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Author Topic: Can you Teach Creativity?  (Read 26379 times)

Schewe

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Re: Can you Teach Creativity?
« Reply #20 on: February 09, 2016, 08:53:16 pm »

Personally I think most people, and most cultures, overestimate the importance of innate skill when it comes to creative pursuits and underestimate that of sheer determination. You can do a lot with a little if you're bullheaded enough and are given the opportunity to be so.

Agreed...and in point of fact one CAN learn to be MORE creative. When I went to college I had to take some liberal arts classes in addition to my photo classes. The single most important class I took wasn't a photo class is was "The Psychology of Creativity". In that class, I learned many tools to allow (force) myself to be more creative...one of the biggest is to daydream about assignments and project and make a list of things to do. It may sound lame but it allows one to focus on something and daydream about how to do something. The second most important tool was to get over the fear of creativity. Children by nature are curious and creative but the social aspects of being a teenager drums that out of you. You then need to learn how NOT to be afraid of being different. In fact I revel in being different. I alway try to find different ways of solving problems and think out of the box.

Yes, I've been creative all my life; art lessons when I was a kid, resisting my father's pressure to get a real job, going to RIT to study photography and...The Psychology of Creativity :~)
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Rob C

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Re: Can you Teach Creativity?
« Reply #21 on: February 10, 2016, 09:30:12 am »

Agreed...and in point of fact one CAN learn to be MORE creative. When I went to college I had to take some liberal arts classes in addition to my photo classes. The single most important class I took wasn't a photo class is was "The Psychology of Creativity". In that class, I learned many tools to allow (force) myself to be more creative...one of the biggest is to daydream about assignments and project and make a list of things to do. It may sound lame but it allows one to focus on something and daydream about how to do something. The second most important tool was to get over the fear of creativity. Children by nature are curious and creative but the social aspects of being a teenager drums that out of you. You then need to learn how NOT to be afraid of being different. In fact I revel in being different. I alway try to find different ways of solving problems and think out of the box.

Yes, I've been creative all my life; art lessons when I was a kid, resisting my father's pressure to get a real job, going to RIT to study photography and...The Psychology of Creativity :~)


You were fortunate to state MORE creative: that's a different bag altogether from treaching how to BE creative.

Your final paragraph pretty much sums up attitudes to photography-as-career at least during the 50s in Britain.

That you gave the finger to all of that, as did I, tells me we were already in the mould, therefore your case - as mine - proves nothing in favour of the 'teaching creativity' lobby... In fact, part of my photographic training, post an almost-completed engineering apprenticeship, meant going to night school for photography, a course I abandoned when I realised the tutors knew sod all about where I wanted to go. It happened the evening one tutor told me that he'd give up photography if his work looked like David Bailey's... I rested my case and walked. Fortunately for me, the works studio saw me as more valuable than the following of its own rules, and I was to remain there maybe five to six years, learning all the time. I find it odd that you went through a period of fear about being 'creative'; I never felt anything remotely like that. In fact I never gave a damn about what my contemporaries thought of me; they meant zilch to me and I expected no more from them. Any artist has to be independent, at least in his head if not in his pocket. The only other opinion I ever cared about was that of my wife-to-be.

Rob


Rob C

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Re: Can you Teach Creativity?
« Reply #22 on: February 10, 2016, 03:17:48 pm »

This should interest folks who are into what top guys do, and why they are tops:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GHsHA87cWe0

Rob C



Telecaster

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Re: Can you Teach Creativity?
« Reply #23 on: February 10, 2016, 04:31:51 pm »

I don't get why some of y'all are so determined to attribute creativity solely to "innate talent" when it's clearly a matter not only of that but also of upbringing, cultural environment and economic opportunity. Absolutism is not only wrong, it's bad for your health.

-Dave-
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Slobodan Blagojevic

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Re: Can you Teach Creativity?
« Reply #24 on: February 10, 2016, 06:57:18 pm »

I don't get why some of y'all are so determined to attribute creativity solely to "innate talent" when it's clearly a matter not only of that but also of upbringing, cultural environment and economic opportunity...

Maybe because it is like pregnancy, you can't be a little this, a little that.

Besides, it is clearly far from "clearly," as the OP article suggests. As a minimum, it is contentious.

How, exactly, is, for instance, economic opportunity linked to talent and creativity? If anything, it would be a negative correlation, hence the terms "starving artist" and "spoiled brat."

