Monday, January 16, 2006

Hidden Secrets of the Creative Mind

From an interview in Time Magazine with Psychologist R. Keith Sawyer:

Q: How can the average person get more ideas?

A: Ah, here's where we come up against another of our cultural myths about creativity - that of the lone genius. Ideas don't magically appear in a genius' head from nowhere. They always build on what came before. And collaboration is key. Look at what others in your field are doing. Brainstorm with people in different fields. Research and anecdotal evidence suggests that distant analogies lead to new ideas - like when a heart surgeon bounces things off an architect or a graphic designer.

Q: What advice can you give us nongeniuses to help us be more creative?

A: Take risks, and expect to make lots of mistakes, because creativity is a numbers game . . . Develop a network of colleagues, and schedule time for freewheeling, unstructured discussions.

I think this is a powerful endorsement of what we are trying to do in this project - collaborating with each other across disciplines; taking the time to brainstorm and have lots of "freewheeling, unstructured discussions." But in order to be successful, I need each of you to contribute more, to truly believe that we can change our school for the better - and to follow up our discussions in class with further discussions (in person or through your blogs) and with actual change in your classrooms. We need to believe . . .


  1. I can't emphasize how valuable it is to be given small group time in class just to discuss ways to implement our new ideas and tools. I value the large class instruction as well, but spending even a short period of time with Amanda, Barb, Melissa, and Ray opens up new little parts of my brain. And I know that I wouldn't necessarily take the initiative to meet with them outside of our 21C time, so I hope that we continue to value this collaborative time and to understand that meeting face-to-face with members of other departments during off hours is a difficult thing to orchestrate. The blog has been helpful with this as well, but I prefer to make eye contact.

  2. With the start of school being dominated, for me, by catch up from the start, I've found that I am wanting time with others in 21C that we can devote to some simple mechanics. For example, did anyone create sets of instructions given to students for blogging and RSS that were effective? In our department, we've thrown some ideas back and forth and I have been trying to get students to teach students, but...

  3. Brad, go to the EWL Editorials Blog from our Links and you will see under the Links on this page the handout I made as instructions. Shoot me an email and I'll email it to you!

    Related to your post, Karl, this was so appropriate after spending 2 days discussing collaboration. It is necessary and I was so glad to hearing the conference speakings advocating for less PLC's than more--AND that they should be within content. This is where we can push each other, learn about our weaknesses, and pull from our strengths.

    Groups like our CIT, also, create an environment that stretches me, makes me rethink what I'm doing and why. Awesome!