Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Professor of
Psychology and Management at Claremont College and author of the book Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, said
“Of all human activities, creativity comes closest to providing the fulfillment we all hope to get in our lives. Call it full-blast living.”
Full blast living, embracing our creativity and that of our students, if often filled with contradictions.
“Creative individuals are remarkable for their ability to adapt to almost any situation and to make do with whatever is at hand to reach their goals. If I had to express in one word what makes their personalities different from others, it's complexity. They show tendencies of thought and action that in most people are segregated. They contain contradictory extremes; instead of being an "individual," each of them is a "multitude."”
1. Creative people have a great deal of physical energy, but they're also often quiet and at rest.
2. Creative people tend to be smart yet naive at the same time.
3. Creative people combine playfulness and discipline, or responsibility and irresponsibility.
4. Creative people alternate between imagination and fantasy, and a rooted sense of reality.
5. Creative people trend to be both extroverted and introverted.
6. Creative people are humble and proud at the same time.
7. Creative people, to an extent, escape rigid gender role stereotyping.
8. Creative people are both rebellious and conservative.
9. Most creative people are very passionate about their work, yet they can be extremely objective about it as well.
10. Creative people's openness and sensitivity often exposes them to suffering and pain, yet also to a great deal of enjoyment.
Does this sound like any of your students or educators you know?
So many of our students and teachers are filled with these apparent contradictions. We should avoid looking at one behavior or another and make assumptions about creativity or lack of creativity.
Similarly, we as educators, if we are to truly nurture creativity in our students, will need to become comfortable with results that do not meet our expectations, but are, none the less, creative.
Think of it. No matter how silly or feeble the result, the attempt is still creative. Students need to be encouraged to engage in the creative act, and not worry about judgment.
Shirky continues, "On the spectrum of creative work, the difference between the mediocre and the good is vast. Mediocrity is, however, still on the spectrum; you can move from mediocre to good in increments. The real gap is between doing nothing and doing something..."
So this begs a few questions.
Are we as educators willing to accept and even embrace the seeming contradictions in creatives and even encourage these contradictions by moving students along the spectrum of creative work?
Are we as educators willing to push a student to bridge the gap between doing nothing and something?
Are we as educators willing to accept the contradictions of creativity, the spectrum of creative work, help students bridge the gaps between action and inaction, and push students into pursuing "full blast living?"
Are we as educators comfortable with the messiness and fuzziness that is creativity? We must.