Creativity is the ability to take on new information and put it together with what we already know.Humans have transformed the world we live in like no other species. People often link creativity with the arts, however, it is so much more than that. To consider what doesn't exist. To rise above our instincts and consider our other options before deciding what to do.
Most animals have the input and output parts of the brain right next to each other, so there's a direct path between the two. There's an instant reaction. Not much happens in between. Our brains are wired differently, we are able to disengage our instinct to see it differently. Input can collide with what's already there to forge new pathways, make new connections... considering possibility based on what's already there. We can process information in limitless ways. The enlargement of the human cortex, the expansion of the prefrontal cortex behind the forehead... This gives us imagination.
Being original is not about generating something out of nothing
Michael Chabon - Novelist attempts to debunk the theory saying there never has been such a thing as a truly original idea. A Pulitzer Prize winner that's not afraid to take ideas from anywhere, he operates on a basis of instead of "how can I make mine different from my predecessors? How can I utilize what they did to make mine better?"
What we create is unique because our life experiences are unique.
It's about getting out into the world and generate new concepts. Take the ordinary and make them extraordinary by putting them in a yet unseen combination. The creative process often involves making something, yet it also has the power to remake our lives.
Ehron Tool - Potter. He was a Gulf War veteran. He came back with a notion to do something different with his life. His creative outlet allows him to create discussion, generate a feeling. It's become a real healing process.
Lafayette Correctional Centre runs a groundbreaking programme by writer Zachery Lazar. His father had been murdered and this impacted his entire life. Upon visiting a correctional facility as a journalist he realised something surprising. He was surprised by a connection he felt to a lot of the people he talked to. He felt that there was a real lack of creativity in the prison. He felt that by harnessing those people's creativity, it could be a way of preventing them from being in the prison cycle. He now works with the prisoners to nurture their creative writing skills. The impact has been described as helping them think differently about things, think differently about themselves and think differently about other people. They are able to see themselves. It's about changing the narrative.
Tim Robbins (of Shawshank Redemption fame) runs acting workshops with prisoners. Often prisoners are defined by their mistakes made and any potential is never considered. By telling them that they are defined by who they are as human beings. The emotions that they suppress are real emotions. Prisoners taking part in these programmes are up to 80% less likely to re-offend.
Michelle Khine of Shrink Nanotechnologies, combined her childhood experience with Shrinkydinks and utilised it to advance science, by creating the tools she needed.
In order to advance science, you need to think about things in a different way otherwise nothing changes.
He blended his idea of lego with preconceived notions of a house. A ski field with perceptions of a building.
Nathan Myhrvold - Bill Gates described him as the smartest man he knew.
Taking ideas from one place and putting them in an entirely different context. He surrounds himself with influences.
"It's always better to be a critic than a creator." Nathan Myhrvold
Creativity is the interplay of billions of neurons sending trillions of impulses. Every experience you have is a raw material for your brain to create with and fashion into new ideas, by bending them into something new.
It's all about refashioning what already exists
Phill Tippett - Animator and Monster Maker.
He has a things and ideas room filled with "junk and stuff I've picked up over the years". He has organised it into an ideas generator. He randomly cut out pictures and put them into a book. He described the feeling of "I got it" when using them. It's an ability to put disparate information together and make something useful.
Robert Glasper - Musician
Jazz is a mashup of other forms of music. All of the forms of music that were around at the time was pulled together and reflects the time it was created in... it's always changing. If it stops changing then it's not following the tradition. If people of the previous generation are saying "You're not doing it right" then you are doing it right.
3 ways we can take advantage of how we are wired:
1. Try something new.Being creative means fighting the instinct of not choosing the path of least resistance. Our brains naturally default to what we've done before. We need to dig deeper and get off that path of least resistance and try something new. For adults, this often translates as a career change. I've heard of the idea of getting kids to generate the first 3 ideas that spring to mind, then drawing a line under them and saying "You can't use this." Specialisation can mean 'learning a lot about less' can transpire into 'knowing a lot about nothing'. To be able to think outside the box you have to be willing to be wrong. You also have to be willing to be right when everyone thinks you are wrong.
2. We have to push boundaries.Our brains are novelty seekers. There's a fine line between exploring the range of possibilities between the familiar and the unfamiliar. Being willing to turn your back on traditional unwritten rules and test ideas that might be considered "wrong". Things that are considered "weird" are things that people are unfamiliar with. If it is considered weird than it is pushing boundaries. There's a spectrum between too familiar and too far out and wacky... its the in-between that is where the magic happens. tp create something that's not too new too unfamiliar but something in between.
3. We need to risk failing.Failure feels awful so we avoid it. The reality is that most peoples successes arise out of the ashes of their failings. Game of Thrones co-creator and writer, D.B. Weiss describes himself as failing very consistently for a very long time. He learned to be less worried about failing. All of the failures ultimately contributed to him being able to do this thing.
A school transforms...10 years ago a Vermont School was on the verge of being shut down. Poor community. Terrible test scores. H O Wheeler. to save the school they decided to put creativity and the arts at the heart of every subject
Learning geometry through the medium of abstract art. When it is integrated it hits more avenues that different learners use to access information. With creativity at the heart of every subject, the kids are learning a creative mindset. They're being taught to get off the path of least resistance and keep trying. It's about teaching them to try their best and to take a risk. It's about developing the process that allows them to interact with the world around them.When can kids learn? When they're engaged. - Bobby Riley (Principal)
When you focus on the arts and the process of the artistic experience, then they are able to blossom in unique and very special ways.
To succeed in an unimaginable future we need to instil creativity in our the children we teach so they can be successful in navigating that world.