the myth of a creative class - part two

After sitting through the Creative Class session, Paul the Pre-Industrial Poet says to me, "I'm bothered by his message. Tools are great. I don't deny that. It's just that I don't believe that complex tools equal complex thinking."

I add, "A motion picture is complex but it leaves little to the mind. A picture might be worth a thousand words, but I'll take Tolstoy and Twain over anything Edison can produce."

"And I don't believe that there has to be a special elite class of people who use creativity for economic and social pursuits."

"It's a bit insulting to those who work blue-collar jobs."

"I had the same thought. Look, my dad was a slave. We had no tools.  To those in power we were the tools. But listen to the songs we produced.  Listen to the oral history we told.  Take a glimpse at the Underground Railroad for a minute.  We shaped farming in ways that people will never know.  We changed American cuisine. We were a Creative Class as well."

*      *      *

A few days ago, I gave my daughter a box. She didn't think outside the box. She turned the box into a cave and into a horse and into a home for her doll. I didn't tell her that she had to be creative. She has the creative impulse because she is human. We are made to be creative.

If I want my students to be creative, I won't tell them to be creative. I won't explain to them that they can be part of the great Creative Class. I'll give them freedom. I'll make learning meaningful. The tools will not "require creativity." Creative thinkers will find the tools and use them in innovative ways.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous1:34:00 PM

    I agree that tools do not require creativity. But good tools do allow one to express creativity---to turn thought into action.

    Case in point: I'm a crummy artist because I have a poor visual memory, poor ability to compare sizes, and terrible hand-eye control. But I was able to design some pretty decent art work for a T-shirt for my class, using Photoshop Elements. I couldn't possibly draw the art with a pencil, but I could cut and paste pieces, rescale things, clean things up with the brush and eraser tools, add text, and produce a T-shirt design I'm pleased with ... using the appropriate tools.

    Creative thinkers *don't* always find the tools. It is part of our job as educators to help students find tools that they can use and help them learn to use them, so that they can express their creativity. The tools don't spark creativity, but the lack of tools can inhibit creativity.