Saturday, 3 August 2013

What is Creativity?

One of the  seesions at Boulder Journey School Summer Conference was about creativity..

"A New Lens On Creativity"

One of the points put across resonated with me... because its SO incredibly important...

I learnt it when my twins were born and I was in hospital after their birth... I got SOO incredibly frustrated with the  nurses there who brushed off everything with a "that's what all babies do"

EVERYTHING was new to me, new to my husband and new to my girls and this blasé approach just didn't fit in with all this newness. In fact it caused problems - the girls got eye infections within days of being born and despite me asking for help and getting the answer "it's common" I FINALLY got the attention I wanted from a doctor who did their check up and wondered why none of the nurses had reacted... it was because it was so common that newborns had eye infections that they never bothered to actually LOOK.

I promised myself then, that should I EVER get to the stage of not seeing the wonder in my work that I either needed a LONG holiday or a change of career.

I am happy to say that I have not needed a change of career - in fact having children of my own cemented the fact that it is with PRESCHOOLERS that my life revolved around - and I certainly believe that it is a lifestyle and not a job.... and I certainly have kept my promise to myself - I see the new and wonderous in everything children do, no matter how many times I see it... which really does make everything so much more fun.

So back to the conference...

They showed documentation of how three staff documented some children working with clay - 2 taking photographs and one filming - the filming was static - filming EVERYTHING that occurred to see IF there was bias in how the teachers documented the children and WHAT they viewed/documented  as creative...

The teacher's realised that their focus was on trying to capture the new, the novel ... the experience that they as teacher's had not yet witnnessed rather than marvelling in the repeated sameness that every child discovers with the same wonder... mentioning how as a teacher there had been the need to present the clay in a new and novel way... but for these one year olds making clay balls and what they do with these balls is creative to them. That by making the decision NOT to do the same thing again and again might not actually be creating a creative environement... it maybe is, in fact, stealing the young children's opportunity to be creative with a material that might be all too familiar with the adult, but is still new to the child...

They realised that as a teacher we should be wiping away our own opinion of creativity and wonder - and see that each child as they discover something for the first time is BEING CREATIVE... and that we should give value to that... not that it is creative in our own eyes - but that it is creative in the child's eyes. We need to wipe our slate clean .. we need to come with new eyes and appreciate the creativity of each child... it makes no difference that it has been done before ... it is new and wonderous to this child and we should partake in that wonder and creativity.

Does adult opinion of creativity hinder children's creativity?

At Boulder Journey School they asked the question "Do art materials hinder a teacher from seeing a creative moment" - as the teachers will be focussing on the art creativity rather than the social creativity that is perhaps happening simultaneously. "Creativity is not just about art it can be about  how to make a friend or to make contact".

It is one of the things that has also stuck with me during our discussions of philosophy with my colleagues... the importance of wiping the slate clean when in dialogue with others... that we do not prejudice the dialogue with our own preconceptions but come open to new ideas, to new ways of thinking... this does not mean you have to abandon how you think yourself - it only means that you are OPEN to SEE/HEAR things in a new light.

I like this...

It reminds me of a lunch I had when I took the girls out on my own to a restaurant when they were still babies...  sitting next to me was a mother and daughter who offfered to look after my girls for a while so that I could eat my meal. The daughter was in the middle of her training to be a midwife... she asked me if I had any tips... I said
"Treat each new mother with the same wonder of you meeting your first baby... that amazing magical moment - if you do this you will make each mother feel special, feel seen and feel allowed to enjoy the amazing moment"

I do the same at my work.. I aim to see the magic in everything children do... to allow myself to be amazed and to enjoy the moment as if it was my first time... to share my enthusiasm but also to share my experience as someone who has lived life a little longer... it's about getting the balance right ... about wonder and experience...
so that my expectations of creativity are never a burden to the blossoming creativity skills the children are developing. I certainly do not want to limit or to form - I only want to guide...

So ask yourself...
What is creativity?
How do you document creativty?
What word comes to YOUR mind when you think of creativty?
AND - how does how we define creativity affect how we work? How we view the children?
What do you VALUE as creative?

If we are wanting to support children to become creative... maybe we should have a better understanding of what the word means... and how it is understood to mean by others...

I feel I will be returning to this... when it is not so late...

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