Orson Scott Card is inspirational in his book and in his approach to creativity. Ender’s Game is read a few times a year around here just for fun, and a few years ago I met him in a little bookshop in the North part of Raleigh, NC. He was amiable and engaging. The idea of creativity within the lines is incredible.
Education and creativity take time.
But they also take a framework within which to operate. We normally say thinking outside the box is healthy, but I think it’s actually defined as psychosis. The phrase ‘thinking outside the box’ has become so over used that it is an ‘in the box’ way of thinking.
What do we usually mean then when we use this phrase?
We are talking about creativity and engaging ways to deal with problems or presenting novel solutions. Interestingly enough both of those things take time and space where people are not told what to do or think but have to work it out for themselves – and interestingly enough stuff that people are told both to do and to think aide in engaging the process.
In other words we want people to be able to write, design, play in ways that are new and unique to them while still dealing with the paradigms or boxes they are put with in. Because creativity doesn’t come from throwing away the rule book or the challenges that we face, it comes from engaging with the challenges that we are faced with.
Card talks about being forced to write 100 sonnets before he was allowed to write free verse. The form forced him to have to truly engage with what he was writing so as to illicit the response he desired. I’ve heard the same from multiple poets and authors, that the form taught them something about what they were doing and shaped their creativity.
Then he went back to the free verse.
Picasso has painting that rival Rembrandt or any of the other classical painters. At a young age he could top just about any of them, but when he was done he went on to create something new to communicate his art. I’m not sure about how he felt about his early portraits. I do imagine he learned from them.
When we talk about creativity, let’s not try to exist in some artistic nether sphere or creation ex-nihilo. Let’s not go outside the box, let’s find the best ways we can image and try them out with a spirit of exploration guiding us to find and deal with the problems and the forms that are out there!
Aside for those who have watched the video: I agree that kids should probably be in school for only 5-6 hours a day, and younger kids far less. I agree that homework shouldn’t be the priority (it definitely wasn’t for me until Seminary) especially for young children. I would just like to add this in: teachers need extra time to be creative with their lessons as well. It’s impossible to plan everything you need in the dinky little planning period given to hard working teachers. The ways that I have seen the teachers I had and the teachers I know (including my wife) find ways of being creative in exhaustion boggle my mind. They are deeply impressive folks.