Creativity Emerging

creativity |ˌkrē-āˈtivitē| noun.the use of the imagination or original ideas, esp. in the production of an artistic work.Thesaurus: inventiveness, imagination, innovation, innovativeness, originality, individuality; artistry, inspiration, vision; enterprise, initiative, resourcefulness. (Oxford American Dictionary) What is creativity and why is it important?

Look at the Oxford American Dictionary’s definition, more importantly look at the words associated with it. All of these words are critical for the success of our future, for our students, our workplace and ultimately the development of our world. It seems obvious that we should be teaching creativity in our schools. Our future depends on it. But we are just now catching on; creativity has become noticeably more important for employment and in the larger capitalist world market while it still lags in the educational sector.

I am not the only one claiming we need a re-vamped educational system where creative thinking is emphasized. From Bill Gates to Ken Robinson, the brilliant minds of our time are supporting this faith in the power of creativity. On NPR, Bill Gates talks about "Unleashing the power of creativity" in development and Ken Robinson's famous Ted Talk: "Says schools kill creativity."

Daniel H. Pink’s, “A Whole New Mind” focuses on this recent shift towards the evolution of professional success and ultimately the evolution of humanity. He argues that the era of the “left brain” dominance(focused on memorization, math and the speed at which you produce an answer) is shifting towards a "new world" where the "right brain qualities-inventiveness, empathy, meaning - predominate. This theory has become a New York Times bestseller.

As computers begin to do our math more quickly than any human, as jobs become outsourced, competition calls for something more to advertise your product: meaning, emotion, visual allure. The graphic designer, the image maker, the artist all become important. So, creativity is critical for success but how do we teach it? How can we use it to make the world a better place?

The developing world has already jumped at this new discovery, resourcefulness has always been important for survival and how it can create a market. Mirco-finance has become the new word in development as it harnesses the creative potential on a small level. John M. Eger talks about this through the potential of media and technology, in his blog post "Sparking Creativity in the Developing World." But again the educational sector lacks this understanding, schools here are in even worse shape with less funding and over-site. I fear the traditional trend of following the mistakes of the developed world may follow.

In Palestine, in my experience this has been the case. Creative thought is almost non-existent especially in any kind of expressive form. At school students are not permitted to think for themselves, to ask questions or to critically analyze. As a teacher at TYO I have seen this first hand, from university students to elementary students, they are not only discouraged from thinking creativity but often punished for thinking “outside of the box.” As I began my first week of classes I am struck again by the lack of creative thought in my first photography class. Our warm up game, two truths and a lie requires some creative thought. Enough that it makes many of my students feel uncomfortable. Each student shares three things about themselves with the class, two true things and one lie. We try and guess what is the lie. In each of my four photography classes many students struggled with coming up with the lie, even the loud boisterous students could not create something new. It's only when examples are thrust at them  that they continue modeling their lie on mine.

My question remains how can we teach creativity? What would happen if the developed world valued creativity in the educational sector?  I aim to do this in my classes at TYO, as a photography teach I will teach the importance of looking at things in a new way. My goal is to encourage the students to think in new ways, to exercise their right brains. The first step is creating a safe space where this can happen, where they are not afraid to make mistakes and try this new way of thinking. Maybe some day Nablus will foster a Bill Gates, a brilliant mind that thinks out-side of the box.

“…my belief that the power of creativity and intelligence can make the world a better place.”  -Bill Gates


Abi is the Triple Exposure Coordinator