Wednesday, November 24, 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 For every figure that fits the bill (Joseph Conrad was a bookish, withdrawn child whose parents died before he turned 12), another genius bucks the pattern (Henri Cartier-Bresson clashed with his wealthy parents, but they were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 Poincar√© 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.

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