Inspiring Creative Learning; Overview
I was asked by Violeta Serbu to prepare a stimulus for the the CROS Camp Learning day in August 2012 and we settled on a title, Inspiring Creative Learning. I will provide information as a series of blog posts, hopefully with responses from Vio, but you are welcome to comment at the end of this blog post.
I intend to discuss this in three parts starting with Inspiring, which I think is the hardest aspect to deal with as it is so personal and varies between people so much;
Inspiration is very personal and can come from many directions; family, relationships, friends, people you know, and people you don’t know, people who inspire you in something very specific, people in the media or in films, characters in novels or in TV shows and films. Identifying how any one individual is inspired, and then planning to reproduce that process of inspiration, is very problematic and so very difficult to plan for. Do Elena Ciric or Vlad Atanasiu inspire people in CROS for example?
People; I noticed in writing that list above that it is all about being inspired by individual people. We talk about the importance of role models in the UK, but that worries me because we are also dominated by an ideology of personal achievement, yet when you analyse ‘success’ it is a group achievement, even when one person, like Bradley Wiggins in the 2012 Tour de France, is the face of that success. Personally I was inspired by The Beatles in various ways and one description of why they were successful was that people wanted to be in their ‘gang’ of friends (same with any successful pop group really). In fact whilst you might be inspired by individuals it is groups that help you achieve something distinctive.
I’ve realised that I was involved in setting up many group activities in my life, the value of which I didn’t appreciate at the time, but from which I learnt many important lessons that were more useful
to me than any hero-worship of some role-model with some probably unrepeatable ability, such as, say, John Lennon. So inspiration
that helps develop
your abilities is probably different from inspiration
that helps provide you with motivation
I’m one of many people who think that learning about creativity comes from trying to do things and failing
. That is probably because when you try to do something you aim to copy
something or someone like a hero, or role model. When you fail
to copy what you aspire to copy precisely then in some senses you fail, at least according to the terms you originally set out to achieve. However the process of working through the activity enables you to engage with new processes. This might be along the lines of, well I’m sure X did it this way; your hero permits
you to experiment. If you reflect on what you did whilst you were “experimenting” with copying your hero you might learn how it was that you did something new. Often the problem-solving inspiration you engage with is about working with groups to achieve a common goal, like CROS for example. Keith Sawyer
actually has a term for this process ‘Group Genius’ which is about improvisation, deep listening (to discussion) and letting problems emerge so that creative group solutions can be identified. So the value of inspiration is that it gets you to do new things with new people, and the best learning follows from that.
Education; I think education should help you become creative and that teachers should inspire you in various ways, but It doesn’t. The purpose of our work on the PAH Continuum is to show that in the educational context you need to be learning about subjects (facts/a canon) along with collaboration (process) and also how to innovate (creativity). I sometimes say we should be allowing people to re-invent the wheel, because they would then discover fantastic problem-solving skills. The fact that we do not is because education has become the site of socialization and it is where traditional myths (such as the myth of Great Men) are repeated in order that you learn to behave exactly as previous generations did. Sometimes we do move beyond subject limitations but we rarely escape the bonds of the myths we have been unconsciously shacked with whilst being educated. Lennon said ‘life is what happens whilst you are making plans’, but you could paraphrase that as ‘socialisation is what happens whilst you are learning to think for yourself’. By the time you have gained some intellectual quality and ability to think for yourself you have become thoroughly institutionalised (certainly in the UK!)
I’ve covered some of these issues in terms of how I came to be a creative learner in my ‘novel about learning’ 63/68 A Visceral History
, but here are a couple of chapters that cover points raised here,