The Truly Creative Individual

I recently began reading¬†Why Fly? A Philosophy of Creativity”¬†by E. Paul Torrance. I had originally set out with the goal of reviewing the book, but since it is comprised of a collection of essays that span the course of several years, I believe that the best course of action will be to pull relevant material from it. I may do a general review after I finish it.

I came across this quote last night during my reading, and it struck me because I saw myself so perfectly in it. I have to share it to see if anyone else is struck the same way:

Because they can’t stop thinking, [creative] teachers don’t stop working with a forty hour week. The supervisor who cannot tolerate an independent spirit will find it difficult to direct or rigidly channel the energies of the creative teacher, who becomes completely absorbed in his or her work and sometimes equates supervision with interference. Anyone who tries to suggest a change in the work or a creative person just as she is finishing a job may be inviting an explosion. The work at that point is as much a part of the worker as her vital organs…

The truly creative teacher does not work for status or power; he has no desire to be principal or superintendent. He works in order to live with himself: the freedom to create is his greatest reward. Occasionally, he may prefer to work alone; he may insist on setting his own pace. The mind needs an incubation period of seeming inactivity to hatch ideas. Since creativity involves divergent thinking, we can expect the creative teacher to express ideas that differ from our own and from some of education’s time-honored practices. Furthermore, since he cares nought for power, he is unlikely to change his thinking in order to curry favor with his superiors. He may be difficult to hold to routine and become restless under conventional restraint. We works best when dealing with difficult, challenging problems or when engrossed in a project that is his “baby.” There will be times when he will defy precedent. He may try a new idea without official permission.

Does anyone else see themselves in this description? I had chalked a lot of these characteristics up as character flaws. Who knew that they were indicative of a creative spirit? Torrance would know; he has been studying creativity for years.

creative individual

Curiosity Leads to Creativity

A couple of years ago, I took part in an online month-long workshop that changed the direction of my teaching forever. In the workshop we were asked to define our five deepest values. My list was as follows:

  1. Curiosity
  2. Flexibility
  3. Enthusiasm
  4. Respect
  5. Knowledge

Passion had originally been on my list, but I realized that, when you are working to define your deepest values, you are working to define what you are passionate about. Am I passionate about passion? Does that even make any sense? What is that passion that drives me every morning, that makes me want to get up and go to work every day, and still leaves me happy at the end of the day, even when I am exhausted? The answer is: curiosity.

I am amazingly curious about how people learn and how children think. I am curious about how social interactions between people lead to different emotional responses between children or adults. And what I have found, to my amazement and delight, is that my curiosity has fueled me to become more creative, not just in my classroom, but in my business as well. I have been researching a way to do teacher education workshops unlike any other workshop that I have ever been to. I have brainstormed new ideas and methods, and have poured countless hours of creativity into this blog. On the flip side, I have found that I don’t have patience for many things that have little or nothing to do with curiosity or creativity. I have written several workshops for Project: Preschool, but the ones that I am the most excited about have to do with creativity. I recently tried to focus on a new topic/direction for Uplifting Freedom for July, but found myself so unmotivated to write about it that I realized that I needed to keep my primary focus on creativity.

Luckily, creativity is a complex topic, and there are many different elements of a classroom and of life that affect creativity. This brings many different topics to write about and ways to think about it.

Today my mind keeps coming back to the fact that curiosity almost inevitably leads to creativity. Being curious about “how” will motivate one to come up with creative and productive methods of doing something. Being curious about “why” will lead one to explore new reasons for doing something, or the reasoning behind doing it differently. Being curious about “what” will lead one to discover new uses for something. Curiosity plays a crucial part in creativity, and it is by asking questions and seeking answers that we find our true creative mind.

Of course, knowing what our passions are is a big step in finding our true creative mind, as well. I don’t think I would ever have found mine if I hadn’t sat down and thought about what I was truly passionate about. It was through this exercise that I have been able to define what it is that I am curious about, and how to go about satisfying that curiosity. Through the satisfying of my curiosity, I have come up with new classroom methods, new workshop ideas, and new ways of doing old things. It has been a truly satisfying experience.