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Creativity in Play

It snowed. Not much, just about 2-3 inches. My dodge Durango with its non-functioning four-wheel drive could get around ok, so I didn’t really pay that much attention to the snow. My eleven year old had plans though. “Yes, I can make snowmen!” he declared. The snow was of the powdery sort, that doesn’t even make good snow balls. I did not tell him this, better for him to find out on his own. He must have because about a half hour later he returned and asked to make snow ice cream. I looked outside and the first thought to cross my mind was “heck no!”, but I didn’t say this. We live in and apartment complex, and although there is a huge grassy field right next to us I did not like the idea. Instead I told him that the snow wasn’t high enough. If we had still lived on the mountain, I would have given clearance. I was preparing to leave out and did not want my kitchen destroyed over two or three cups of snow ice cream, this has happened in the past. He disappeared. My friends arrived to pick me up. As I rushed out the door to the parking lot, I walked past a large mound of snow that the plow had pushed to the side. My son popped out from a hole at the base. ” I’m making a tunnel”. Safety first, I did a quick ‘mother scan’ of his current project. The top looked quite sturdy against collapse, and the foundation secure, still I issued a safety warning as I continued on to the car.

I returned home from grocery shopping late in the evening, the kids ran out the car to help with bags. “Did you see my tunnel?” my son asked.  Watching as he went into the top of the mound and came out from one of the hole in the base. He had obviously been very busy while I was away. When I took a look there were several entrances and exits, as well as two neat foot path leading to his tunnel, all done with his hands. “Very nice”, I told him.

It makes me happy to see children put their creative energies to work and produce something that the they can be proud of. Now if he will stop walking around my house with sopping wet socks, I’d be even happier.

This is my type of creativity!

Stopping the Flow

    I was in alone in a Masjid, taking a few random photos,  when I had a flashback.  This past Summer, a friend needed some photos for a brochure or something of the sort, this was not a problem I wasn’t very busy at the time. As she gave instructions about what images were needed, she stated several times “be creative, or try getting some creative shots”.

So I set to work on taking the photos, but after  a few minutes, I was stumped. What did she mean by “creative shots or be creative?”  What was her idea of creative? I had my own ideas. I had been photographing this Masjid for so many years, documenting the ongoing construction. I knew that there were but so many imaginative shots that I was going to produce in there. Standing there looking around the large rectangular room,  I felt as if someone had dropped a stone into a stream of water and stopped the flow.

Since companies are trying to unleash the creative beast within their employees, I wonder if they “command” creativity, or do they simply develope creative environments where  people are inspired to be creative without prompting (GooglePlex, Pixar etc).  So many of the blogs that I have been reading lately seem to stating that creativity all levels  of is the new group think (if that’s a word). But what happens if two people have ideas that do not mesh with one another?

I find that when I am left alone,  I am more likely to experiment and try to surpass other creative ideas that  I’ve concocted. Of course there are times when I slam into a brick wall and to me my photos will become so redundant that I won’t look at them for weeks.

However, I find being instructed to “be creative” ended up causing more anxiety than inspiration.


One small step in creativity

Last week I had the opportunity (almost missed it) to participate in an Elluminate presentation by Russell Schoen. I actually enjoyed this interactive session in which we had to figure out what type of creative thinkers we are , and what methods work best when it comes to unleashing individual creativeness. I was inspired. So much so, that after the session ended I was brainstorming ways to incorporate these methods on a daily basis while educating my children. I wanted to get started immediately, but how?

I sat on my bed staring at my aquarium surrounded by house plants, and daydreamed. Then realized, wait the rug is wet.  Wonderful, now the carpet was soaked. It turns out that while rearranging my room and moving my 5 gallon aquarium yet again, an old crack had finally opened up( the tank is acrylic and belonged to my brother). After moving the two goldfish to a fish bowl, I wondered what to do with the tank and gravel. I did not want to throw it away because it looked useful. I wandered around my room a bit until my eyes rested upon a pack of lettuce seeds that I never got to plant this summer. An idea was hatched. I’d add a layer of soiled over the gravel, there was a trace of water under that, so I planted the seeds. Two days later, with the aid of the aquarium light, the seeds sprouted, much to the astonishment of my children. My 10 yr. old was so fascinated that I found some pepper and flower seeds and let him throw those in. Would you believe that everyone walks into my room, and peers into the tanks to check the seedlings? ( ok so I do it too) I do not understand what the big deal is , we have gardened for years so watching seeds turn into an edible plant is not new.

So, that was my trial in creativity, lettuce seeds in a tank. Now onto something bigger……

Sometimes We Forget


Transliteracy… What if…

So I have been reading  and watching You Tube videos in an attempt to understand transliteracy.  From what I have come to understand, it is simply the ability to learn from a variety of methods and resources. For more educational purposes there is this definition- “Transliteracy is the ability to read, write and interact across a range of platforms, tools and media from signing and orality through handwriting, print, TV, radio and film, to digital social networks”. –  Sounds more professional.  Yes, in this world where we can press a button and speak to someone on the other side of the world, and even those who are not ( astronauts), transliteracy is a requirement. Even for those who “live off the grid”, unless you are Amish, you may have to press a button or enter a code when interacting with the rest of our highly connected society.

