Tuesday, February 21, 2012

You Got to Tip on the Tightrope

. . . in the immortal words of Janelle Monae.

In re California legislation S.B. 789

This bill would require the advisory committee to consult, as appropriate, with individuals who are experts or have experience in innovation in the fields of business, science, technology, mathematics, engineering, and arts education on the development of a voluntary Creative and Innovative Education Index, to be based in part on the creative opportunities in each participating school, as specified. The bill would require the advisory committee to make recommendations by June 1, 2013, to the Superintendent on the extent to which this index should be part of the state’s accountability system and methods to foster creative and innovative education in the public schools.

Does it make you nervous  to think about legislators regulating creativity? It seems as disagreeable as the prospect of the business folks messing with the talent.

But maybe "regulating" is too strong a word; the bill started out like this, was amended to this, and then to this. Perhaps it's more accurate to say "considering implementing recommendations about"?

My first thought is that when deciding whether to follow a recommendation, one must carefully consider the source.

Dr. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi suggests that there is a creative personality.

Can creativity be taught? Or should we think about creativity as the seed of a flower that must be nurtured in order to bloom? If so, what conditions will encourage that little flower?

When in doubt, I turn to Einstein:
The really valuable thing in the pageant of human life seems to me not the political state, but the creative, sentient individual, the personality; it alone creates the noble and the sublime, while the herd as such remains dull in thought and dull in feeling.
Italics mine.

Meanwhile, if (in addition to allowing them some autonomy, some freedom to experiment with what they think) we can give kids music to listen and dance to, cool stuff to mess with, and beautiful things to look at, they'll figure out what to make of it all.

They need as many opportunities to wonder as possible:
The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true art and true science. Whoever does not know it and can no longer wonder, no longer marvel, is as good as dead. . . .

Are you wondering about the tightrope? Oh, it's balance, and the need to take risks. Edwin Land said, "An essential aspect of creativity is not being afraid to fail." We all of us need to be able to boldly go without worrying about what will happen when--not if--we fumble. Fumbling isn't failure; it's part of learning.

UPDATE: Wish I'd seen this earlier. From Namaste Nancy, the reminder that creativity is for everyone.

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