talk of technology, ties nicely into our discussion of creativity.  As much as the pro-technology people, like to tout all the benefits, having access to technology, especially those that are web enabled, gives students an easy out in terms of creativity.  Why do a little research/ thinking, when Google exists?  Don't get me wrong, I like that studnts can look up source images and basic information, but such access can make other work far too easy for the students.

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Rant:

Univ. level students don't think they have rules. I erased the rest of my rant. But I won't ever be going back to a classroom like that again.

 

However, research and inquisitive minds are really the way of learners. I love the internet and do a lot of research on it.My dear deceased friend, Dr. Louana Lackey, said "you can't be a teacher unless you have a classroom of learners"

 

Marcia

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Rant:

Univ. level students don't think they have rules. I erased the rest of my rant. But I won't ever be going back to a classroom like that again.

 

However, research and inquisitive minds are really the way of learners. I love the internet and do a lot of research on it.My dear deceased friend, Dr. Louana Lackey, said "you can't be a teacher unless you have a classroom of learners"

 

Marcia

You've mentioned this before. Did univ student studio behavor really get that bad over the years in general or do you think it was just that particular school?

 

Jim

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Jim,

 

I can't speak for teaching at the University level, other than my time there, which wasn't that long ago (relatively).  But, as I do see the students, right before they start, I have noticed a change in the mentality, over the past several years.

They are more self-centered, which says a lot, when talking about teenager.  As I said already, they already have a sense of entitlement, which goes a long with that.  To complicate matters, there seems to be more of the "Helicopter Parents" that you hear about.  The parents do so much of the work, in regards to signing the student up for classes, checking the student's grades, and worst of all, doing the work for the student, that when the student goes on to college, they are incapable of adapting to the college format.  So the student struggles, and has to play catchu p, since their parent(s) didn't let them learn how to be a student themselves.  Or, there are the cases, where the parent continues "Hovering" throughout college.  I've even seen stories of such parents getting involved in the job interview process.  Guess what happens to those applications/ applicants?

There's nothing wrong, with want your child to succeed, but it needs to be on their own merits.

 

It's yet another way, how kids/ students are missing out on the opportunity to learn problem solving skills.  "It's easier to just give my child the answer".

OffCenter likes this

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I think this particular school was not too different. many students work and can't put in the time needed to develop.Behavior, self-discipline and respect for the faculty has changed.As my husband says, school is interfering with their lifestyle.They expect to be students but want TVs, computers, smart phones, cars, i-pods, etc.I definitely find it difficult to teach students attached to headsets.

 

 

Marcia

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I started with technology in 1984-85 with Apple computers IIe, IIGS. Wrote grant in 89 that was accepted, started teaching with 7 Amigas in 90 with a music teacher. Things were grand for 14 kids, and 2 teachers teaching experimental music and animation on computers. No internet, until 4 years later, we hooked up immediately, we repaired, did the updates, took care of everything a tech would do. Techs did not understand Amigas too simple and organized. As the years passed and we moved into Windows and more internet, we had to become wary of hidden windows, always watching, learning what to watch for.   The school started to become proactive to forsee the problems coming. I was on tech committee for years working with others to pinpoint thngs we were seeing in the classroom. That was part of the reason we had the early bans, had locked down intenet, and had some of the best technology in the state. I taught several types and levels of adult classes. Night classes at vo-tech where adults were trying to learn new programs-Photoshop, Corel Draw, Gimp, Ilustrator, and Premiere. I felt like I was sucked brain dead when teaching these classes because they wanted to know everything I knew-I loved it. I had the same experience when working with grad students trying to understand how they could use this new computer in their classroom to help teaching even thought they had not big screen displays etc. I taught them to create using printers to do over heads, lettering etc-seems simple this day, but then it was leading edge. We did an awful lot of work on presentation design and use in the classroom. Then I taught undergrad courses in technology in the classroom on the local college campus. People answering phones in class, texting, working with laptops not related to class. First test, 85% failure rate. Jocks in and out of class because of sporting events, all failed. I had already told them that these things would not be tolerated, and so I cracked down on them. Got in touch with dean about sporting events for support for days of non event make up-got approval. They were basically drones all of them, tryong to whislte their way through classes. In the end 25% had to retake the class, but took it during a day time period. A few years later the college hired an in house teacher with MS in tech ed. I was actually relieved to do no more as driving up the mountain was hastle. 

 

My point for me is that the older, more mature students really were there because they wanted to be either for their work, or for themselves.  Photographers were in my night classes because of the rise of digital, they had to compete, and could not learn the programs on their own and still produce product. Others took the Draw courses because their company changed programs, and they had to get a leg up to keep current. Some were there just to learn. All of them worked like crazy, read everything they could on the work, and researched even more.  Maybe these new medias have delayed the maturity levels of everyone.

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Well, technology has definitely delayed, and even caused regression in, the social maturity of everyone.  People use these great technological tools we have (Twitter, Facebook, Texting), as a primary form of communication, as opposed to a supplementary form.

