Tag Archives: creativity

The Creative I: Defining Creativity

Creativity: such a subjective term that  causes quite a problem of definition.  Reading through Punya Mishra, Danah Henriksen & the Deep-Play Research Group’s article entitled “A NEW approach to defining and measuring creativity: Rethinking Technology & Creativity in the 21st century,” had me questioning and wondering why it is so difficult to define what is “creativity” or what being creative actually looks like. “A creative solution is NEW, i.e. it is Novel, Effective and Whole or creativity is a goal driven process of developing solutions that are Novel, Effective and Whole,” (Mishra, et. al., 2013, p. 11).

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Shane Konte at his Art Show on 6/3/17 at BrassWorks Gallery in Portland, OR. Source:Facebook

To further understand and define creativity, I interviewed my friend Shane Konte who is an artist (and in my opinion, all around creative person) who currently resides in Portland, OR, a major hub for creativity, art and talent. Through our conversation I found out that Shane has always had a knack for being creative and that he felt that it was something that was innate, passed on through genetics.  His mother, to this day, is “crafty,” and does a lot of sewing.  During his high school career, he won several Scholastic Art competitions and as a young adult he has been drawing, tattooing and now currently painting as part of his income.

 

I asked Shane how he would define creativity and he said this: “I think creativity is being able to come up with ideas that aren’t the mainstream and apply it in ways that are unique and captivating to other people.”  And when I asked him what inspires him to be creative he said, “I like doing things that other people haven’t done and I like finding ways to do things that other people have done but do them in a different way. I like the fact that I am able to create things because it makes people happy. When I do my paintings it’s very rewarding to know that I made something that was unique and one of a kind, and that someone smiles when they see it — they really cherish it.”

Shane also states that to be creative, you should be open to every idea you come up with. “I would even say in an entrepreneur type-approach, just seek new ideas. Even if the first idea out of your mouth is not something that would be successful or be turned into something – that idea could always spark and grow into another idea that could be the success or solution to something that you’re looking for.  So, I think creativity comes down to not necessarily questioning yourself, but also being confident. In order to express yourself in a creative manner you have to be confident because you’re probably pushing the norms in a lot of ways,”he said. “You have to be ready for people to judge you and say ‘no, I’m not okay with that.’  That can be a real personal thing. So just having the confidence and encouraging your students (for example) to speak up and have new ideas and be open-minded to those ideas, because everyone has good ideas and they come from somewhere.”

His final tips or advice to people who feel like they lack creativity, such as myself was to: “basically allow yourself to be open, allow yourself to be confident, and encourage others to do the same.” He also said, “take a risk and don’t second guess yourself. Keep it simple. Take the dive and try something out because that’s the only way something is going to change and things will go anywhere.”

I normally don’t ask Shane about his creativity or what inspires him, I usually just look at his work in awe and tell him that “I wish I could do that!” This assignment inspired me to think about my classroom and how I can take his advice to heart.  His points about brainstorming ideas and being more open-minded to them is something I’d like to incorporate.  

In my professional life, I think that I normally second-guess my initial thought process and I don’t have a lot of confidence in the ideas that I come up with. I want to turn that mentality around and push myself to take on a new idea for my class and test it out.  The worst thing that can happen is that it flops and we are back to ground-zero and I have to re-teach the topic (or unit).

In my personal life, I’d like to try picking up a new artistic hobby — maybe drawing or painting and just push myself to create the first thing that comes to mind and not second-guess it. Just let it flow and be open to others’ opinions after creation rather than be my harshest critic and scrap the creative process entirely.

Check out Shane’s work here: https://www.etsy.com/shop/HairyMonkeyBoy
Source:

Mishra, P., Henriksen, D., & the Deep-Play Research Group (2013) A NEW approach to defining and measuring creativity. Tech Trends (57) 5, p. 5-13.