Schewe

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Re: Can you Teach Creativity?
« Reply #25 on: February 11, 2016, 12:33:47 am »

You were fortunate to state MORE creative: that's a different bag altogether from treaching how to BE creative.

Honestly, I think all people have the creative gene...unfortunately I think social pressure forces many/most people to avoid being creative to better fit in. Those people who do demonstrate a lot of creativity tend to be shunned initially then finally praised for being creative. I talk to a lot of photographers at workshops who claim they aren't creative until I point out that engaging photography as a pursuit proves that are creative. It often takes them back...and then I get into the fear of creativity. At the end of workshop I see a lot of creative results (and proud newly for creatives :~)
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Robert Roaldi

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Re: Can you Teach Creativity?
« Reply #26 on: February 11, 2016, 07:05:51 am »

Honestly, I think all people have the creative gene...unfortunately I think social pressure forces many/most people to avoid being creative to better fit in. Those people who do demonstrate a lot of creativity tend to be shunned initially then finally praised for being creative. I talk to a lot of photographers at workshops who claim they aren't creative until I point out that engaging photography as a pursuit proves that are creative. It often takes them back...and then I get into the fear of creativity. At the end of workshop I see a lot of creative results (and proud newly for creatives :~)

Thank you. I was going to suggest that it would be useful to hear from teachers and students of "creativity" courses. It would be interesting to hear what the teachers thought they had helped their students discover and what the students thought they had learned.
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Rob C

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Re: Can you Teach Creativity?
« Reply #27 on: February 11, 2016, 10:37:32 am »

Thank you. I was going to suggest that it would be useful to hear from teachers and students of "creativity" courses. It would be interesting to hear what the teachers thought they had helped their students discover and what the students thought they had learned.

Robert, what can any teacher say other than justify his job, such as it is? Yet, as you suggest, it would indeed by nice to hear them go about it.

As for the 'students', they paid their money... few people are willing to admit to their follies.

I think if you watch one of the William Klein videos where he talks about his life post-WW2, studying art in Paris on a US Army grant, you realise that the artist is already there - all the learning-at-the-foot-of does is fulfil the rôle of art school, to which I imagine few non-artists have a snowball's of entering. At least, up until the end of the honest 50s, that's how it ran in Glasgow and Dundee! Without Higher Art and English, forget it; learn about bricks and cement instead.

As far as I can see, this idea about 'everybody can do everything' is a modern phenomenon that's cousin to the ethic that everybody's a winner, that there are no seconds and thirds, and that shame must attend anyone not capable of everything. How silly! We are who and what we are: individuals, with different abilties and failings, each of us distinct from the other, however much we think we may have in common through human heritage.

...............................................

Posted by: Isaac
« on: February 10, 2016, 06:45:23 PM »
Insert Quote

Quote from: Telecaster on February 10, 2016, 04:31:51 PM
I don't get why some of y'all are so determined to attribute creativity solely to "innate talent" …

A way to regard ourselves as special?

................................................


Isaac, that's somewhat forced, is it not?

Nothing about being 'special' at all; everything about being the person we are rather than the range of ones we magine we could be if we but wanted.

I see nothing self-aggrandizing about being an artist (as in photographer): it's no better, and probably no worse than being a musician, a carpenter or a chef. We have to be someone - be the person we genuinely happen to be. As the old man on the doorstep in Michael Jackson's video The Way You Make Me Feel says: you can't be nobody else; may as well be yourself.

Rob
« Last Edit: February 11, 2016, 10:42:37 am by Rob C »
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GrahamBy

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Re: Can you Teach Creativity?
« Reply #28 on: February 11, 2016, 11:12:34 am »

For mathematics, as discussed earlier, it's clear: some people have more innate talent. Others, who have all the advantages of family, environment etc, just never get beyond the basic mechanics of it. They may well go on to be exceptional at something else: there are plenty of very distinguished biologists who are borderline innumerate. At the same time, I would have failed miserably at medicine, my mind just doesn't work that way.

As for whether it all equals out and Jeremy's deficiencies in physics are balanced out by his special aptitude for music, while Joan is tone deaf but is a superbly innovative analytical chemist... well it's possible, but unless there is some higher being carefully doing the book-work, I don't see why it should be.