Experiments are being conducted in schools where electronic classrooms are quickly becoming the norm. Some schools are completed wired, the students all have laptops instead of textbooks, and I saw one experiment last year where students were given tablets that are connected to Khan Academy instead of mathbooks.  I think that it is crucial that a teacher or student can use any resource available to teach or learn. At the same time I believe in the 3r’s. I have taught students who did not grasp multiplication concepts  via computer animations, hands- on materials, or pen and paper. What did I do? I pulled out a Pilot Arithmatic mathbook printed in 1832 and took the lesson back to the basics “3 fives are 15 , plus one” , and so on. Oral repetition, it worked and helped reinforce the lesson for the few students who needed reinforcement.

All of this research on transliteracy and  metaliteracy has caused me wonder, what would happen if the Great Plug of Connectivity were to be pulled instantly and indefinitely?

Is quiet necessary for creativity?

I was driving along with minor disturbances from my children and grandchildren in the background, and formulated a question, is quiet a necessity for the creative thought process? From my personal experience , I’d immediately answer yes. I’d say that I am pretty outgoing, I enjoy meeting people, and human interactions to a certain degree.  On the other hand, when the spark of an idea for a project, a song, or a creative way to complete a task begins to formulate in my mind, stay away. I will snap on you.  People may get the impression that I am sitting doing nothing (rare thing), or if I am not speaking I am being anti-social. I am usually engaged it deep thought, mental working or creating or problem solving. I’ve learned over the years that visualization is a powerful tool.  ‘If you can dream it, you can achieve it’, saw that on a calendar or some place. What would this world be without ideas born within the mind of  millions?

Were they all born within a quiet environment?  If not, what of those creative thoughts that arise surround by noise and chaos? Are those creations better?  Are they more lively, brighter or more colorful? I thought back to 2009 when I taught a third grade class at a private school. We were working on a Mother’s Day project, making a paper hand out of construction paper holding tissue paper flowers. The students were free to choose the color paper, and design the flowers and write sayings on the hands if they wanted. I made a model so that  they could see a finished product. Of course, I had a student who couldn’t do it before I had even passed out the paper. Others needed various levels of assistance. The girls in particular wanted theirs to look just like mine, but I wanted originality and creativity from all.  Thinking back, a few students sat staring at their paper or watching others work. Others set to work immediately and whole- heartedly creating a gift from the outline of their own hands.  The girls formed a group and worked and helped one another, and though they were trying not to copy one another, I noticed variations of the project of one of the girls who a bit more creative. The boys talked away started and restarted some of their hands. Two boys worked alone  quietly, they usually did. The student who “couldn’t  do it”, ended up having one of the quiet workers make his (I found this out later).

So which ones came out better? The children who worked in a group or the student who worked alone?  I cannot answer that, I was just happy that everyone completed a project to take home. I am wondering, if that one student needed silence to work on a craft project? Did the other boys simply tune out everyone around them. If the girls had a really quiet place to work alone, would they have created a more enhanced design than the one taught? Do all artist or designers need quiet initially, then plunge into ‘noise’ to push their ideas to into a concrete reality?

I don’t know the answers, but I tell you do not interrupt when I am quiet.

First Blog

So, I have been  forced to write a blog. Actually a few friends suggested that I do so about a year ago. What for?  I asked. To me blogs just seem to be postings of random and not so random thoughts about life.  Ok, I actually read a lot of DIY blogs on almost anything, especially if  I want to learn from another persons experience. Yet some blogs ( like this one), are simply about nothing, leaving me to wonder why they are posted at all.

You see, I am returning to college , to finish what I started about twenty years ago.  Most communication and assignments will be through the World Wide Web, the world’s boundriless meeting place. In addition to a few basics such as Algebra and Degree planning and Visual Literacy,  I am enrolled in a Creativity and Multicultural Communication course.  It  does not begin until September 12th, therefore I cannot fully explain it.  What I do know is that it is interactive, and that I’ve been forced to blog. It is a requirement for the course.

I chose to use WordPress only because a friend mentioned it to me about a year ago. It took me about a half hour to choose a theme. I sorted through five pages only to go back to the Andrea theme on page one.  Then I had to pick a background color, I instinctively gravitated to blue. But will other readers be able to tolerate blue  I wondered? Perhaps black or dark grey. I used these on a website when I shared photos once and the color definitely made the photos stand out. What am I supposed to write about? I have eight children, blogging about life with them may cause anyone employed in the psychiatric field to post their contact information in the comment box. I have two grandsons, I think that I am too young to blog about those two  cute, adorable, huggable,  kissable, chunky cheeked little boys.  Nah, that’s for older people right? (smooch on the cheek  Jammer and Dot). I am Muslim. But wait, Sept. 11th is approaching, someone may misinterpret a simple blog about being a Muslim lady in America, and forward it to Homeland Security, that’s if they are not reading this already. So what’s left?

We shall see.

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