To coincide with a week-long run of #creativeHE facilitated by Norman Jackson – 16-22 April 2016 – we are posting a #Take5 from Norman – asking us to join in a conversation about creativity in the disciplines. Join in the conversation in Google+ here:
#Where Does Creativity Reside in the Discipline?
Surveys of academics/faculty in different disciplines (1) reveal that sites for creative thinking and action appear to be available in most aspects of disciplinary practice. Sites for creativity can be connected through the idea of disciplinary inquiry and problem solving. They can also be connected to Dellas and Gaier’s (2) concept of creativity ‘the desire and ability to use imagination, insight, intellect, feeling and emotion to move an idea from one state to an alternative, previously unexplored state’. This is fundamentally a process we call ‘development’ and I think the idea of development incorporates all the thinking and actions that enable us to bring imagination into concrete existence (3).
Question: This is the list of things academics in different disciplines considered to be associated with being creative? WHAT DO YOU THINK? WHAT’S MISSING? Can you illustrate how these things work together in concrete examples of creativity in disciplinary practice?
Creativity in the Disciplines
Being original – is understood as creating something new and useful to the discipline. For most academics this is embodied in the processes and products of research many of whom are active contributors. The idea is also connected to invention and innovation. For example in history this could mean: new approaches to solving historical problems; new techniques to gather and analyse data; new approaches to validate evidence; new interpretations of evidence; new forms of history and new forms of communicating historical information.
Making use of imagination – is about using mental models in disciplinary thinking. It is a source of inspiration, stimulates curiosity and sustains motivation. It generates ideas for creative solutions and facilitates interpretation in situations which cannot be understood by facts or observations alone. Disciplinary problems and concerns provide an essential context for the use of imagination.
Finding and thinking about complex problems – the engine of academic creativity is intellectual curiosity – the desire to find out, understand, explain, prove or disprove something. Curiosity leads academics to find questions that are worth answering and problems that are worth solving.
Making sense of complexity, synthesising, connecting and seeing relationships – Because working with complex problems often involves working with multiple and incomplete data sets, the capacity to synthesise, make connections and see new patterns and relationships is important in sense-making (interpreting and creating new mental models) and working towards better understandings and possible solutions to difficult problems.
Communication – the communication of ideas, knowledge and deeper understandings are important dimensions of creativity in the discipline. The symbolic language and tools and vehicles for communicating are all part of the disciplinary heritage. Story telling is an important dimension of communication. Disciplinary cultures are largely based on writing using the conceptual and symbolic language and images that have been developed to communicate complex information. Story-telling and story-writing are important sites for academics’ creativity.
Resourcefulness – in the professional disciplines many roles involve solving difficult problems requiring ingenuity and resourcefulness. For example, a social worker or medic might need all their resourcefulness to access and acquire the resources to solve a client or patient’s problem.
Do join in the conversation via #creativeHE: https://plus.google.com/u/0/communities/110898703741307769041
1Jackson, N.J. and Shaw, M. (2006) Developing subject perspectives on creativity in higher education, in N.J. Jackson et al (eds) Developing Creativity in Higher Education: an imaginative curriculum, London and New York: Routledge 89-108 Available on-line athttp://www.normanjackson.co.uk/creativity.html
2 Dellas, M. and Gaier, E.L. (1970) Identification of Creativity in the Individual Psychological Bulletin 73, 55-73
3 Jackson N J (2016) Introduction Creative Academic Magazine April 2016