Monday, April 02, 2007
Developing the creative habit.
Students need in depth experiences to learn the creative habit.
All creative artists know that creativity is the result of good work habits; that to achieve success requires discipline and practice.
One of the hardest aspects is starting, says creativity expert Robert Fritz, 'this is where we are most at peril of turning back, chickening quit, giving up, or going the wrong way.' Successful artists often develop strict routines to avoid putting creativity to one side.
There are moments of inspiration no doubt but most creativity is not a product of inspiration but what Fritz calls, 'a state of mind'. What really counts, he says, ' is the habit of creating when you don't feel like it, creating when the circumstances are not quite right, creating no matter what else is going on in your life.'
When Robert de Niro was asked what makes a great actor he replied, 'You've got to practice.' He goes on to say it takes real work to 'become' the part you are to play. So it is evident that the creative process takes practice rather than something one tries from time to time - it is more a way of life. 'Creating begets more creating', and, 'it doesn't matter what the subject matter is, be it a dance, a dramatic performance, or a life,' says Fritz.
If we really want to develop creative talented citizens with minds open to new ideas then schools would need to change dramatically and place developing a disciplined creative habit in all students at the centre of all they do. Creative people are able to live with a creative orientation rather than simply responding to prevailing circumstances.
The so called basics are obviously important but they must only be seen as important foundation and not the total focus of schooling. Someone ought to pass this idea on to John Keys , the Leader of the Opposition in New Zealand, whose latest plans to focus on testing literacy and numeracy seem to be leading us to the anti creative 'league tables' of the UK and testing mania of the USA.
Creativity is also required in mathematics and literature but it cannot be developed by an emphasis on a judgemental comparative testing programme. More worrying are the side effects ( seen in both the US and the UK) of such testing regimes leading to formulaic teaching and a narrowing of the curriculum which usually meaning a pushing out of creative subjects. As we enter a creative era this would seem a stupid step.
Creativity is an ideal way to help students learn to deal with failure and to learn from it. Mastery of any process takes time and we only get better as we practice our talents.
Creativity also 'teaches' that we are all different ( whereas testing compares everyone against the norm) and schools, if they were creative, should help each person find his or her own way of learning. This must be what is meant by 'personalised learning'?
Creative people don't get sidelined worrying about process ( another emphasis seen in too many of our schools). Creative people want to create something. They are always in some sort of 'creative tension' trying to realise what it is they are setting out to achieve using whatever circumstances come their way. They are in, what Fritz calls, 'a learning mode, ready to take failure and success as experiments to use as the foundations for future creating'. They are both detached and involved - immersed and able to step back to see how things are going. The ability to step back is the product of true involvement and is focused on tine creation not the creator.
It would be great if politicians appreciated that this creative learning habit is what learning is all about - not students achieving achievement levels or passing tests. But I guess it gets votes appealing to those who like simplistic answers to complicated problems.!
No wonder I can't think of any schools that are truly based on talent development and creativity.