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Friday, 30 May 2014

Knowing Creativity - Part 3/3 of Creativity: Being. Doing. Knowing.

Being, Doing, Knowing

By Daniel Dunlevie

Part 3

How do we know what creativity is?  Is it when somebody comes up with an idea and expresses this idea through a chosen medium?  Anyone can do this.  The value of what is created is objective.  Its value is perceived by the maker and viewer.  The creator had an idea, planned it out, bought the materials and then stuck it all together with an abundance of nails and glue.  The end result might be an eyesore to some or an interesting take on sculpture for others.  But fundamentally it is their creation.  They had the knowledge that they could build it and applied this knowledge to go through the certain steps of creation.  I would argue that it doesn't matter whether the creator likes what they created or not, little own what others opinions are.  If one knows that they are creating then they are creative.  But if creativity remains around just this proposition then there are impacts on the creator.  

In the words of Pablo Picasso, “The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away”.  

Without an outlet of expression the creator might conjure up feelings of self-loathing, self-doubt and feel a lack of purpose in their creations and consequentially life.  This would impact on their intrinsic motivation, self-belief and consequentially their work.  This may have both negative and positive outcomes to the end product.  Propositional knowledge is where the conflicts of creation lie.  This is the knowledge that pushes the boundaries and understandings of life.  This is the level where interaction occurs with its audience.  It is the influence of its impact.  The emotions, thoughts and ideas generated from propositional knowledge may produce work that is successfully expressive of the emotions and provide satisfaction for the creator and or it could leave the creator in a consistent state of disappointment.  But as Friedrich Neizsche said, “You need chaos in your soul to give birth to a dancing star”.  

However, it is the understanding of personal knowledge that has a more structural impact on how the end product looks.  The personal knowledge that the creator has of the world, whether it be opinions (informed or uninformed), interactions (I push this and it moves) or ideas (expressed or internalised) will have a profound impact on what is produced.  Having personal knowledge of creativity allows the creator to have experienced creation before.  There is some propositional knowledge in this. For example, if the creator has seen a sculpture, but can’t remember a single thing about it, then they probably wouldn't claim to know sculptures.  The fact is that knowing such a thing requires many propositions about them.  What is important that applying personal knowledge to creativity involves more than knowledge of propositions.  No matter how much one may tell the creator about sculpture, no matter how many facts they learn about it, if they haven’t seen a sculpture then they can’t be said to know about sculptures in the sense required for personal knowledge.  

Personal knowledge thus seems to involve coming to know a certain number of propositions in a particular way.  But for one to grow in their creative journey through life one must experience creativity personally.  It could be argued that the more one does this, the richer the knowledge-base to create.  This could be generated through experiences in an array of environments such as walking through an art gallery, swimming in the ocean, driving down a highway or hiking through a jungle.  It could also be social interactions between different people, perhaps from different cultures and the sharing of thoughts and ideas or interactions with nature or space.  These are interactions between the external world and the individual.   These can be used to motivate and inspire the creator. 

Procedural knowledge permits the creator to make the final product.  With procedural knowledge the creator can articulate their ideas in ways that rely on certain learnt skills and abilities.  Knowledge of this is formed through direct sensory experiences of creation.  There are many learning experiences they could go through such as having the elements of a creative process explained, be guided through the procedures step-by-step, have certain aspects demonstrated, explore others work, collaborate and discuss ideas and thinking with others, and then practice to hone their skills. 

However, herein lies the tragic shortcomings of schools in developing students as creative beings.  Teachers focus too much on developing student’s procedural knowledge and do not spend as much time on having students develop their personal knowledge or their propositional knowledge through meaningful learning experiences.  This is where teachers are deficient in their understanding of the creative process and inhibits their ability to create creative beings.  To develop student’s creative knowledge they need to be actively captivated in their learning.  Creativity is not about being passive.  A teacher must provide a stimulating learning environment that a student can actively interact with.  A teacher must also challenge the children’s perceived understandings and develop their critical thinking.  Children need to be empowered to be brave and take risks.  Be nurtured to trust their instincts.  Given the freedom of choice.  If students are not given the opportunity to develop this belief, then their knowledge and creative abilities will be constrained, restrained, diminished, extinguished.  Teachers must hand back the learning to their students.  In doing this a teacher will help their students become more creative.  

Let the child be. Let the child do. Let the child know.

Be creativity.
Do creativity.
Know creativity.

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