Bird Droppings October 9, 2020
We are so missing out on teaching creativity
It was another quiet morning as I wandered out, although a bit too chilly for crickets and frogs. Yesterday afternoon as it warmed up, however, several tree frogs visited around the house. The air was still, not a breeze as I sat in my old wicker sofa on the back porch. I listened to the stillness and quiet something about the lack of hum of air conditioners just before we all turn on our heating systems. I enjoy my morning chorus, yet today, perhaps with numerous ideas running through my head, quiet was good for a change. I was thinking about students, and how to deal with issues that are confronting several former students I remain in contact with. I was thinking of my children growing up and the wedding anniversary for my youngest son. I was thinking selfishly about life directions and the future, so many thoughts and so little time.
I have always been amazed at Creativity, and often the lack thereof in some students ’; maybe we strip it away in favor of repetition and memorizing of bits and pieces and then say someone is so creative for repeating exactly what was plugged in during class.
“The principle goal of education is to create men who are capable of doing new things, not simply of repeating what other generations have done — men who are creative, inventive, and discoverers.” Jean Piaget
Sitting here on a quiet morning, perhaps today, Piaget would say people instead of men. I have always considered the idea perpetuated by Piaget’s stages of development in children as they learn as a basis for many aspects of human life. The development of Creativity is a crucial one.
“Creativity involves breaking out of established patterns to look at things differently.” Edward De Bono
Several years ago, my youngest son was recommended for the gifted program in his elementary school. The various testing consisted of achieving beyond a certain point in three out of four areas, and one was Creativity. After he was tested, the person testing commented he went off the charts in Creativity. It is so easy to stifle Creativity throughout our lives we are trained to conform often in ways we never really understand.
“The creative person wants to be a know – it – all. He wants to know about all kinds of things: ancient history, nineteenth-century mathematics, current manufacturing techniques, flower arranging, and hog futures. It is because he never knows when these ideas might come together to form a new idea. It may happen six minutes later or six months or six years down the road. But he has faith that it will happen.” Carl Ally
Years ago, I would read encyclopedias cover to cover, and I always wondered why, why things were as they were, and so much more. As I look at my thinking on Piaget, often time’s children are held back in consideration by a parent or teacher and miss a stage, so to say, in their development. It could be it intellectually, spiritually, or even physically and often not intentionally.
“First, I do not sit down at my desk to put into verse something already clear in my mind. If it were clear in my mind, I should have no incentive or need to write about it. We do not write to be understood; we write to understand.” Robert Cecil Day-Lewis
“Creativity is essentially a lonely art. An even lonelier struggle. To some a blessing. To others, a curse. It is, in reality, the ability to reach inside yourself and drag forth from your very soul an idea.” Lou Dorfman
I see everyday students that have been limited in their ability to achieve. A teacher here did not look beyond a failing grade, due to a reading issue, and labeled that student. A parent, perhaps, never home, never provided emotional guidance to their child. A pastor’s words, perhaps, far too critical, pushed a child away from the faith. It may have happened in stages or steps in the development process and so pushed away or torn away in some cases, leaving blanks, hollows, difficult to fill.
“The legs are the wheels of creativity.” Albert Einstein
“Creative minds have always been known to survive any kind of bad training.” Anna Freud
I agree to a point with Ms. Freud that a creative mind will eventually push through, but when we so diligently hold them back, irreparable damage can occur. I watched a young man working on a project in my classroom; he had been labeled by many as incorrigible and a slow learner. He was working on a project that required much hands-on Creativity; no other student measured pieces quite to the extent he did on this project. He set up templates and measuring guides as he worked, and he was several days behind others not because he was slow but in deliberation and perfection.
“Most people die before they are fully born. Creativeness means to be born before one dies.” Erich Fromm
“Because of their courage, their lack of fear, they (creative people) are willing to make silly mistakes. The truly creative person can think crazy; such a person knows full well that many of his great ideas will prove worthless. The creative person is flexible — he can change as the situation changes, break habits, face indecision, and changes in conditions without undue stress. He is not threatened by the unexpected as rigid, inflexible people are.” Frank Goble
Maybe that is the difference, and that might be flexibility; a creative person is flexible.
“The desire to create continually is vulgar and betrays jealousy, envy, ambition. If one is something, one really does not need to make anything –and one nonetheless does very much. There exists above the “productive” man a yet higher species.” Fredrick Nietzsche
“The person who can combine frames of reference and draw connections between ostensibly unrelated points of view is likely to be the one who makes the creative breakthrough.” Denise Sherarjian
Many days ago, as I was reading Yahoo news, a story came across and as in Yahoo news was only there a brief second or two and a new story more important came over the internet. The movie Rain Man was based on this man from Utah, a Magna savant, a person whose memory and intelligence are increasing as he grows older. NASA had been studying his development. He had read over 9000 books and could pull from them any passage instantly and precisely. He is fluent in and on a genius level in 15 subjects yet cannot dress or find his way home. For this person, memory is all, yet there is little or no potential for Creativity quite a paradox.
“Anyone can look for fashion in a boutique or history in a museum. The creative explorer looks for history in a hardware store and fashion in an airport.” Robert Wieder
If only we could always encourage Creativity. If we only we were not afraid so many times of creative people. If only we would lift up ideas and thoughts and try not to stifle new thinking. I wonder would we progress as humans perhaps, but it sure would be interesting trying. As I think back in history, so often those in power have stifled Creativity wanting to keep to the status quo. It has been several years since I received an invitation to a solo art show, unfortunately, in New York City from a friend. Creativity has kept her soul growing and expanding; some will love her style and art, and others will walk away. I thought back to impressionists who many disdained in their lifetimes and now bring hundreds of millions for paintings literally. Another friend writes, and her writing has changed as she is changing. She went into teaching, and this opened windows for her ideas and flow of thoughts. Working with children tends to make us creative to keep up. A new week and a new season upon us as the cool weather brings color to the trees and stillness to the mornings. I wonder what this world would be like if we taught Creativity in all grades. What if we looked for rainbows rather than entirely black and white? What if we tried to see in a kaleidoscopic view rather than in a microscopic? I wonder but for now, please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts and always give thanks namaste.
My family and friends, I do not say this lightly,
(We are all related)