Pattern Activity: Recognizing the pattern of Human Struggle in Latin Art

Recognizing and forming patterns through the topic of Latin Art this week was a challenge as I was considering what the true definition of patterning means.  To me, patterning is the development of similar ideas or guidelines in a specific construct, based on previously created schemas or biases.  According to Robert and Michèle Root-Bernstein’s “Sparks of Genius: The 13 Thinking Tools of the World’s Most Creative People,” a pattern is “…a repetitive form or plan,” and that to “…perceive a pattern means that we have already formed an idea of what’s next,” (Root-Bernstein, 1999. p. 92).

Prior to this class, recognizing patterns within Latin art was not an element (or “spark,”) that I focused much on with my students when finding connections (or discussing) pieces of artwork. Because Latin Art is a sizeable topic, I can say that finding a patterns within this topic can be quite the feat to conquer.  Previously to this course, I have introduced my students to some Andean traditional art (specifically art created by Indigenous people of Ecuador, Peru or Chile) and show them the intricacies and elaborate color schemes of these pieces. I’d have students point out things that they recognized in the work and then we’d talk about them as a group and eventually I’d give my students an opportunity to create their own similar art but in drawing form.  Students usually point out the pattern formations that they noticed – both in color and in shape.  For example, in the following Peruvian woven textile, here is a dualistic pattern of two serpents:

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Source.

In the above piece, students would point out the double pattern on each side (both top and bottom, as well as side to side), which is specific to dualistic art.

Or here’s a Peruvian Wari Tunic, again showing us a continual pattern both in color and geometric shape:

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Source: https://www.ancient.eu/image/3959/

I think there is a point in discussing Andean art in the class, because it allows students to see the consistency of pattern creation across a traditional culture in South America.  When my students get that opportunity to create their own (or mimic) traditional Andean art, they enjoy the simplicity of setting up a very visible pattern and then providing a pattern of color in it as well.  

Although I show my students traditional art, I personally find more modern Latin art to be more entertaining and interesting for the fact that it is more communicative and represents something much larger than the paintings/drawings themselves.  It communicates to the viewer information about the time period of when it was created and also emotes the feelings and sentiments of the artist and/or the Latin people portrayed in the art.

As I was thinking about finding and forming patterns in this module and doing my research on modern Latin art work, I noticed a recurring theme or rather a pattern for viewers to be able to feel and understand the human struggle during the 20th and 21st centuries for Latinos. This same pattern continues to present day Latin art, which even rolls over to Mexican-American (or Chicano) artists today who portray the modern day struggle through their art work (including graffiti murals and paintings).

The pattern of portraying human struggle in latin art isn’t as obvious as the patterns in color and shapes, like that of the Andean traditional art.  In fact, it wasn’t until I was doing research on different Latin artists that I came across this pattern.  I noticed that many pieces of art were portraits of people using darker-toned colors (blacks, browns, deep reds, navy, etc.) and showed a story.

Tasking my students to identify patterns, I would show them something like this ThingLink I created with different pieces of Latin artwork:

https://www.thinglink.com/scene/972883903670910978

With my students, I would keep this pattern of the human struggle in the back of my mind, but I wouldn’t mention it to them at first. I would show them different pieces of Latin art (by different artists) and ask them to describe what they see in each painting.  From there, I would task them to get in small groups and use their senses to first perceive (use all of their senses) the painting and write that down.  Then I’d ask for them to find a pattern – I’d ask them:

  1. What similarities do you see in each of these paintings?
  2. What differences do you see in each of these paintings?
  3. Is there a notable pattern that you have found?
  4. Do you see any emotional connection to these paintings?

After working in small groups, we would get together as a large group and discuss the recognizable patterns that are easier to find (such as color similarities), and then through that discussion, I’d hope eventually someone would turn out a response about the human struggle pattern. If not, I would allude to it or ask probing questions to get to that response.  From there, I’d give my students an opportunity to relook at those paintings and see if they can find that pattern and denote what elements clue into the pattern of human struggle; what colors, what expressions, what shapes or what images within entire painting as a whole allude to that pattern? This way they can not only interact on a deeper level with the painting but also grasp a historical perspective of Latinos at the time in which those paintings were created.

