The Learning Process: Creativity: Our Superpower (Ep. 24)

This week, Jennifer discusses how creative thinking makes us superheroes. Our superpower? Human ingenuity. Or, you know, doing what you love and doing it well.

Inspired by “The Creativity Crisis” by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman about E. Paul Torrance and his Creative Manifesto. Also inspired by “Stop Trying to be Creative” by Christie Aschwanden.

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Watch the video here.

I think my current self-doubts are similar to the destructive beliefs we gain from years without creative freedom, security, and confidence. Parents and teachers, get on that. We can’t just wait for inspiration to strike, so let’s get our wheels turning. Let’s help everyone be fantastic sooner rather than later.

Creativity is the “production of something original and useful” (Bronson and Merryman), which calls for 1) forming unique ideas and 2) thinking abstractly to envision new connections and meaning. These are called divergent and convergent thinking.

If you want to practice creative thinking in science, art, culture, or life:

  1. Nurture curiosity by asking questions. Adults may get annoyed by the 100 questions children ask every day, but we need a supportive and secure environment to learn. Fear robs us of many opportunities to grow – especially because fear is bedded in self-preservation – but curiosity is also a strong force which motivates us to grow.
  2. Practice flexibility by slowing down to explore possibilities. When we seek multiple solutions instead of the “right answer,” we adapt. Variety is huge because “creativity requires constant shifting” (Bronson and Merryman). Read books, play video games, build a tree fort outside, and invent fantasy worlds inside. “As soon as you create an objective, you ruin your ability to reach it” (Aschwanden). Instead, “Maintain an openness to discovering whatever arises” (Aschwanden).
  3. Lastly, I believe repetition and association are huge tools for success. If a child is repeatedly excluded from games, they won’t play games. If a child associates learning with failure, they won’t enjoy learning. The same is true for the opposite: give these young guys opportunities to explore and experiment and they will. Give them love and acceptance, and they will build self-worth.

I’m less concerned about creativity improving intelligence as I am with it improving self-efficacy. (The carrot-and-stick technique sucks.) Super-students all too often have way too much performance anxiety and pressure to succeed; instead, I want to encourage students to “know, understand, take pride in, practice, develop, exploit, and enjoy [their] greatest strengths” (Torrance).

This video focuses on working with children, not because I think non-kids can’t practice creative thinking, but because “real improvement doesn’t happen in a weekend workshop” (Bronson and Merryman). You may have read that quote that says “It’s easier to teach a child than repair an adult,” but now that I have worked with both college-level students and infant to three year olds, I don’t think either are easy! For me, it’s not about what is easier – it’s about offering security and confidence earlier so the majority of their life includes those things. Basically, I support preemptive care.

Watch the video here.

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