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Chris Campbell

Teaching Creativity?

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Question for the teachers out there .... Can creativity be taught?

 

I believe you can teach someone to use / trust their creative instincts.

But can someone who is not creative be taught to be?

Or, are we all creative and just need permission to let go?

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Chris;

I think you know the answer. It's in how the question/assignment is framed. I make mine sort of open ended so that there is room for interpretation. You can directly solve the problem, or you can take it on a tangent.

TJR.cool.gif

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Actually, I don't know the answer.

I have seen people so lacking in imagination that no possibilities seem to exist and others who return time and time again to the same answer no matter how you try to frame the question. I have been thinking about this after noticing a seminar promising to teach creativity in just eight weeks. Since I have other things I should be doing ... Of course, I decided to think about this instead! Creative procrastination.

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I'm not a teacher; I'm an engineer. So I'll only offer a personal opinion. From the time I was about 10, my piano teacher tried to encourage me to improvise. Not happening. Some 40+ years later, if it's not music on the page, I can't make it up.

 

Same with ceramics and other arts. People around me would tell you I'm very creative. I know better. I'm a very good, very techincal copiest. I produce good products using other people's creativity. In clay, I prefer functional items, so that's my thing.

 

So I don't think you can really TEACH creativity. If it's there, you could probably encourage it to flourish, but how do you put thoughts in someone's head. I'd LOVE to write a book (to make my million), but I don't really have anything to say.....

 

Alice

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Actually, I don't know the answer.

I have seen people so lacking in imagination that no possibilities seem to exist and others who return time and time again to the same answer no matter how you try to frame the question. I have been thinking about this after noticing a seminar promising to teach creativity in just eight weeks. Since I have other things I should be doing ... Of course, I decided to think about this instead! Creative procrastination.

 

 

Chris;

Now that I really think about it, I have met a few people who are not able to think creatively. This could be because of culture-some countries do not value creativity in schools and do not promote or encourage it. I have had fabulously talented students whom I knew could not persue a career in the arts because their parents forbade it. The other road block to creativity is that the person is emotionally blocked-they are so angry at their family[lack of love/caring], that they cannot think of anything else.

I did have one eight-year-old ask me how to make beige, in an art class. This was a Saturday morning class. I did feel sad for her. I really didn't know how to make beige, nor did I want to make beige.I guess there are some people that will not be able to take the chance on living a creative life. I try my best to change their lives, as I'm sure you do.

TJR.

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I'm not a teacher; I'm an engineer. So I'll only offer a personal opinion. From the time I was about 10, my piano teacher tried to encourage me to improvise. Not happening. Some 40+ years later, if it's not music on the page, I can't make it up.

 

Same with ceramics and other arts. People around me would tell you I'm very creative. I know better. I'm a very good, very techincal copiest. I produce good products using other people's creativity. In clay, I prefer functional items, so that's my thing.

 

So I don't think you can really TEACH creativity. If it's there, you could probably encourage it to flourish, but how do you put thoughts in someone's head. I'd LOVE to write a book (to make my million), but I don't really have anything to say.....

 

Alice

 

 

I agree with you about teaching creativity but I wonder about your estimation of your own creativity. I think creativity is mostly intelligence and I doubt you are lacking there. BTW, the handle on the mug in your avatar is much better than most you see here.

 

Jim

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Thanks, Jim, but I gotta tell you - I copied that from Pres- the mugs on his blog are posted above my wheel.....

 

And I don't really underestimate my abilities. But I don't come up with 'new' ideas, which is how I define creativity. Maybe my definition is faulty!

 

Alice

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But I don't come up with 'new' ideas, which is how I define creativity. Maybe my definition is faulty!

 

 

 

No, I wouldn't say your definition is faulty. I think "coming up with new ideas" is a pretty good definition.

 

Jim

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For 10 years I taught medical residents. Most were very good following an algorithm or a flow chart, working through a differential diagnosis, or developing a treatment plan. It tends to be almost cookbook style thinking. You know the parameters and you stay within the lines. Many had excellent communication and people skills, but lacked creative thought. However, there were some residents that not only thought "outside of the box;" but didn't even notice there was a box around. They were very creative thinkers and problems solvers. They were creatively gifted... They were a breath of fresh air and a handful at the same time.

 

Likewise, in pottery there are individuals who have excellent technique, yet who struggle to "come up with something new." There are others whose creativity explodes all around them. I thing many of us are a mix of the two.