Source:

Root-Bernstein, R. S., & Root-Bernstein, M. (1999). Sparks of Genius: The Thirteen Thinking Tools of the World’s Most Creative People. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin.

 

The Value of a Good Information Diet

Understanding the importance of one’s own Information Diet can help navigate through the wondrous perils of the 21st century.  As an information consumer it is important for me to educate and understand how the algorithms of social media and the world wide web present information to me daily.  More importantly, understanding affinity spaces and filter bubbles created by these algorithms can not only help me make more informed decisions daily, but also be able to pass this general knowledge to my students as they are consumed with technology and information almost every moment of their young adult lives.

This week in CEP 812 our focus is on our own Information Diet. I watched the YouTube video of Henry Jenkins discussing Participatory Culture and how we make content both in person and online to share our creative ideas or opinions.  In this video Jenkins asks the question: “How do we grow from our participatory culture to participating in our political and civic structures?”  By addressing this, he is hoping that consumers and creators will take what they are reading, learning, doing and creating online, and find ways to become more engaging, not just for themselves, but for a larger, mass audience.  His example about using Wikipedia in the classroom, is a great way that teachers can support using online community-driven resources to teach and participate with others who are interested in similar ideas (or books, projects, etc).

In James Paul Gee’s (2013) book, The Anti-Education Era: Creating Smarter Students Through Digital Learning, Gee talks about filter bubbles and how the internet, based on the interests we share online, create filters (or algorithms) to only show us information that we would be interested in.  For example, even if you don’t share what political party you are affiliated with Facebook, the company still will label you as a specific political affiliate based on the stories you share and/or the public figures and pages that you follow.  From there, Facebook will be more likely to only show you stories from specific political parties or share advertisements with you based on the political label you are associated with.

Even with all of these filter bubbles already established by the Internet, we then have our own “confirmation bias,” where we seek out information that would support and confirm our own beliefs; potentially ignoring anything that isn’t what we agree with.

Beyond the participatory culture that we have, the filter bubbles that have been created for us and our very own confirmation bias, some may worry that all of this constant information we are exposed to online may negatively impact how we are able to create and think daily.

I think that it is possible that we have already been consuming quick facts and bits of information constantly, especially with the invention of the SmartPhone, we are constantly bombarded by information every moment we touch the phone.  And those quick bits of information aren’t necessarily accurate, nor are they real.

Looking at my own behaviors and that of my students, the moment we get a notification to our phones, we automatically reach for the phone to start consuming. And whether we want to or not, we have our own biases and filters to the information that we are given. The wicked problem I face as an educator is what are the limitations and expectations of the Information Diet my students (and myself) experience daily and how can I help my educate my students to be better consumers (or thinkers) when they are accessing this information online?

Thinking about my own Personal Learning Network (or PLN) of other educators that I interact with regularly, I think this directly effects how I not only receive information, but also share information. As soon as I receive information that I think will change or make my job as an educator more difficult, I immediatley share it on Facebook, Twitter and/or in-person.  Normally that information is coming directly from my filter bubble of liberal mindsets and that may not always be a reliable source. 

Not only did I really enjoy all of the readings and videos presented this week in class, but it really forced me to think about what information I consume daily.  Thinking about it, I went immediately to Twitter and looked at everything that I have been following.  Mostly educators, technology enthusiasts and the like — and I thought about who and/or what I could follow to open my eyes to other people or companies to follow that may not necessarily be something that would follow regularly.  I added our current Education Secretary, Betsy DeVos, as I don’t agree with her strategies at the moment and also added twitter accounts that specifically post about being both for/against Core Curriculum standards.  I am a huge advocate of Apple’s platforms, so I decided to also follow other platforms like Google’s Android and Microsoft’s Windows Twitter as well.