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I co-taught a computer graphics class in 1978 where we had to program a line. There were some good animated projects in the class. Amazing when I think about it.

 

Here's an oxymoron. The Communications Dept. began offering Interpersonal Communication online. Think about it.

 

 

Marcia

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When I lived in San Antonio, Tx I got one of the first Amigas. They were great, then lack of corp support killed a great computer. I was in the computer biz back then, which was the wild west of startup companies in Austin & S.A.

Even back then I felt a disconnect between computers and the rest of life.

After a few years in the computer biz, I took a pottery class in Austin @ Armadillo Clay, quit my day job became a potter and I believe my life is better for it.

Creativity, I don't think, can exist in the rat race digital envirnment we place ourselves in.

There's no time to breathe and absorb the essence of creation, much less expose young minds full of mush to it, in this digital soup.

 

It may be hard to accept but creativity seems to be colatteral damage in the digital age.

Technology may have to take a hard fall before we can get imagination & creativity back.

Wyndham

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Actually, creativity is a hot topic in educational circles. If you can access an educational journal called "Educational Leadership" volume 70 issue 5 February 2013, you can read a host of articles about creativity, how to define it, and how US schools are doing in terms of nurturing it. I accessed it through my college's online library. Happy reading!

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When we make something we are creating and therefore we are creative. Is it originality or the individuals take on something that we are talking about? It doesn't make a difference if we are talking about a cup, or a figure or an abstract form, these are only some of the starting points when we set off to make something. We are makers in our discipline. We are are all influenced by what we see and we are all conglomerations of what we are exposed to and what we expose ourselves to.  As we appropriate something we have seen and use it as a spring board for what we create we are being creative. Where we take it is relative to whether we are just being redundant of what we are starting with, however we are still being creative even if it be redundant or the objects be reiterations.  Again whether you start with the figure or a teapot, you are starting with something that you have some visual and some technical knowledge of, how well does the artists know anatomy and is that important to what they want to express with said figurative piece, and how well does the crafts person know ergonomics and the basic physical applications of how a spout functions and where it should be placed to function or is the teapot more of a vessel for formal dialog or expressing something and not really about the utility of the vessel at all. For instance I have a Brad Schwieger teapot that is certainly not about pouring tea and I have a few Clary illian teapots that certainly are about pouring. The figure is a very old form humans have used to express something and or represent something, the teapot is a fairly new vessel in the history of utilitarian pottery, but it serves a specific purpose of utility and to reinvent the wheel in terms of the objects function is sort of silly. But to use either the figure, a utilitarian vessel, abstract form or representational objects as our modes of expression we should be thinking about what we want to express. I don't believe in talent or creativity as something someone has or doesn't have. These are things that are obtained through practice and research and a constant work ethic. And again we are a conglomeration of visual and technical information and as we appropriate bits and pieces of our knowledge and put them together to make an object we are being creative. Adding more bits to our library of visual and technical knowledge is a great goal and as lifelong learners we can make more and more objects to add to this beautiful and ever growing world. 

Pres and Patsu like this

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Stephen, I think your comments are right on here. I relate even more to this in dealing with the changes I want to make in my approach. I have changed to a darker clay body, and am searching for solutions to glaze depth and brightness while maintaining the rich edges and surfaces of the clay. Research has pointed me in different directions none of which seem to fit my need. So the process of elimination is forcing me to come up with solutions to the problem that are outside of the research. This might be a form of problem solving, or some may look at it as creativity.  Whatever it is, the search has led me down different avenues and approaches that before I had ignored thus expanding my "visual and technical knowledge". If we see me returning to the tan clays then we know that my search was unsuccessful, but the knowledge is still with me.

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I'm a former high school English teacher (12 years), and am now a high school art teacher (my 5th year).  Both in writing and art I have found that everyone can create, but not everyone can be creative.  Those creative people, if they can harness their ability, are truly rare and can charge premium prices for their services.

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I've been teaching for 23 years, English and Creative Writing. In my experience, if I can get the kids' brains to relax and block out that little Critic in their head, creativity is there in every single student. How do I unlock this? Guided imagery, meditation, followed by free writing. Works every time with every kid.

 

Now, some kids don't want participate, and I let them sit quietly reading, so they aren't helped by this. Sadly, they are the kids who would usually benefit the most from the experience.

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We used to call it ""getting into the zone, then Betty Edwards came along and it was "working on the right side". I found that many times a calm non judgmental environment, tasks that would bore some parts of the brain whether right or left, and exercises that stressed the use of visualization, music, and movement would help. It didn't hurt to add in some surprises from time to time-drawing in the dark listening to sounds or music with deprivation of sight and the judgement that entails. At other time it would be contour drawing of very complicated objects followed by freehand drawing of an imaginary machine. You have to play a bit to reach another level.

nancylee likes this

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