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I have never been able to teach creativity. Simple as that ... I can teach technical skill, but that definable something skill that a person possesses that lets them get that spark of something out of nothing that we call creativity ... nope. You can try to encourage them to think creatively ... but really it's not something that is learned, its what someone has and needs to teach themselves to draw from. it doesn't need to be original ideas and creativity ... but it does need to be an idea, concept or even voodoo summon that gives that drive. I can teach someone to draw like me, paint like me, throw like me and sculpt like me with the same ideas, concepts, mediums and subjects ... but it's technical skill to reproduce me, not to teach my creative process ... I can change my process easily because I spent the time to get there naturally and can evolve from that ... someone I teach to be me has to learn to think like themselves THEN they are able to change their creative process.

 

So yeah, teaching someone a technical skill ... easy. Teaching someone to find their own voice ... next to impossible since you can't think for them ... you can only guide and encourage hoping it leads in the right direction.

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Interesting question, Chris.

 

I think we can teach skills and techniques, and we can inspire and encourage creativity. Good teachers show us techniques and encourage us to find ways to incorporate them into our own designs. Not-so-inspiring teachers demand that we do what they do exactly the way they so it.

 

I have known people who are very good at making superb products according to specifications. They cannot solve any problems which require adjusting those specs. Interestingly, they are incapable of visualizing what something will look like without seeing it. Their inability to imagine what various options would look like seems to render them incapable of coming up with their own designs. They can follow all the technical rules in making an artistic product, but it tends to be stilted and uninspired. I assume this is some sort of biological effect, and that trying to teach them otherwise would be like trying to teach someone who is color blind to see colors they are incapable of seeing.

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I have never been able to teach creativity. Simple as that ... I can teach technical skill, but that definable something skill that a person possesses that lets them get that spark of something out of nothing that we call creativity ... nope. You can try to encourage them to think creatively ... but really it's not something that is learned, its what someone has and needs to teach themselves to draw from. it doesn't need to be original ideas and creativity ... but it does need to be an idea, concept or even voodoo summon that gives that drive. I can teach someone to draw like me, paint like me, throw like me and sculpt like me with the same ideas, concepts, mediums and subjects ... but it's technical skill to reproduce me, not to teach my creative process ... I can change my process easily because I spent the time to get there naturally and can evolve from that ... someone I teach to be me has to learn to think like themselves THEN they are able to change their creative process.

 

So yeah, teaching someone a technical skill ... easy. Teaching someone to find their own voice ... next to impossible since you can't think for them ... you can only guide and encourage hoping it leads in the right direction.

 

 

I agree. I always have students, and even some adults, who tell me, "I can't drawing anything more than a stick person". I tell them, that I could get them to improve, and it's not that I'm an amazing teacher, or some type of miracle worker. Drawing, painting, sculpting, throwing, all skills that are improved with practice. However, even though all my students do improve, skill-wise, one thing I've never been able to help them with, is developing their ideas. Students tend to complain, when I have them work on a still life, or something of the like, to develop technique. Then we graduate to an open ended project, where those techniques are applied to their own original creation, and they dislike that more, because they have no idea what to do. "What should I do?" My response, what do you like, because I can't tell you that.

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Creativity cannot taught. It can only be guided. People join institutes, studies several books and become interior decorators, for instance. It is not that they learn from the books and from the teachers that how they can be creative to make a house look beautiful. But they learn the rules and techniques how to apply their creativity in the best way possible.

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I, too, don't believe creativity can be taught. Encouraged, and if the "student" is willing to spend the time, then stimulation by giving them access to other people's art. But, I also believe there are some people who cannot visualize any project, and sadly I have had two people in my life who could not repeat something you have just demonstrated in a one on one situation. This is more than lack of attention, and I found it scary. Repeating did no good, they just smile, nod their head and say, "Yes, yes, of course." , but never get beyond the words.

 

It's really scary because I didn't understand them any more than what they understood about creating art. The first time, I blamed myself, but in the interim I taught dozens of folks who thought they didn't have a creative bone in their bodies. Maybe they didn't go on to set the art world on its ear, but they found their creative juices flowed freely and found some contentment in making a creative effort. The scary ones would never make it--Synapses closed and that's it

 

Shirley

 

 

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Thanks, Jim, but I gotta tell you - I copied that from Pres- the mugs on his blog are posted above my wheel.....

 

And I don't really underestimate my abilities. But I don't come up with 'new' ideas, which is how I define creativity. Maybe my definition is faulty!

