Is the best way to learn about creativity to BE creative?

I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.” Confucius

I’m coming towards the end of 3 year’s study for an MA in Innovation, Creativity and Leadership at City University London. As part of the coursework for the Creativity and the Creative Industries module we’ve had to explore and apply a creative technique  – it could be an art form such as installation art, video, drawing or sculpture – to develop an object for display that represents our personal journey on the course. We also had to give a live group performance (more of that in another blog).
This module and both of these challenges have been the most ‘hands-on’ creative experiences of the course. The academic work has provided a brilliant backbone for my courses and understanding. But as someone who teaches people about creativity sometimes it’s a really useful reminder to actually dive in and have to be creative rather than just talking about it. Some of the objectives of doing this activity were:

  • To be open-minded to solve problems in creative and innovative ways.
  • To individually solve problems using creative problem solving techniques.
  • To demonstrate independent and creative thinking to solve complex and wicked problems.

We had 11 weeks to conceive our idea, develop it and finally present it in the form of a show last week at City University, along with my fellow students.
As part of the inspiration and stimulus for our ideas we have undertaken a series of different artistic and ‘live’ experiences and activities. We have taken part in an comedy improv workshop (challenging), acting workshop (out of my comfort zone), hour long silent derive at the V&A Museum (absorbing), taken part in a choreographed walk (Walking Stories, read more here) and been part of a string quartet (fascinating). The mighty Steve Jobs said that creativity is just connecting things and that the bigger your frame of reference on the world, the more dots you have to join. That is part of the ambition of this module I think, to give you more and more dots….As Nike would say, Just Do It.
What has been interesting is to explore the creative process from a blank page to the final outcome on two very different tasks – the group performance and the artifact. Much of creativity is about different factors – your personal attitude towards risk, how long you can tolerate ambiguity (the not knowing the answer for), your attitude to structure and boundaries. What is fascinating is also seeing how 14 people interpret the very same brief in totally (and some) similar ways. See what I created here.
It’s also been interesting to reflect on the creative process as we’ve gone along (we had to keep a written journal). If you’ve never sat down and taken a moment to reflect on your own personal creative preferences then I can highly recommend it. Are you at your best when you’re alone? In a group? Outside? What stimulus do you need? Noise? Quiet? All these things can be instructive in helping you achieve high performance when you need it.
I’m going to post some interesting reflective exercises here over the next few weeks so if you want to get involved please do and let me know what you think.
Written by Claire Bridges, Founder Now Go Create. Link up with Claire on Google+





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