Reigniting Creative Confidence
Is it possible to instill lost creative confidence? What is creative confidence?
Creative confidence is the confidence in one’s creative skills and abilities. Unfortunately, most people lose their creative confidence by adult hood. We are going to explore some ways to flame the embers and reignite creativity and imagination. Let’s start with makerspace.
What is a Makerspace?
There many connotations of a Makerspace or Makerspace Lab, there are also no definitive definitions of a makerspace allowing broad interpretation and implementation. A makerspace is usually a dedicated place that provides hands-on, creative ways to encourages design, experiment, and invention while also engaging in science, engineering and “tinkering.” A makerspace is more than a “lab”, woodshop, computer lab or an art room, but it contains elements found in all of those while promoting interdisciplinary and transdiscplinary concepts and applications. A makerspace is designed to accommodate a wide-range of activities, tools, materials, that deeply promotes creativity and using items and a new and different way. It promotes creativity in a safe environment while also having constructive constraints.
What are components of Makerspace?
There are no predefined components of a makerspace. The components of a makerspace are often defined by budget and availability of products. It is often recommended that items are rotated allowing variety and exposure on a consistent basis. Common components of a makerspace include:
· A room that has large flat tables, comfortable chairs and computers that have virtual design capability and 3D printers
· The room should also have multiple shelves and multiple containers providing easy access to all the items
· A large variety of construction paper and cardboard varying in size and color
· A large variety of textile and sewing materials
· A large variety of small pieces of wood, nails, screws, and fasteners
· A large variety of adhesive materials such as common glue, wood glue, and cloth glue
· A large variety of hand tools such as scissors, hammers, drills, and saws (used safely and under adult supervision)
· A large variety of decorative smalls allowing the participants to decorate and personalize their creations
· Any other items that can stimulate creativity including tubing, plastic lids, empty water bottles, etc.
Depending on the situation and budget a portable makerspace allowing participants to “engage” in the process is possible but participants are not engaged to same degree.
Why do adults lose imagination and creativity?
Do people lose creativity as they get older? There are many in academia believe so but why? Why are young people excited about “just playing” and making things but adults typically avoid it and “lose their creativity?”
It is often said that expertise is the enemy of creativity. As people get older they tend to “become stagnant” in their thinking, i.e. fixed mindset. To quote Albert Einstein, “Imagination is more important to knowledge.” However, society and educational systems place a high priority of knowledge and a low priority on imagination and creativity. There are multiple studies that show 98% of 5 year olds test as highly creative while less that 5% of adults do so. Adults don’t necessary “lose” creativity but we learn habits that limit or diminish our creativity mindsets.
There are multiple reasons why people often lose imagination and creativity as they transition from youth to adults. One primary reason is that they might have been ridiculed for their creations early in life resulting in dampening or extinguishing the imagination spark. This could have been done by a fellow student, adult, parent, or teacher. Regardless of whether it was intentional or not, the result was that that person’s imagination and creativity was extinguished or diminished and not allow to grow and flourish.
There are other contributing factors that impede imagination and creativity in adults. As people acquire “thought techniques” three things often happen:
1. We become more effective in navigating difficult situations and solving problems through “life experiences” using solutions that have worked in the past.
2. We adapt to social norms and accepted “ways of thinking” allowing more effective interactions with people and society.
3. We become prisoners of our own success. Sticking with “what works” and has worked in the past creates barriers and misses enigmatic paths that could lead to unexpected surprises.
People who are in creative professions have had to develop personal systems to use their imagination and stay creative. They may seek counsel from professionals outside of their profession, read and study on wide variety of topics, and be able to see situations and problems from multiple perspectives. They learn how to balance life experiences while allowing themselves to be “whimsical” at times.
Is it possible to reignite imagination and creativity?
Through cognitive reappraisal or restructuring adults can overcome phobias and fears through strategic methodologies. How can this be applied to reignite imagination and creativity? This can be accomplished through focused workshops and training in:
· Radical collaboration from multiple disciplines, perspectives, and backgrounds. Everyone brings something “fresh” to the table.
· Real-world projects that address real-world challenges and opportunities. This provides relevance and meaning to the problem.
· Unbounded problems in which there are no single right answer while also being complex and ambiguous. Participants are given opportunities to experiment, fail and try again.
How does this connect with Robotics?
Another way to keep students engaged in creativity through elementary, middle, high school and college is in robotics. Robotics engage students in creativity by:
· Urging students to do or think about things differently and letting students create their own solutions. Phrases such as “what do you think?” promotes creative problem solving.
· Robotics frequently present open-ended challenges that do not lead to a single solution. Forcing students to experiment changes the way they think about approaching problems and encourages creativity.
· Students who are not exposed to open-ended challenges can struggle with multiple solutions and become fixated with single correct answers, thus stifling their imagination and creativity. It is important to reinforce to students that the core of creative thinking involves an element of risk. This is another example of “growth mindset.”
There are many studies and personal narratives on the decline of imagination and creativity from youth to adulthood. While many align this creative decline to simply aging brains, that cannot take into account why creative paths differ by domain, lifetime output or the time someone embarks on his or her career. After all, late bloomers often reach their creative peaks when early bloomers are past their prime. So, the good news is that it is possible to reignite extinguished imagination for some while keeping it lite for others throughout one’s life span.