Creativity – Making It More

September 7, 2010

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. 

Dance, Partners

October 3, 2009

We danced that one time,
(was it Salsa?)
taking turns with the roles
naturally curious, both of us explorers.
Then talking as we drove home
reflections on the instructor, the other students, ourselves.
“I’m surprised…following was better for me.”
A clear contradiction to my normal way in the world.
And you?
Leading came with such grace – we both felt it.
Sometimes a yes is so clear, the question ceases to exist
(serving only to birth more questions)
This one stands before me now:
how is it that your lead, my follow, is our most awkward movement?
(something so natural – why are we so damn bad at it?)
Is it as simple as inexperience?  as pathological as resistance?
are we hopelessly mismatched despite all our dreams?

There is no escaping the demand for our mastery:
your expertise, your desires, your boundaries, your vision,
each day asks only more.
[It’s so tempting to think:
I could follow if only you would…]

But back to Salsa (or was it a Rumba?)
What did I learn?
…seek my excellence in the steps that are mine
…be substance to your flow (that’s how we are form)
…ask only this:  what is this beauty we create?
Curiosity, exploration – there is no other way.
How do I remember this now
with deadlines and anxieties
and the misdirections of my mind?

If the deadlines are the tempo
and our goals are the beat
and you are the lead
how do I know my part?

Those dance lessons…they weren’t Tango or Foxtrot or Waltz.
(or did we waltz, for just a bit?)
But the lessons – what were they?  Samba maybe?
I cannot recall.

But that day –
that day I knew.
And that day – we danced.
Once again, the lesson is the same:  it helps to know intent.
(It’s the music that’s the cue.)