 

Alice

 

 

Wow! Thanks for one of the greatest compliments I have ever had!

 

On creativitiy, no you can't teach it, it can be fosetered, nurtured, encouraged to grow. It takes making people sit back and look at something from a different angle, seeing something with some sort of warped perspective and rethinking what you see into something you want to see. For teaching and students, humor in projects, insightive critiques, open ended exploratory assignments that force them to solve problems can help to foster this creativity. Biggest problem as I see it is that we don't do this early enough. By the time a student get to JHS or HS the drone has been fostered, not the rebel. We need to catch those kids when they are 3 or 4 asking those big questions that are stupid to us, but so important to them and get them to figure out their own explanations, broaden their horizons early, then maybe we will teach creativity.

 

For me, I fall back on that old adage about perspiration and inspiration. I make a lot of drawings, some in my head, some on paper. I take these to the clay, and make changes as I go along. When working on the wheel with a form like a mug, or a bowl I usually start with a lot of "what ifs" that develop a few yeah "we'll go there". Some of the rejects get handles or other things to see where they go, most get slopped to be recycled. Lots of work, not much creativity, but in the end they please ME. The biggest factor in this approach is to know what to save, and what to pitch, always remembering that nothing is so sacred that it can't be pitched.

 

Of course there are others that will define what I have said as "teaching" matter of semantics. I have seen a video by Chris Staley, whom I admire, that says the same things I have said, in a different manner.

 

 

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I too believe that creativity cannot be taught. It's a combination of confidence, curiosity, and vision ... all three of those things cannot be taught.

 

I have learned not to to label students too fast. Sometimes the most creative minds are the ones you least expected. And vice versa.

 

When teaching pottery, there is so much technical ground to cover. Whether a student has their own creative ideas or not, there's still plenty for everyone to chew on.

 

Mea

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I have taught several mediums over my teaching career. I think confidence can be achieved maybe not exactly taught.

The Courage to create was a standard book a few decades ago. I taught exercises from Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain and added some of my own. Once a student gets the satisfaction of creating something confidence does begin to build. As many of the other teachers here, to achieve creativity in students, they must first learn basic skills, then gain the confidence to push the envelopes with the help of nurturing.

 

This is an interesting thread. Have any of you submitted a proposal to NCECA re: Teaching? There are good answers here. There is a panel waiting to be formed. I am willing to help. Let me know. Deadline is coming up and I am off to a wedding soon.

 

Marcia

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I think creative people can be taught or guided to be more creative.

People who are not creative at all will struggle and not get the concept.

I think I am fairly creative, and I think others (teachers) could bring out more creativity in me.

 

Juli

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Hmmmmm. This reminds me of an expressive drawing class i had in school. One of the students was the Aerospace Engineering teacher at the university and a personal friend to the drawing intsructor. Over the course of the semester i saw him really struggle with the various assignments we had. Now, let me tell you that this class was by far one of the best art classes I had ever taken. My teacher, who is the head of the pictorial department, is a wealth of knowledge, technique, and experience and I am greatful for what I learned in this class. Unfortunately, all the interesting, challenging assignments in the world couldnt get him to think outside the box. He just couldnt let go and let the creativity take over and it showed. Long story short. Nope, you can't teach creativity. I used to think you could but after that class, I really saw how it is something you either have or you don't. Some people are really good at numbers, or learning languages and others are creative.

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Hmmmmm. This reminds me of an expressive drawing class i had in school. One of the students was the Aerospace Engineering teacher at the university and a personal friend to the drawing intsructor. Over the course of the semester i saw him really struggle with the various assignments we had. Now, let me tell you that this class was by far one of the best art classes I had ever taken. My teacher, who is the head of the pictorial department, is a wealth of knowledge, technique, and experience and I am greatful for what I learned in this class. Unfortunately, all the interesting, challenging assignments in the world couldnt get him to think outside the box. He just couldnt let go and let the creativity take over and it showed. Long story short. Nope, you can't teach creativity. I used to think you could but after that class, I really saw how it is something you either have or you don't. Some people are really good at numbers, or learning languages and others are creative.

 

 

There is a certain amount of change that can be done in brain dominance though. I remember when I first started teaching I took a brain dominance test that showed my brain worked in the left of center. This meant that I was slightly left brain dominant and an analytical thinker. Several years later I took a similar test, and it showed me off the scale to the right. I don't know how much credence to put in these tests being and educator, but interesting fun anyway.

