Just read an article from mid-July’s Newsweek called The Creativity Crisis. (Yes, I know, I’m a little lagging behind.) It’s quite exciting, even though it is reflecting a decline in creativity in children in the US, because it recognizes that there is at least one way that children learn, exercise their ability to be creative, and value what they learn: project-based learning.
We all recognize the feeling, yes? Why do I have to learn this? I’ll never use it. This is stupid. When we feel that way, remembering things is hard, and making use of them is harder. This is true – at least in my experience – of adults as well as children. Have you ever gone to a work-related seminar or training session? Was it useful? Or did it leave you with a certificate of completion but not much else?
If the latter, how much different would it have been if you went into it with a pressing question related to the topic – a project? One which the seminar didn’t quite answer, but gave you substantial information about – enough to engender more questions? The prospect sends shivers of excitement up my spine, because it offers a path from the known to the unknown: our questions (when accompanied by desire and determination to find or create answers) are the real and imagined road from the one to the other.
Here are 2 other hints the article throws out:
- have multiple creative tasks going at the same time, and switch between them when you get stuck on one
- try 30 minutes of aerobic exercise – it improves “almost every dimension of cognition, ” including creativity. This only works for the physically fit (others may be exhausted by the exercise) – but if you keep taking your 30-minute exercise breaks, soon you will be fit, and will get the added benefit of the boost in creativity! Now, that’s efficiency.