(A side note: innate ability in music and mathematics do actually seem to go together on average, eg
http://news.nd.edu/news/7096-math-whizzes-do-excel-at-music-but-is-link-merely-a-coincidence/
although that article confuses the issue with whether studying one helps with the other)
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Slobodan Blagojevic

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Re: Can you Teach Creativity?
« Reply #29 on: February 11, 2016, 12:23:25 pm »

I'll share this anecdote from my personal experience. I am too lazy at the moment to analyze whether it supports this side of the argument or that... make up your own mind.

During a marketing course in my business school, we had a visit from a company that organizes creativity trainings for corporations. I am not sure now whether they used the term "creativity" or something to that effect, though.

So they walked into our class of about 80 people and divided us into groups. Gave us pencils, yellow pads, and a scenario: we are a creative team in charge of coming up with an idea for a new candy product. The goal is for each member of the team to jot down a few ideas. After 10-15 minutes, they asked us to show just how many ideas we had on our yellow pads. The average number was about 4-5. Then the door burst open, and a bunch of assistants ran in with plastic bags the size of Santa Claus' ones and started merrily running around, throwing things into the air for us to catch. They were... toys. Kids' toys, to be precise (in case you were thinking...). We were then asked to repeat the exercise, after playing with the toys and passing it around in our group. The result: each yellow pad contained now 10-15 ideas on average. The winning group's idea: Color-Me-Next-Morning Candy. A candy that will change the color of your pee next morning. Hehe... think of it what you will, but the main difference is the sheer number of different, wacky, crazy ideas that resulted from that simple exercise.

Another story they told us: when a group of high-level executives comes to their remote-resort creativity training, all dressed up in designer suits, $200-ties, etc., they are hosed down (sprayed with water) right after embarking from a shuttle bus. Shocked and dripping wet, they are given a change of clothes, jeans and t-shirts, in all kind of wacky combinations, and asked to sit down in a room... with no chairs. On the floor. With plenty of props. Shaken out of their stiff environment, thrown out of their comfort zone, they are then asked to start brainstorming.

Isaac

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Re: Can you Teach Creativity?
« Reply #30 on: February 11, 2016, 01:06:19 pm »

For mathematics, as discussed earlier, it's clear: some people have more innate talent.

Accepted and now please put that into an argument that has something to do with -- Can creativity be taught?
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Rob C

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Re: Can you Teach Creativity?
« Reply #31 on: February 11, 2016, 02:49:59 pm »

I'll share this anecdote from my personal experience. I am too lazy at the moment to analyze whether it supports this side of the argument or that... make up your own mind.

During a marketing course in my business school, we had a visit from a company that organizes creativity trainings for corporations. I am not sure now whether they used the term "creativity" or something to that effect, though.

So they walked into our class of about 80 people and divided us into groups. Gave us pencils, yellow pads, and a scenario: we are a creative team in charge of coming up with an idea for a new candy product. The goal is for each member of the team to jot down a few ideas. After 10-15 minutes, they asked us to show just how many ideas we had on our yellow pads. The average number was about 4-5. Then the door burst open, and a bunch of assistants ran in with plastic bags the size of Santa Claus' ones and started merrily running around, throwing things into the air for us to catch. They were... toys. Kids' toys, to be precise (in case you were thinking...). We were then asked to repeat the exercise, after playing with the toys and passing it around in our group. The result: each yellow pad contained now 10-15 ideas on average. The winning group's idea: Color-Me-Next-Morning Candy. A candy that will change the color of your pee next morning. Hehe... think of it what you will, but the main difference is the sheer number of different, wacky, crazy ideas that resulted from that simple exercise.

Another story they told us: when a group of high-level executives comes to their remote-resort creativity training, all dressed up in designer suits, $200-ties, etc., they are hosed down (sprayed with water) right after embarking from a shuttle bus. Shocked and dripping wet, they are given a change of clothes, jeans and t-shirts, in all kind of wacky combinations, and asked to sit down in a room... with no chairs. On the floor. With plenty of props. Shaken out of their stiff environment, thrown out of their comfort zone, they are then asked to start brainstorming.


I'm not sure what you meant us to take from that.

What I take is this: act like an idiot and it's catching.