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Hmmmmm. This reminds me of an expressive drawing class i had in school. One of the students was the Aerospace Engineering teacher at the university and a personal friend to the drawing intsructor. Over the course of the semester i saw him really struggle with the various assignments we had. Now, let me tell you that this class was by far one of the best art classes I had ever taken. My teacher, who is the head of the pictorial department, is a wealth of knowledge, technique, and experience and I am greatful for what I learned in this class. Unfortunately, all the interesting, challenging assignments in the world couldnt get him to think outside the box. He just couldnt let go and let the creativity take over and it showed. Long story short. Nope, you can't teach creativity. I used to think you could but after that class, I really saw how it is something you either have or you don't. Some people are really good at numbers, or learning languages and others are creative.

 

 

There is a certain amount of change that can be done in brain dominance though. I remember when I first started teaching I took a brain dominance test that showed my brain worked in the left of center. This meant that I was slightly left brain dominant and an analytical thinker. Several years later I took a similar test, and it showed me off the scale to the right. I don't know how much credence to put in these tests being and educator, but interesting fun anyway.

 

 

I've seen a lot of studies saying that the whole "Left Brain/ Right Brain" thing, isn't as black and white, as once thought. There are numerous stories of people, receiving injuries to the right or left side, but not losing any capacity, in the areas, the respective side, is said to be responsible for. One of the most extreme examples, is where a child, who was gifted in math, had a condition, that led to extensive damage to the left side of his brain. The did a lobectomy, and removed most, if not all, of the left side of his brain. Afterwards, he was still just as capable in math. The only issue, was a slight weakness in the right side of his body. The human body is an amazing thing.

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I think that if you catch people relatively early you can change or foster habits of thinking and tesch people how to use their imaginations. By the way, I am literate, but lazy and my iPad keyboard will make a ton of typos here that I don't want to go back and fix, so please excuse. Where do artists and creative people get ideas? Is it rally out of thin air? I don't think so. They look around, the notice details, they look at others' art and the art of past cultures and people. So I teach my students to record things like this in sketchbooks. They all choose themes to make art about, and they conduct a ton of visual research and also use primary sources like taking their own pics (so easy with phones now) if anything to do with their themes. His helps thm notice details. I find that the ones who are motivated, and not those who are most creative, seem to make the most progress. I try to teach them how to find inspiration and to recognize it when it happens. There is plenty of variation in how they all do with this, so I don't exactly know if I am teachin creativity or not,but many seem to make progress. Teaching ways to us the imaginations they have is what I hope I am doing!

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I think that if you catch people relatively early you can change or foster habits of thinking and tesch people how to use their imaginations. By the way, I am literate, but lazy and my iPad keyboard will make a ton of typos here that I don't want to go back and fix, so please excuse. Where do artists and creative people get ideas? Is it rally out of thin air? I don't think so. They look around, the notice details, they look at others' art and the art of past cultures and people. So I teach my students to record things like this in sketchbooks. They all choose themes to make art about, and they conduct a ton of visual research and also use primary sources like taking their own pics (so easy with phones now) if anything to do with their themes. His helps thm notice details. I find that the ones who are motivated, and not those who are most creative, seem to make the most progress. I try to teach them how to find inspiration and to recognize it when it happens. There is plenty of variation in how they all do with this, so I don't exactly know if I am teachin creativity or not,but many seem to make progress. Teaching ways to us the imaginations they have is what I hope I am doing!

 

 

Much of what you say here seems to confirm my earlier post in this strand. Good teaching will help students to look around, view cultures, history and nature a little differently. I think this helps to foster what we call creativity. I think that your sketchbook reference shows that you are doing things well for your students-keep up the good work.

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I think that there is a linear path to creativity - not exactly a straight line, but ideas are based on what has come before. Some times there is a eureka moment when the inventor sees an application for something he is working on. The man who invented the Etch-a-Sketch, saw that aluminum powder would retain an image when static electricity was put through an acrylic plate. He was working on a light fixture at the time. Silly Putty was invented while scientists were trying to develop synthetic rubber during the second world war. The 3M company invented sticky notes when they realized that the rubber cement they were working with would not dry.

Creativity is very valuable in industry. You have to be able to see the possibilities of an idea, and not be narrow in your goal.

I do not know if creativity can be taught, but you can teach a search method-the sketch book, the portfolio.

I am currently working on a table top version of cold fusion. I still have a few bugs to work out.

TJR.cool.gif

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