I did the same thing with my RSS feed, adding more news feeds that don’t necessarily follow the same educational and political viewpoints that I currently hold.  For example, adding Fox News, the National Education Association and various feeds that talk about No Child Left Behind. I also deleted a few feeds, like Huffington Post, as I have found out through previous HuffPost journalists that the organization mostly focuses on “click-bait,” rather than accuracy.

I also tried finding blogs and articles from sources that don’t agree with the Foreign Language learning requirement of high school students in the state of Michigan — seeing as that is more specific to my current career.

After adding these sources to my own infodiet, I think this will help me have more of an open mind (and filter bubble) as I research my Wicked Problem Project (or WPP), as well as how I interact directly with my PLN.  Having a wide range of viewpoints (both conservative/liberal and or for/against) on topics involving education will allow me to think about my WPP with an open-mind (maybe even with a blank canvas).  It will also allow me to be more open with what information I take in and force me to gather and share different perspectives and viewpoints with my professional learning network . Ultimately this will allow me to be more realistic (and accurate) with my own inquiries and solutions as I navigate through my wicked problem project on rethinking teaching. And in turn, as I work with my Think Tank for this project, my partners will also become a part of my PLN.

Check out some of what I found on my Storify:

https://storify.com/deutchteachtech/the-nutritional-value-of-my-info-diet

 

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Image created on Pages. Twitter image from Google Search. RSS Feed image from Google Search.

 

 

Source:

DMLResearchHub. [DMLResearchHub].  (2011, August 04). Media Scholar Henry Jenkins on Participatory Culture and Civic Engagement [Video file]. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/ZgZ4ph3dSmY

Gee, J. P. (2013). The anti-education era: creating smarter students through digital learning. New York City: Palgrave Macmillan.

Merrill, J. B. (2016, August 23). Liberal, Moderate or Conservative? See How Facebook Labels You. Retrieved September 21, 2017, from https://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/24/us/politics/facebook-ads-politics.html?mcubz=1

Igniting Questioning in the Classroom

 

quote-the-mere-formulation-of-a-problem-is-far-more-essential-than-its-solution-which-may-be-merely-a-albert-einstein-373741
Source: http://izquotes.com/quote/373741

 

Moving forward into week 2 of CEP 812, I read through the first two chapters of Warren Berger’s (2014) book, “A More Beautiful Question.”  Berger, a journalist, decided to understand more about “the power of inquiry,” as he discovered that for many people, “their greatest successes — their breakthrough inventions, hot start-up companies, the radical solutions they’d found to stubborn problems — could be traced to a question (or a series of questions) they’d formulated and then answered,” (Berger, 2014. p. 1).

I too understand the inquiry that goes into journalism and felt connected to Berger when he was sparked to follow through on this topic after discovering it from a completely separate project he was working on. As an educator, I can agree to an extent his questioning of the current U.S. education system in that students are forced to sit still for hours at a time and have all of the right answers. “…Many educators and learning experts contend that the current system of education does not encourage, teach, or in some cases even tolerate questioning,” (Berger, 2014. p. 46).

Berger interviews Harvard’s Tony Wagner, who explains that:

“‘Somehow, we’ve defined the goal of schooling as enabling you to have more ‘right answers’ than the person next to you. And we penalize incorrect answers. And we do this at a pace — especially now, in this highly focused test-prep universe- where we don’t have time for extraneous questions,’” (Berger, 2014. p. 46).

This, in particular, is what got me thinking about the school that I currently teach at.  I teach at a charter high school in Detroit where the majority of our students are reading at an elementary (some at a middle school) level.  We are constantly bombarded by tests, this year alone, we have already scheduled our students to take the NWEA test four times, ANET testing four times, SAT, Work Keys, MSTEP (and I’m sure there are more tests that I am forgetting).  We are constantly pushing our students to work toward exams and offer incentives to students who test well and achieve high scores. I feel this takes away many opportunities for our students to be creative or more inquisitive in their classes because they are expected to remember facts for a test. And when a teacher’s “effectiveness” rating is tied to the students’ test scores, I think that there are times when many educators feel bombarded and/or rushed to not only teach the curriculum but also get students caught up on the previous curriculum that they are so behind in.