Regarding the hosed-down execs: I trust they were not damages lawyers? Or at least, that they found another suit of clothes whilst hunting 'outside the box'.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XetJMlt3-l4

But even with lawyers, seems it's natural talent if they are going to do it well. I remember my granddaughter sitting out on our terrace during lunch; she was what - maybe eleven years old? - and her head, as her young sister's, was ever in a book. When food arrived, she'd decide a topic on which to hold forth, and I'd do my best to pick holes in it. There were usually but two results: she'd achieve victory by throwing me completely off balance by moving her argument sideways, like a crab, as I was vainly and confidently looking ahead in a straight line; she'd get so frustrated with me that her tears were close and I'd get that stabbing look from my wife and shut up. However, that didn't mean she'd lost: far from it; it meant I'd had to get 'blind' as a last, miserable resort! Out of the mouths of babes etc.

As I've recounted, she finished her law degree top of the class, was headhunted and now works in the "Golden Circle" of firms down in London.

Hmmm...

Rob

Robert Roaldi

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Re: Can you Teach Creativity?
« Reply #32 on: February 11, 2016, 02:51:25 pm »

Robert, what can any teacher say other than justify his job, such as it is? Yet, as you suggest, it would indeed by nice to hear them go about it.

As for the 'students', they paid their money... few people are willing to admit to their follies.



As far as I can see, this idea about 'everybody can do everything' is a modern phenomenon that's cousin to the ethic that everybody's a winner, that there are no seconds and thirds, and that shame must attend anyone not capable of everything. How silly! We are who and what we are: individuals, with different abilties and failings, each of us distinct from the other, however much we think we may have in common through human heritage.


Well, ok but, but aren't you then saying that you can't believe what anyone ever tells you then?


It's not necessary to believe that "everybody can do everthing", I don't think. Did anyone claim that? It would be useful if one ended up "better" in some way after taking such a course. It might even be sufficient depending on one's aims and requirements. I make no claim one way or the other, having never participated in one.
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Rob C

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Re: Can you Teach Creativity?
« Reply #33 on: February 11, 2016, 02:58:36 pm »

Well, ok but, but aren't you then saying that you can't believe what anyone ever tells you then?


It's not necessary to believe that "everybody can do everthing", I don't think. Did anyone claim that? It would be useful if one ended up "better" in some way after taking such a course. It might even be sufficient depending on one's aims and requirements. I make no claim one way or the other, having never participated in one.

It's getting closer and closer, Robert.

But within the context, I think both parties are left with little option but to sustain the claim that it works. Or open themselvs to possible ridicule from their friends.

Having said which, as long as the participants are happy, I see little wrong with any of it. I just don't buy into the belief.

Rob C

Telecaster

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Re: Can you Teach Creativity?
« Reply #34 on: February 11, 2016, 04:35:16 pm »

Maybe because it is like pregnancy, you can't be a little this, a little that.

Besides, it is clearly far from "clearly," as the OP article suggests. As a minimum, it is contentious.

How, exactly, is, for instance, economic opportunity linked to talent and creativity? If anything, it would be a negative correlation, hence the terms "starving artist" and "spoiled brat."

Freedom from financial worries & constraints can give you the time & means to discover what it is you're good at and then to actually do it. In photography Lartigue is likely an example of this. Eggleston another. Which isn't to say financial worries can't also be a motivator…clearly they often are. And the spoiled brat phenomenon is a real thing. I've seen it in action. But this isn't like pregnancy. It works differently for different people.

IMO to the degree that this stuff is contentious it's so only amongst opposing ideologues who can't bring themselves to see beyond the boundaries of their respective dogma systems. "Either you exit the womb with your abilities fully burned into your neurons, no expansion or augmentation possible…or you exit as an empty vessel, capable of whatever you (are allowed to) put your mind to. Either Picasso is a genius from Day One or anyone can be Picasso. No middle ground, no ambiguity, no room for further insight!"

-Dave-
« Last Edit: February 11, 2016, 05:31:37 pm by Telecaster »
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Isaac

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Re: Can you Teach Creativity?
« Reply #35 on: February 11, 2016, 04:59:57 pm »

But even with lawyers, seems it's natural talent if they are going to do it well. I remember my granddaughter sitting out on our terrace during lunch; she was what - maybe eleven years old? - and her head, as her young sister's, was ever in a book. When food arrived, she'd decide a topic on which to hold forth, and I'd do my best to pick holes in it. There were usually but two results: she'd achieve victory by throwing me completely off balance by moving her argument sideways, like a crab, as I was vainly and confidently looking ahead in a straight line; she'd get so frustrated with me that her tears were close and I'd get that stabbing look from my wife and shut up. However, that didn't mean she'd lost: far from it; it meant I'd had to get 'blind' as a last, miserable resort! Out of the mouths of babes etc.

