Creativity begins with understanding…
Note: this is another throw back post I wrote originally in early October
As you may know from previous posts, I’d been teaching my Korean Kindergarten kids about gardens. Among what they’d learnt was the concepts of digging and using shovels.
After my first month I have to admit I hadn’t done a great job of ensuring the kids actually understood what I’m teaching them. Granted, I am by no means a teacher so how could I even begin know how to gauge whether they were understanding or not.
You reading this and the parents of the children will probably be glad to know I’ve come a long way since originally writing this.
Teaching: tougher than you’d think. More on that another day, in another post.
One of my Korean colleagues had taken it upon herself to show me the ropes and grow as a teacher. For which I am eternally – or at the very least, the length of this year – grateful for.
I was able to instantly see the kids grasping the knowledge better and benefiting from the increased structure in our lessons.
One day was I was eating lunch with them, and one of the kids screamed “shovel!” as I drove my spoon into my rice.
I can use chopsticks but have chosen not to unless necessary – like I’m out for dinner with a Korean girl or someone I need to impress.
I looked at my spoon for a minute and laughed to myself. Yes, my spoon is a form of shovel and I was digging into my rice.
Kids are smart…
That was the second time something like that happened that day. previous to lunch, I was discussing squares, triangles and circles with some younger kids. At one point in the lesson we were playing a game where I placed objects around the room – objects in the shape of a square, triangle or circle – and the children had to run and grab the object I called for.
I sent two boys after a triangle during one round. Now, I had only placed one of each shape around the room so it was a competition who could recognize and grab the shape first.
One boy grabbed my object and came running back to me. The second boy followed closely behind with another object..
A plastic piece of pie which he found on one of the classroom shelves. You might be thinking that’s not the most impressive feat. But for a 5 year old child to recognize that object as what I had asked for in a secondary language for him I thought was very creative. Just as seeing a spoon as a shovel.
These kids were able to get creative, because they understood.
The truth about creativity…
These moments have me thinking about creativity. I don’t believe creativity happens randomly, or often by complete accident. I think you really need to understand your craft before you can get creative with it.
Take for example musicians. A beautiful guitar rift could be considered creative. One doesn’t simply pick up a guitar and hit notes at random and come out with a masterpiece. I mean maybe it’s happened before, but the statistical significance of that happening has to be extremely low. I digress.
That artist must know the guitar inside and out before he can truly start making history with it.
This realization makes the importance of knowledge so much more powerful. Creativity starts with understanding.
Think about anyone famous in history considered ‘a creative individual’. They were completely immersed in their craft and because of that reached that creative status.
Mozart was creative with music
Picasso was creative with paint
Einstein was creative with his thoughts of physics and the universe
Steve Jobs was creative in thinking how we interact with electronics
Stephen King is creative with words.
If you want to get creative and disrupt the world, you’ve got to do the work to gain the knowledge.
Creativity begins with understanding.
I believe a great way to truly understand your studies is to write about it, and try to explain it to others. If you can’t explain a concept simply to someone you cannot understand it yourself. And to understand it deeply, you need to be able to explain it simply.
This is part of the reason I love writing and blogging.
Think about starting your own blog to write about your craft. Not only will it aid in gaining knowledge on the subject, but it will also work to mark you as a player in your given field.
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