In the second chapter of Berger’s book, he asks the question: “If we’re born to inquire, then why must it be taught?” He discusses the Right Question Institute and their involvement in helping educators and businesses teach their students (or employees) how to ask questions and how to evolve their thinking through questioning.  This section was the most impactful for me because it had me thinking about my own classroom, and gave me ideas on ways that I could impact the students I teach daily.

I am quite grateful that I am a Spanish teacher — technically a required elective class— so I feel I can be more creative activities with my students. The “Question Formulation Technique,” from Dan Rothstein and Luz Santana’s Right Question Institute is something I’d like to incorporate in my own classroom. It allows students who normally sit in pairs (or groups) to ask questions (rather than answer them).

The program designed for K-12 classrooms goes like this:

1. Teachers design a Question Focus (Q-Focus).

2. Students produce questions (no help from the teacher; no answering or debating the questions; write down every question; change any statements into questions).

3. Students improve their questions (opening and closing them).

4. Students prioritize their questions. They are typically instructed to come to an agreement on three favorites.

5. Students and teachers decide on next steps, for acting on the prioritized questions.

6. Students reflect on what they have learned.

(Berger, 2014. p. 65)

I think incorporating activities like this into my Spanish class will give ALL students an opportunity to participate (because they’re not required to KNOW facts), and it will allow them to participate more in how they are learning (and even what they are learning).  It will also provide them the necessary support to know how to formulate questions that will get them to solutions in the long-run.

As educators, it is our goal to help our students continually grow and if we prevent them from understanding how to question more openly and freely to find new ideas, we are doing them a disservice (more so than when we don’t teach them straight curriculum facts).

Ever wonder how to ask the right question? Check out this video from Hal Gregersen during a TEDxYouth Talk about people can learn how to ask questions to navigate the challenges of today.

 

 

Sources:

Berger, W. (2014). A more beautiful question: the power of inquiry to spark breakthrough ideas. New York: Bloomsbury.

iz Quotes.  (2017). Albert Einstein Quote. [Online image].
Retrieved September 17, 2010 from http://izquotes.com/quote/373741

TedxYouth. [TedxYouth]. (2013, June 11). How To Ask The Right Question: Hal Gregersen at TEDxYouth@IFTA [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=APVaTRNQmJc

 

Inspiring Creativity: Creativity Around Us

Welcome back to a new year!  This assignment is for my CEP 818 class I am currently enrolled in for the Fall.  For Module 1, I chose to do this assignment in my own bedroom because other than my classroom (and my car), this is the only other place that I spend a lot of time in.  It’s also the place where if I am to be inspired by any creativity, it would most likely happen in here.  I feel like my bedroom is comforting and makes me feel welcome and secure.  It provides me that safe space to allow me to the opportunity to think and feel.  It’s the place where I can shut the door and get away from any outside stresses, sit in any emotions that I am feeling or just ponder to myself without outside distractions.

The only part where I feel that it dampens my creativity is the fact that it is such a small space, 10×12” and if I have a hectic week and leave clothing everywhere or shoes everywhere, it makes me feel claustrophobic and anxious which pushes me to leave the room.  To find another location to relax or even dream.

I think this room impacts my creativity because it surrounds me with everything that is mine.  I have everything I need in here to do creative things — create music, read, write, draw, dream or find resources online that can inspire my own creativity (ie. “Get the juices flowing”).

Based off of my experience, I’d say that my optimal creative learning environment would be a much bigger room that had blanks walls of canvas that I could paint on, a large desk area where I could keep my DJ equipment out all of the time and mix music whenever I wanted.  It would also have tons of notebooks for me to pull out when I wanted to write and most importantly, it’d have a walk-in closet so I can put all of my clothes and shoes away so I don’t always feel so squeezed in the space that I currently have as my bedroom.

The following is the document created in 1 hour of the 5 things I found in my bedroom that inspire my creativity:

Deutch_CEP818_Module1