A slight obsession. Twitter, Csikszentmihalyi, Jones and Woolmer.
23rd November 19
So, a confession. I have a healthy obsession with creativity.
the use of imagination or original ideas to create something; inventiveness.
I am fascinated by how people and children create and invent. The speed at which ideas are formulated. The methods used to create something and, perhaps most fascinating of all, creating the environment where such creativity can thrive and flow.
I see it everyday as I walk around the school. Inventiveness and creativity abounds in every classroom, regardless of age of child or lesson. I also see it in colleagues who deftly guide and encourage our children to explore and apply their innate curiosity to a whole host of topics and areas.
It is invariably during holidays that my mind wanders. It also wanders during exercise. It was during a rather unpleasant (bordering on the enjoyable) spin class that my mind shut out the pounding music and ‘encouragement’ of the instructor to reflect on a conversation I had been part of (more an observer more accurately) between colleagues on the potential content of a recent parent workshop on how to be creative with iPad devices.
I marvelled at the flow of the ideas, each one triggering the development of another, culminating in a frankly brilliant session. Their excitement tangible and anticipation of the session thrilling.
I needed to understand more. I needed to understand the psychology of discovery and invention. Enter Twitter and then after a few minutes, enter Csikszentmihalyi.
His book, ingeniously titled ‘Creativity’ is quite the read. What captured my imagination was the section on the early years. He explains that some children who later astonished the world were quite remarkable right out of their cradles. But many of them showed no spark of unusual talent.
‘Young Einstein was no prodigy. Winston Churchill’s gift as a statesman were not obvious until middle age. Tolstoy, Kafka and Proust did not impress their elders as future geniuses.’
The final paragraph on page 156 made everything make sense. Sort of.
‘If being a prodigy is not a requirement for later creativity, a more than usually keen curiosity about one’s surroundings appears to be. Practically every individual who has made a novel contribution to a domain remembers feeling awe about the mysteries of life and has rich anecdotes to tell about efforts to solve them’
It is an absorbing book. The story of Darwin in his youth discovering a beetle is inspiring. We are currently rewatching the ITV series The Durrels. It is required viewing to see how Gerald Durrel was ‘encouraged’ to develop his fascination of flora and fauna.
My copy of ‘Creativity’ is well thumbed. It accompanies me pretty much everywhere and reinforces how essential it is to foster and nurture curiosity.
It helped me make sense of what links many of the people and leaders that I have found intriguing for many years. A certain Eddie Jones, for example. You saw his inventiveness in that most wonderful semi-final. For medical reasons let’s not talk about the subsequent match. How I enjoyed his wry smile as the game unfolded as his strategy and creativity was carried out by the fifteen in white shirts. Talking of which, it was a certain ‘maverick’ Clive Woodward whose curiosity uncovered the obvious, why not change out of your muddy, wet shirt at half time?
Bob Woolmer is similarly fascinating. Why not send out your captain to the field with an earpiece so you
can advise and, um, coach? It didn’t go down well with the ECB but what inventiveness! I had the great fortune to meet him and to hear him speak. An absolute gentleman. He correctly questioned the coaching of children. Let them enjoy striking the ball, let them swing the bat, don’t stifle them with unnecessary technicalities of technique
I was absolutely overjoyed when a parent recently described our school as forward thinking. I realised that perhaps without necessarily realising or appreciating it but this is a shared philosophy amongst us all at Park Hill. Children, parents and teachers alike. Our children will be entering work in what is described (World Economic Forum, The Future of Jobs) as the Fourth Industrial Revolution. They will enjoy four or five careers. What are the critical skills and abilities that they must possess to thrive and prosper in those multiple careers? They need to be cognitively flexible and creative. Our responsibility as a school does not end at 11. We must provide them with these skills for life.
And my goodness me, do we enjoy taking this responsibility seriously at Park Hill.