Kynan Robinson, a music teacher and ICT coordinator from our Australian PLP community, shares his thoughts about how confusion helps creativity.( Cross-posted on his blog and the first of several.)

Currently I am involved in a fantastic project titled PLP Connect U, a joint project with the Victoria Department of Education and Powerful Learning Practice. It is a fairly open-ended project designed around creating better learning and teaching practice through the development of networks and communities of learners.

The approach seems to be a fairly organic one where outcomes are not set in stone but are variable dependent on where the groups push or pull them. This approach creates some fairly messy as well as interesting discussions as well as generating confusion. Confusion is one of my favorite states, and a state I thoroughly endorse when it comes to teaching practice as it seems to allow for new models of unexpected thinking to push through.

I was recently at a conference where clarity was the buZZ phrase. Students must have total clarity of the desired learning outcome at all times to better enhance their learning ability. For me that is a method that, while having some merit some of the time, is not necessarily something that will lead to new thinkings within the student’s mind so therefore has its limitations.

I am also a part of a group within the PLPConnectU Project entitled Creativity, and it is full of great thinkers trying to deepen their students educational experiences and allow for a more creative approach to learning. We were recently asked to comment on the subject of what we were wondering about, and I replied with the following.

I am wondering about the following things I’ve read recently. While sounding esoteric they might actually be relevant in a group with the title creativity,

The first is a short statement by Arthur Rimbaud a French Poet

“I say a man must be a seer

Make oneself a seer

The poet makes himself a seer by a lengthy, massive and deliberate disordering of all the senses”

1871

Secondly a statement which follows similar lines found in a book called The Art of Looking Sideways.

“Creativity is a compulsive human urge which demands ritual actions or routine responses and is valid only when one is trading beyond experiences.

The word creativity is frequently appropriated to enhance the mediocre or justify the mundane. That ceaseless and frenetic activity -easy to mistake for purposeful action – which without anything new to say only produces noise and aggregate. No new thoughts no magic moments just more activities in which process becomes product. The true creative act is something else it produces something which never existed before. Whether of small consequence or great significance. A glimpse of the blindingly obvious ignited by the heat off the wires caused by short circuiting thoughts. Insight is unreasoning.

Of course what might appear to be a spontaneous thought may well have been a long time cooking in the unconscious.”

I think these two comments make powerful statements about true creativity requiring a lot of work and space and dedication and support to allow it to find it’s way through because to “deliberately disorder all the senses” is a courageous and difficult thing to try. Reordering of the senses is talking about realigning meaning to everything or reassigning different meaning to things.

This is something I personally do a lot of, and it is something that has come to influence almost all of my art practice. I know how difficult it is to do, and the consequences of doing it are sometimes very confusing. Sometimes by reassigning meaning you actually rub up against society and the norms of society which can be very powerful things. But generally out of that confusion comes a moment of absolute inspiration.

This is the creative thought. This is the new thought, this is what allows me to perceive the future, and this would never have come to me if I had been told the intention of the lesson.

Confusion can be a good thing and I wonder how much of it do we allow our students to live in it. Creativity is so much more than providing an art lesson or finger painting or whatever other process based work you would like to see an outcome to.. it is about a commitment to original thought and the difficult process that actually is.

Feel free to comment. These are just thoughts I am trying to better formulate in my own mind when it comes to teaching practice.

If your’re interested in my art practice I have documented some of it here http://kynanrobinson.wordpress.com/

image credit: By wakalani

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Powerful Learning Practice

During a 25-year education career, Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach has been a classroom teacher, technology coach, charter school principal, district administrator, university instructor and digital learning consultant. Sheryl is the co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Powerful Learning Practice, where she works with schools and districts from around the world to re-envision their learning cultures and communities through the Connected Learner Experience and other e-learning opportunities. She is the author (with Lani Ritter Hall) of The Connected Educator: Learning and Leading in a Digital Age (Solution Tree, 2012) and serves on the ISTE Board of Directors.

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