My grade 10 art class are working on a major unit on generating ideas and creativity. To make a long story short, they have to visually represent a theme. They are still currently in the research and planning phase. I know their ideas may be adequate, but more often than not, they will require more breadth and depth. As a teacher, how can I push them to try new things? How can I get them to think outside the box?
If you can get your hands on Nicholas Roukes’ book “Design Synectics: Stimulating Creativity in Design,” I highly recommend it (Davis Publications, Amazon). He offers some enlightening challenges and ways to think. It’s pretty much a staple in the art room. His “Art Synectics” book is good as well.
Within the first few pages of Design Synectics, he gets right in to offer ways to challenge your thinking about your subject. I’ve compiled them below into a document for my students to consider and apply. Feel free to use it if it makes sense to you as well! You can also view the pages via Flickr here.
I’ve just finished reading a little book with some big ideas. Phil Beadle’s Dancing About Architecture: A Little Book on Creativity states we must break the rules. Following them leads to mediocrity and being “average.” We do not become brilliant by doing what everyone else does. What I like about the book, is that he stresses teachers should be using the Arts (visual, music, poetry, dance) as ‘pedagogy to create “process-led” collisions to produce new learning experiences for students.’ He’s a big apostle of juxtaposition and focuses on process and letting the outcome float around. What I like is he tells other subject teachers to add the Arts to their curriculum to enhance understanding and involvement. Here are some activities I found particularly of interest:
Drama-Thoughts Aloud into a Sound Collage or Monologue:
Rearrange your class so students have some personal space
Choose a topic of study. Ask students to “Think about (topic)” for 2 minutes with little distraction.
Call students and ask them to offer ‘thoughts aloud’ for the rest of the class. Can also ask them to boil it down to 1 word. From here we can perform a sound collage of words that build up to create an aural slab or mass.
Classes can perform this in a number of ways:
give a stimulus or upsetting situation – students put themselves into the role of the character imagining their plight – think for 2 minutes in that role, then boil down the emotion into 1 word. Teacher can ask for the word on a 3 count where the whole class calls out
another option: kids say their word 3 times the moment the teacher passess them
extension: experiment with volume, put words together into one sentence, then 2, then into a full monologue
[There are a handful of good, similar activities that also teach empathy.]
Visual Art as Stimulus: Use art as stimulus for a written guided visualisation exercise. This can be done to examine relationships through drama & as a basis of study on how body language gives us away. Look at famous works of art and their poses. Teachers can use this as stimulus for writing an imaginative script which had an exploratory look at dialogue.
Visual Art as Recording Method: You can record sophisticated symbolic thought through cartoons. Why do students always have to write an essay? Why not create a political cartoon? Wouldn’t the study of comic art & convention both engage & teach?
Speaking in a Number: Write a poem using the fibonacci sequence. Use the sequence as fittings for syllables. Think haiku meets math.
My notes probably make no sense to you. Go read the book instead.
Following on from my previous post on creativity, inspirational advice etc., I began going through my Diigo bookmarks again reviewing other similar items. I made a list. 40 things I have found useful to get and stay creative. Try not to snicker, but for me, I have found these things helpful and make attempts to remember them. As I try to further learn Adobe Illustrator, I decided to import the list into that. Below you can find my three designs and if you click each picture, it will take you to a higher resolution image on Flickr, where you can download it if you wish. I’m not sure if it is finished, or if I am satisfied, but sometimes it is good just to stop and produce. If you have additional offers or advice, feel free to leave a comment. (Yes, I know I probably could have achieved the same effect and probably gotten it done faster if I simply used Word or Pages)
I’ve just finished reading Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon and since its release, it seems to be everywhere. It is described as a “manifesto for creativity in the digital age.” He makes some convincing statements and I’ve noticed I’ve done some of his “strategies” whilst growing up without realizing it, or putting it into words. When I say “growing up,” that includes up to present day.
In his first chapter of advice, it’s a similar argument Kirby Ferguson makes in his “Everything Is A Remix” documentary (which you should watch if you haven’t). With this in mind, I love the comparison Kleon makes between good and bad theft (pictured below). It’s a great discussion: Is anything truly original anymore? We’re all influenced by what came previously, whether intentional or not. I must say, the list looks simple, but it is written arguably well and is a bit motivational. It’s a quick read if you don’t take the time to ponder it (and not heavily priced). If interested, you can read my brief chapter summaries here. The book left me remembering the work of others, which I’ll post about soon.
Yet more ammunition on the power of doodling. From TED: “Studies show that sketching and doodling improve our comprehension — and our creative thinking. So why do we still feel embarrassed when we’re caught doodling in a meeting? Sunni Brown says: Doodlers, unite! She makes the case for unlocking your brain via pad and pen.” Watch the 6 minute presentation here. Did you know doodling assists all four modalities of learning?
Nancy Duarte just posted a blog entry on Sunni Brown showcasing her new book, Gamestorming. This book includes more than 80 games to help you break down barriers, communicate better, and generate new ideas, insights, and strategies. I am writing this though for the five month old video she embedded. The video is described as: “Sunni Brown is the leader of The Doodle Revolution – a growing effort to debunk the myth that doodling is a distraction. Using common sense, experience, and neuroscience, Sunni proves that doodling is a way to ignite your whole mind.”
Recently I went to see an exhibit of Karl Hyde’s artwork (of Underworld fame) in Tokyo. His abstracts led me try it out as it simply involves balance, movement and colour. It’s actually more difficult than it sounds. Anyways, I thought I’d add it as adoodle activity and hopefully have students realise that you don’t have to be a super technical artist to have attractive work. Watch how it is poorly done in my video below and view the exhibition promo clip if interested.
Here’s a question for you: If you had to come up with an “anti-creativity checklist” for your organization… a checklist guaranteed to stifle imagination, innovation, and out-of-box thinking… a checklist designed specifically for people who want nothing to do with disruptive change… what would your checklist look like? With a wink toward the irreverent, here’s mine. (www.youngmemoon.com)
Even though this video has a business slant, it is interesting and I am considering creating something similar for my art students. (Thanks to @theresamcgeeart for sharing via Twitter)