As I've recounted, she finished her law degree top of the class, was headhunted and now works in the "Golden Circle" of firms down in London.

Hmmm...

Now please put that into an argument that has something to do with -- Can creativity be taught?
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Schewe

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Re: Can you Teach Creativity?
« Reply #36 on: February 12, 2016, 12:43:43 am »

Hehe... think of it what you will, but the main difference is the sheer number of different, wacky, crazy ideas that resulted from that simple exercise.

Wacky is good...this exercise is exactly the sort of creativity raising activities that is beneficial to expand one's built in creativity. Which I still believe we all have if we can find the ON switch somehow.
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GrahamBy

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Re: Can you Teach Creativity?
« Reply #37 on: February 12, 2016, 03:05:24 pm »

Accepted and now please put that into an argument that has something to do with -- Can creativity be taught?

No.
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kencameron

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Re: Can you Teach Creativity?
« Reply #38 on: February 12, 2016, 05:47:33 pm »


IMO to the degree that this stuff is contentious it's so only amongst opposing ideologues who can't bring themselves to see beyond the boundaries of their respective dogma systems. "Either you exit the womb with your abilities fully burned into your neurons, no expansion or augmentation possible…or you exit as an empty vessel, capable of whatever you (are allowed to) put your mind to. Either Picasso is a genius from Day One or anyone can be Picasso. No middle ground, no ambiguity, no room for further insight!"

-Dave-
Exactly. The original question gets instantly paraphrased to align with whatever the heretical view is within the dogma system. "Creativity can be taught" is read as "everybody can do everything" or "there is no such thing as innate talent in mathematics" or "anyone could be Picasso if they worked hard enough". Straw men spring up all over the landscape and are blown away.

My personal take on the question is that I can learn, and have in the past learned,  to do some of the few things I can do modestly well, modestly better, and that a dimension of "better" is something like "more inventive", "less inhibited" or "more imaginative" or "less conventional".

I see no inconsistency between this belief and my awareness of the long list of things at which I am crap and of the fact that there are people who are and always will be infinitely better than me at the few things I can do modestly well. I think that the improvement is in the end up to me, but that I can make skilful use of teachers to achieve it.

I have found meditation teachers to be helpful and I note some commonality between the kind of thing some meditation teachers do and what happened to the victims/students in Slobodan's example.

I also think that what is true in my case also applies to people with talent. They can open themselves to being helped at the start of their careers, and later, they can get blocked and struggle to unblock themselves. What has to be discovered, and what gets blocked, can be described as  creativity, and they can make use of other people (teachers, whether certified or not) to help with the discovery and the unblocking. I base this belief on the personal testimonies of such people. Wordsworth's Prelude comes to mind as an example of a creative autobiography.

Of course, it all comes back to what kind of thing we understand "creativity" to be. I see it as being something available to everyone and useful in all occupations, but that, to a greater or lesser degree, has to be discovered, or liberated, in oneself, perhaps because it is in some way an enemy of habitual or conventional ways of thinking and of one's personal blind spots and inhibitions. Terry Tao's ability to work across different fields in mathematics might be an example, but so might finding out a better way to work as a team in an office. I don't think it is helpful to treat creativity as a synonym for talent or artistic ability or high achievement.
« Last Edit: February 12, 2016, 06:23:58 pm by kencameron »
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Ken Cameron

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Re: Can you Teach Creativity?
« Reply #39 on: February 12, 2016, 08:04:11 pm »

Surely we are all naturally creative. Our very existence, our birth, and the evolution of our species, is a result of creativity. The body creates new cells continuously. Within a 7 year period, every cell in our body and brain has been re-created, except for those that have permanently died due to aging or other causes.

The relevant question should therefore be, to what extent can we teach people to be either more creative, or less creative?

Teaching, or encouraging certain people to be less creative might be considered necessary in the interests of economic development. Lots of jobs require a strict adherence to existing rules, procedures which can be very unsatisfying for those of us who are creative.  ;)
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