Increase Your Brain Power
Sonia in Vert
Publications
Shared Idea
Interesting Excerpts
Awards and Honors
Presentations
This Week's Puzzle
Last Week's Puzzle
Shared Idea
Creativity
       People easily recognize when others show creativity. They are most often aware of this in the arts, as any good form of art clearly requires a sense of initiative and originality. As Blaise Pascal noted, “Imagination disposes of everything; it creates beauty, justice, and happiness, which is everything in this world.” However, that same aspect equally applies to science and math. In an editorial in the September 2018 issue of The Science Teacher, Steve Metz pointed out that “it seems clear that science and the arts both spring from the same deep well of human creativity and imagination.” He also pointed out: “Students often associate creativity with painting, music, and writing, but not with science. They think that scientists and engineers follow routine procedures and that science itself is a set of facts and vocabulary to memorize.”
       As a counterpoint, Wayne Melville noted in the September 2017 issue of The Science Teacher that “modern science is more than just knowledge; science is a human endeavor based on curiosity about the natural world, observation, argument, creativity, and reason.” Similarly, in 1995, Charles Vest, who was then the President of MIT, noted: “It is the romance of discovery that draws young people to study and to pursue careers in science. It is the dream of creating entirely new devices, materials, and techniques that drives engineers.” Likewise, in Mathematical Scandals, Theoni Pappas stated that “(m)athematicians are driven by creative passions that are difficult to describe, but are no less forceful than those that compel a musician to compose or an artist to paint.“
       Throughout history, the advances of humanity have been initiated by those who have a creative perspective of the world around them. In A Mathematician’s Lament, Paul Lockhart stated how “the most valuable skill for a scientist or engineer is being able to think creatively and independently.” The individuals which have these traits have always stood out from the rest of the population. This has been a consistent aspect of our world. In addition, another important aspect, as noted by Stefan Johansson in the April 2018 issue of Phi Delta Kappan, is that “creativity is associated with long periods of work and reflection rather than rapid and unique insights.”
       When I was younger, I got frustrated with my inability to teach others how to be creative. In an article titled “An Evolved Uniqueness” in the September 2018 issue of Scientific American, Kevin Laland stated that: “The distinctive features of humanity—our intelligence, creativity, language, as well as our ecological and demographic success—are either evolutionary adaptations to our ancestors’ own cultural activities or direct consequences of those adaptations. For our species’ evolution, cultural inheritance appears every bit as important as genetic inheritance.”
       Similarly, in the Spring 2020 issue of American Educator, Pedro De Bruyckere, Paul A. Kirschner and Casper Hulshof pointed out: “Creativity is not a skill, and it cannot be taught or learned. Creativity is a quality or characteristic that a person possesses….Viewed in these terms, it’s not simply that creativity can’t be learned; it’s also very difficult to influence. All that teachers can do is to provide a learning climate that offers psychological safety—a climate in which learners feel sufficiently secure—so that they have the courage and the confidence to do things and say things that, at first glance, perhaps seem odd or not completely right. In other words, teachers can provide an environment that encourages students to take risks, safe in the knowledge that their mistakes will be tolerated with understanding.“ In 1994, in The Astonishing Hypothesis, Francis Crick had stated: “We can hope to understand more precisely the mechanisms of such mental activities as intuition, creativity, and aesthetic pleasure, and in so doing grasp them more clearly and, it is to be hoped, enjoy them more.”
       In the profession of education, “creativity cannot be taught, but it can be killed,” as pointed out by Yong Zhao in the May 2006 issue of Educational Leadership. Similarly, in an article by David A. Gamson, Sarah Anne Eckert, and Jeremy Anderson in the March 2019 issue of Phi Delta Kappan, in was noted how a “heavy reliance on objectives in curriculum design not only eliminated the potential for unanticipated learnings, but also had the potential to limit the development of creativity and critical thinking in students.”
       Just as creativity is a central factor in art, science, math and technology, it is also a necessary component of good teaching. The teachers everyone best remembers are those who were able to spark one’s desire to learn. In The Privilege of Being a Physicist, Victor Weisskopf said: “You can teach only by creating interest, by creating an urge to know. Knowledge has to be sucked into the brain, not pushed into it.” Albert Einstein had a similar view. He said: “It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge.”
       While teachers may not be able to teach students how to be creative, we can encourage students to develop whatever creativity they have. And the aspect teachers have is what can lead them to stay in this trying profession. In The 14 June 2019 issue of Science, Sally G. Hoskins confessed: “After a fulfilling career as a college biology professor, I’m retiring. ‘What will you miss most?’ a colleague asked. My answer was something that, 30 years ago, I would never have expected myself to say: ‘I will miss the creativity of teaching.’” Or, as Victor Weisskopf stated near the end of The Privilege of Being a Physicist: “What is sorely lacking is a fulfilled, creative content of life for the population at large.”
             
  Website by Avi Ornstein, "The Blue Dragon" – 2009 All Rights Reserved