Today, BETWIXT and I had the privilege of presenting at the IOWA READING COUNCIL’S annual meeting in Ames, and to be honest, we had a ball. We read a book, sang a song, discussed creativity, did a short drawing tutorial, and spent a few minutes writing a song together. We had an audience of around 50 educators, and they were a lively bunch, all of them drawing and singing with enthusiasm. I have attached my actual notes that I made for this presentation, so you can view them—I am striving to NOT apologize for their random, handwritten appearance, because part of MY creative process is to grab paper, colorful, fine tipped markers, and just start writing, and the creative process is often a messy one. In this day and age of perfectly aligned fonts, handwritten notes are, in their own way, a beautiful, human thing, and I personally believe taking notes by hand is something that should be encouraged and even taught in school. As far as the colorful pens go, I am a very visual-spatial learner, and the color helps me to visually organize my notes—color is a great tool for making note-taking more fun and engaging. Please feel free to look over my notes and use what you think is valuable. If you reproduce, please give credit to Tracy Lovett www.inclementiowa.com. Thank you!
These notes are generally all about how to actually TEACH creativity to students! Imagine virtually all children graduating high school having 12 years of learning on how to brainstorm, come up with ideas, and execute them! This post is dedicated to simply showing the notes we are working from for our presentation. There will be several links, and I will break down the ideas in future blog posts, but for now, here is the info! Thanks for reading!
Creative Notes.Click on the blue letters at left to see notes all about HOW to teach kids to be creative. WARNING–this will involve a little SELF-EDUCATION on creativity! You must learn it yourself in order to teach it. BUT, nothing says you can’t learn right along with your students! If you prefer more organized notes, without the “character”, I have typed the first portion of them below.
- Creativity needs a safe place to happen. This means that you, as an instructor/parent/adult, are never ever allowed to say words like “I am not creative. I am not an artist. I can’t draw well.” It is very common to have to draw something on the board in front of the class (diagrams of some sort of concept) and to preface your drawing with these words, simply because you feel that your drawing skills may not be up to par. Children sponge this stuff up. And then they compare your drawing to theirs, and immediately place a judgement on their own work that might resemble yours and think to themselves, “Well, my drawing isn’t even as good as the teacher’s. I must not be an artist either.”
- We need to redefine what being an artist (being creative) is. We all believe that artists are creative folk that produce work like paintings, sculpture, books, plays, dances, songs, orchestral pieces, etc. However, what about Michael Jordan, the basketball star? How about Jonas Salk, the scientist who invented the polio vaccine and then gave it away? Albert Einstein? Steve Jobs? Marie Curie? Dr. Martin Luther King? All of these people, and so many more had VISIONS, and they made those VISIONS INTO REALITY. So, that can be our NEW DEFINITION of what an artist is! Instead of painting, clay, words, scripts, musical notes as the only methodology of achieving art, we need to enable children and adults to see that LIFE IS THE MEDIUM. After all, LIFE is a PROBLEM TO BE SOLVED. And the best way to solve the big problems of life is to have IDEAS.
- So, what is the best way to have ideas, be creative, and problem solve? First of all, most creativity happens during some sort of activity that is already creatively based. Drawing, listening to music, sculpting, painting—all of these can stimulate parts of your brain to come up with other ideas. Creative activities BREED ideas. Movement based activities may work well for some people, such as dance, exercise, cleaning, yoga, running, hiking. For others, simply writing lists is a great technique. And this brings us to our next point, and possibly the most powerful tool you can use. Grab a blank book of some sort, and start listing ideas—either random ones, or ones targeted towards a specific project or goal. I call my book and IDEA BOOK, and everyone should get in the habit of adding to it daily, even children as young as kindergarten students. List in it, draw in it, scribble in it, doodle in it, just note down what occurs to you WHEN it occurs—if you don’t get it down, it gets away! Imagine 12th grade students who instinctively KNOW how to create lists of ideas to creatively solve problems and then go forth into the world armed with this knowledge! How much more important is this concept than the ability to memorize facts! If they get the practice in early, and then have it reinforced yearly as they progress through school, this is exactly what could happen! More on the IDEA BOOK in the next few days—I have an entire post planned on the concept.
- Collect your ideas like you collect pretty rocks, realizing that many of your ideas will not be so great. It doesn’t matter. It is the PROCESS of exercising those idea muscles in your brain that is important here. If you make the production of ideas a regular habit, your ideas will get better and better. Use ideas to create things—Art, Music, Games, Books, Goals, Visions, and, ultimately, LIFE.
- COLLABORATION IS POWERFUL! Share your ideas with others who are also creating ideas. Your ideas may breed and mesh into something completely different, powerful, and wonderful! And if you follow rule # 1 and have a SAFE PLACE FOR CREATIVITY, sharing ideas becomes an exciting thing, not a scary thing. BETWIXT and I practice collaboration through my stories and their songs—we always inspire each other. And collaboration is one of the most important skills adults can have in ANY workplace. Teach it at a young age, and never stop reinforcing it.
- Review all ideas regularly, and then decide which ones are actually workable. Pick one of THOSE, and list the first five steps you believe will be required to turn that vision into reality. THEN, do the work!
There you are—the first part of my notes, typed out for easy reading, and, in some cases, they have been expanded. The IDEA BOOK is the concept I will go over tomorrow—lots of ideas there for incorporating that into the school day, and a few rules as well.
Thank you, folks, for reading, and if you attended our presentation today, we would love your feedback! Remember, we are available to do presentations in schools for children and educators. For more information, please get to me at my email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Have a great day, and more to come!
Tracy Lovett is an artist, author, illustrator, photographer, wife, mom, and all around creative gal trying to spread the message that creativity is one of our most important qualities. She uses her books, photographs, and writings to encourage others to just take the chance and be creative. This BLOG is about her creative journey into all her creative endeavors, including writing for children and adults, art and illustration, photography and photo-illustration, and book-building from beginning to end. There may be other “sidetrips” that can’t be predicted–so hop in and enjoy the ride! You may learn more about Tracy here. You may follow her on Facebook here.