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Thinking, inside-out: creativity in learning and life

Matthew Riggan — The Workshop School

Creativity is as complex as it is important. It requires imagination and inspiration but demands that they be called into some kind of action. It applies to situations where we need to understand problems, but also to our need to express an idea or a feeling. It asks us to break through constraints and limitations, yet the creative process often feeds on constraints. It is cognitive, linguistic, and emotional. It is punctuated by epiphanies, yet these breakthrough moments rest on a lifetime of experiences, thoughts and feelings. It can be both deeply personal and highly social. In schools, we mostly treat it as a step in the problem solving process: let's brainstorm!

In this conversation, participants will experience and reflect on different facets of the creative process with the goal of unpacking one big question: how do we cultivate creativity in our learning spaces? We will tackle questions such as:

  • Where does inspiration come from? How do we imagine?
  • How do we act on our imagination?
  • How do we get out of our own heads? How do we make peace with doubts and fears?
  • What do we need from each other to be, and feel, creative?

Throughout, we will draw on the work of researchers, artists, and designers but keep the focus on our own experience and the learning environments in which we operate.

Conversational Practice

Parts of this conversation will feel like a seminar. I want to hear about what participants associate with creativity - what it means to them, how it has showed up in their lives, and what they think contributed to their own creative experiences. We'll use some structured prompts but will also allow for facilitated conversation.

I'll share a diverse set of examples of creative process, and as a group we will unpack the stories behind them. The goal is not to define the "recipe" for being creative, but rather to tease out what makes creativity possible, and then reflect on how schools and classrooms can work more intentionally toward cultivating it.

Because these sessions are short, the conversation will not include as much hands-on work as I might ideally like. But I will intersperse our discussion with brief prompts and activities designed to reframe participants' understanding of the creative process and what inspires it.

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