Contributions toward a #Manifesto Creativity in HE: 6-Gentle Nudging

For all what we’d like to share the magic of creativity in HE, we shall be gentle and try to persuade participants to engage with it. we must remember that people have been led to believe that creativity is only for few blessed, and they may cringe when invited to a simple drawing exercise… as in every big change we shall do it little by little, and gentle persuasion may work wonders.

For example, let people to decide whether or not to engage with certain exercises, for some drawing is not easy, then give them alternatives and make them easy, most importantly create a safe space with some few rules:

“thou shall not judge”,

“perfection is boring”,

“be kind”

Creating a safe atmosphere, being generous with the materials, providing enough time and a brief but solid explanation of the methodology behind the exercises will help people feel at ease. Be prepared for the few who don’t see value in the creative exercise, it does not really matter because many times the results take longer… also it’s true that you can take the horse to the water but…

Also give time to creativity to happen beyond the class room or the workshop. Trust it, nurture it, give it time…gentle nudging

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Contributions toward a #Manifesto Creativity in HE 5-Bold is beautiful

For years I tried to smuggle in creativity as the shy guest on a high table of scholarship and proper learning and teaching. With time I realised that if I were to make real changes in the way learning and teaching, and research, I had to be bold and embrace creativity and beauty.

Aesthetics and creativity are related cousins, but the notion of beauty has been misunderstood and neglected in higher education. Similarly there is a divorce between ethics and aesthetics, even though in its origins the two terms are related. Aristotle referred to the human goal of living a good life: eudomonia, where beauty and ethics complete a person. For me it’s all about “bonito living” and idea that I’ve been exploring both in my practice as artist and educator. Living beautifully is a way of merging ethics and aesthetics in the daily life: the aim of being good with living a joyful life: a caring, generous, optimistic, healthy life. A life where all around us speak of beauty: from our way to design our slides, tell stories, or dressing for that lecture on gender 🙂

Unfortunately, we have equated “beauty” with “art” and “good art”, being such considerations silly ways of excluding and denying the democractic and free aspects of everyday aesthetics (Dewey!).

This accessibility is provided by creativity in HE and it’s possiblity of transforming lives in learning and teaching. A bold attitude and a brave heart are both beautiful and necessary!

Contributions toward a #Manifesto Creativity in HE: 3-The Arts are for Everyone

Picasso once said: “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he (or she) grows up” Indeed that is the main problem we face when we try to bring creativity into our education. Here of course I must distinguish between art and creativity, as the creative person may be or not an artist. But who is an artist? For many years I thought I was not a “proper artist” because I did not go to the art school, and despite the years of practice and an incurable passion for creativity I felt I was in the closet doing my stuff… I had fallen into the trap of segmentation and distinction as revealed by Foucault as part of the way in which knowledge and power are the two sides of the same coin.

Further, I was made to believe that creativity was only for artists, those gifted with an special aura. And yet we are creative beings by nature: from the moment we are trying to figure out how to live, articulate words, play with toys, imagine stories, or solving problems, researching or understanding complex topics, these are all exercises of creativity.

How to demystify creativity and use arts and art based approaches to tap into the infinite potential of our creativity? How to make arts accessible and practical as mediums for imagination and innovation?

Important figures throughout history have stressed the links between art and science and education: from Leonardo da Vinci, to the great explorer Von humboldt who was poet, geographer and musician, drawing upon Schiller’s aesthetic education of men, to leading thinkers like John Dewey attempting at breaking the barriers between what is high art and popular art through a pragmatic aesthetic. He argues that “the arts do more than provide us with fleeting moments of elation and delight. They expand our horizons. They contribute meaning and value to future experience. They modify our ways of perceiving the world, thus leaving us and the world itself irrevocably changed”

If that is not a definition of magic, then I don’t know what would be!

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