Teaching. Creativity. Teaching + Creativity –> Skepticism. And yet, I had to admit that I had tried to use creativity myself in teaching. For example, I had taught a required course for RN’s in statistics — a course that they typically had no real desire for. So, I had tried to make it fun, understandable, and provide a way for them to see how it actually was important in their career and their life. For example, I made cartoons to explain the F-test and to help them remember the steps.
And, even among my teachers, there had been those who were creative and encouraged creativity. For example, in my high school English class, I complained that we were underlining verbs and nouns in meaningless and random sentences and that we *recalled* some of this random and meaningless material. Hence, it would be better to use material that had some meaning to it. My teacher encouraged me to run an experiment and indeed, I showed that people in my class really were remembering these meaningless sentences.
Okay. So, maybe teaching and creativity could be positively related and not antithetical. I thought I would give it a try any way. Perhaps I could learn some techniques for additional creativity. That could prove useful.
The course did not seem to carry a warning label however, that the course material was not just “out there” but “in here”! This course required an internaljourney not just learning about “stuff.” Instead of “easy” assignments such as “write a Shakespearean Sonnet about alligators” —which I could probably do in a half hour, it had assignments such as “write something about a topic that is central to your life.” What? How long? What topic? What is central to my life?!
So…such open ended assignments cause me to go in circles. Of course, I can think of *many* things which are central, but which is the most central? Or, are all these things equally important? And, how much of an effort is it worth writing about it? And, do I write about it now, or do I think about it more first? And, will writing about it cause me to “freeze” my ideas when I may want to change what is most central tomorrow? Yikes.
Despite the difficulties, the course was very worthwhile and I recommend it to anyone who has the chance to take this in the future. A few of the habits in particular were things I had fallen out of and been reminded of. For example, the course introduced the notions of curation and remixing. I had long ago discovered that becoming immersed in a field allowed me to be creative in that field; indeed, it forced creativity. But along the way, by being constantly busy at work and required to do things too quickly I had fallen into the habit of relying completely on what I already knew.
The second thing I needed to be reminded of was the importance of tribe. I have always been most productive and had the most fun when working with a group. Yet, it was always easy to find these and now I am in a position where I need to create one or more.
And, finally, one of the reasons open ended assignments are so difficult for me is that it is very hard to know whether I “won” or “finished” or was “successful.” So thinking more deeply about the concept of “failure” was also really useful.