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Creativity and Collaboration

Updated: Jul 5, 2021

Recently, I watched the movie The Creative Brain by David Eagleman. It got me thinking about how I constantly tell my students to be creative, but struggle to provide a clear roadmap to thinking creatively. Eagleman argues that we can only break our mindless habits and routines when we encounter and exchange new ideas. Unconscious mental processes, developed from years of prior experience, determine many decisions we make automatically, without deliberation. Great conversations interrupt the predictable rhythm of our lives and allow us to consider multiple points of view. Virginia Woolf always says it best: “Her pleasant brown eyes resembled Ralph’s, save in expression, for whereas he seemed to look straightly and keenly at one object, she appeared to be in the habit of considering everything from many different points of view" (Night and Day).

We call an invention or an idea creative because it makes our lives easier and better at the same time. T.S. Eliot in “Tradition and the Individual Talent” proposes that a poet must read all the great poets of the past before sitting down to write. The challenge then, lies not only in understanding the work of those who came before you, but in forging a new, different, and individual style of your own.

The art of teaching is complex. We must have a deep understanding of the small slice of reality covered in our course and possess authenticity, passion, flexibility, and wit. Most importantly, however, we must have the ability to inspire greatness and excellence. That’s a lot to ask. How can we best spend our time if we want to achieve these goals? I’d argue, by really listening to each other, by sharing stories from our classrooms. By hearing the ideas and philosophies of teachers.

As a student in college, I always loved the conversation that happened with my classmates after we walked out of the classroom. What were the implications of what we learned? How would we use what we learned?

Our entire reality, a construct of natural laws, culture, and design, exists because of imagination and improves because of collaboration.

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