Thursday, November 25, 2010

theories for encouraging creativity

The Chronicle of Higher Education has an article with the title of How College Kills creativity: Nothing Succeeds like Failure.  The article discusses how many artists and creative people had a parent die before they were ten years old, then dismisses the argument:
The notion that genius is nurtured by childhood adversity "is a tempting one," Robinson writes, but it crumbles under careful scrutiny. For every figure that fits the bill (Joseph Conrad was a bookish, withdrawn child whose parents died before he turned 12), another genius bucks the pattern (Henri Cartier-Bresson clashed with his wealthy parents, but they were supportive—and alive).

and on to another theory:
Sudden Genius looks for answers in the lives of 10 pioneering thinkers and artists, including Marie Curie, Charles Darwin, Satyajit Ray, Virginia Woolf, and Christopher Wren. Robinson tries to ferret out the "sources, ingredients, and patterns" of their talents. The big—if bland—takeaway is this: Geniuses are made, not born. Breakthroughs that appear like flashes out of the blue in fact result from at least 10 years of preparation, if not a lifetime of industriousness. When Thomas Edison died, he owned 1,093 patents (that's about one every two weeks of his adult life); Picasso produced more than 20,000 works; Henri Poincaré published 500 papers and 30 books. The lesson, Robinson says, is that "hard work does pay off."
What doesn't encourage creativity?  University:
Robinson is emphatic about what does not contribute to creative excellence: higher education. The academy's emphasis on specialization and its "inherent tendency to ignore or reject highly original work that does not fit the existing paradigm" is an impediment to creativity, Robinson argues....
..."If anything," Csikszentmihalyi wrote, "school threatened to extinguish the interest and curiosity that the child had discovered outside its walls."
Read more of the review at the link above or check out the book at Amazon.

Also found today is a review of a research paper.  Tyler Cowan of Marginal revolution looks at an article about "the relationship between attractiveness and risk taking in chess" as a way to encourage innovation.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

art tools and resources online

Another link dump - and to make it even less thoughtful, I am linking to someone who has clearly put effort into preparing a list of useful links.

Shelly Terrell at Teacher Reboot Camp offers a list of 20+ resources to help children draw and create art, and also to compare and contrast art.

She doesn't mention Aviary, which has some excellent tools online for image manipulation and for audio and possibly video.

Well, I'm at it, let me compliment Google Docs for their relatively new drawing tool online.

Joachim Thornstrom (with an umlaut over the second "o" in Thornstrom) produced a Prezi in what I guess is a Scandinavian language but most of the brand-names are understandable and name interesting web tools online.  His Prezi is here and although it lacks links, it names some useful sites for a variety of creative uses.
For example:
--Screenr - a sort of video screen capture website that allows you to make videos of what's on your screen up to five minutes long.  I love it.
--Sound Bible - holds a variety of public domain sound effects in mp3 format.
--Google Sites
--Myna Audio editor - ah, part of Aviary
--Glogster - I think it is a poster making website.
--Audacity - a free mp3 making program you can download to record yourself with. This program you download, while Aviary's is entirely in the cloud.  I used Audacity when I used a Windows computer, but haven't needed it since switching to Mac. - I am not a Macophile, but I do like Garageband!
--Roc Music creator - I suspect this is part of Aviary as well.
--+ several more.

Since I started with Terrell's list of links, I should finish with this Prezi on engaging web 2.0 tools by Ryan McCallum - It is more focused on teaching than on creativity per se, but does provide a good bookend.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Nanowrimo problems

I also posted this at Surprises Aplenty.


I prepared ahead - albeit insufficiently - for November and Nanowrimo.  I've had an idea for a novel for some time now and have wanted to try writing it.  I have written short fiction and essays short and long for this blog, a few magazines and my students.  I was ready, I felt, to extend myself...
No point in being wordy now.  It will take an extreme effort of will to continue at this point.
Oh, Nanowrimo, for those unwilling to follow the link, is short for national Novel Writing Month.  The organization is international now, so the name is both cumbersome and incorrect.  Anyway, the goal for Nanowrimo is to type 50,000 words during the month of November.  Quantity is important and quality is not.  This makes sense to me as the first step is a sort of brainstorming, with the expectation of massive revisions coming afterward.
By the end of November first, I was a little behind in my word count, but not disastrously so.  In the late afternoon of November second, I received word that my father-in-law had fallen from a tree -a cultivated persimmon tree, so it was particularly tall - and we spent that evening driving to the hospital and visiting with him.  Still, I could catch up.  However, we made plans while at the hospital to work at the farm all weekend to help the family catch up on their work.
I've enjoyed even this half-assed attempt at Nanowrimo and see real value in it.  I hope that I can get it together and continue working on my novel even if I don't reach 50,000 words.
If you think the idea of thousands of amateurs trying to write novels in November is crazy, you aren't alone. Laura Miller, at Salon, feels the same way and salutes the reader.
Consider turning away from the self-aggrandizing frenzy of NaNoWriMo and embracing the quieter triumph of Kalen Landow and Melissa Klug's "10/10/10" challenge: These two women read 10 book in 10 categories between Jan. 1 and Oct. 10, focusing on genres outside their habitual favorites. In her victory-lap blog post, Klug writes of discovering new favorite authors she might otherwise never have encountered, and of her sadness on being reminded that "most Americans don't read ANY books in a given year, or just one or two." Instead of locking herself up in a room to crank out 50,000 words of crap, she learned new things and "expanded my reading world." So let me be the first to say it: Melissa and Kalen, you are the heroes.