The importance of creativity

Adaptation of something I wrote two summers ago, all bitter references to unhygenic assholes removed, for marketing purposes:

Think of a world without creativity.   No music, comedy, repartee, great food; no movies, books or even articles, no television worth watching, no mischief, nothing worth laughing at, no cause for that good cry that is sometimes so needed.

Creativity, much spoken about by educators today, has always been at the heart of learning and good teaching.  

All creativity involves a certain amount of spontaneity.  It is play. The great John Cleese describes the essential conditions for creativity in a wonderful clip, unfortunately no longer available on youTube.  The five factors he talks about are:  place, start time, ending time, confidence and humor.   

For young children, who are naturally creative when given the slightest chance to be,  we’ve reduced the formula to this:

Have fun and help each other.

You can’t have fun if people are bothering you.  Don’t bother anyone. If you can’t help, don’t hurt.

When it’s time to be quiet for a minute or two, be quiet.

Cleese locates the creativity, you need a space to do it.  How about a room filled with art materials and a camera stand to shoot frames? With a recorder to make soundtracks and a computer to assemble the animations.

Cleese discusses the importance of a time set aside, a time with a beginning and an end, ideally about two hours.   He points out that it takes up to a half hour to leave the pressures of life outside and begin to play.  With luck you will play for 90 minutes or so.  Then play must end, as play always does, because it doesn’t feel like play forever. 

This is exactly what happens in the animation workshop.  For ninety minutes the kids have all the time in the world.

The other aspect of time is patience, taking your time, having a block of time you can use for play and dreaming up ideas.  You cannot be very creative while watching the clock, just like you can’t productively meditate keeping an eye on time.  You have to let things develop in their time, comfortable with not much happening sometimes.  

Asked what she liked best about the workshop, the Idea Girl said “it gives you plenty of time.”    

Confidence is necessary, because if you think you can’t dance, or sing, or draw, or animate, you probably won’t be able to.   What gives a person confidence?  Another one smiling and giving a thumbs up when the idea is presented.   What takes away confidence?  Critical comments, ridicule, skepticism, indifference to your best efforts.

The last part, humor, happens quite naturally in a room where children are playing, relaxed, involved, having fun, trying out the craziest ideas they can think of, not worried about anyone bothering them.

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