Playing for creativity

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“Creativity is a greater predictor of later success than IQ”, the presenter announced. “But do we teach creativity out of our kids?” My ears are provoked into action whenever the word creativity bouncing across from the TV. This time it was from ABC’s “Life at 9”.

They defined creativity as more than an artistic ability. Instead, it’s the ability to “step into life’s problems”.  We usually have to work through lots of possible solutions before we get to a decent one.  Giving up doesn’t help.

I particularly noted the idea that creativity involves a willingness to make mistakes and a deliberate non conformance. (I then personally noted all the problems I could create if I applied those two attitudes 100%.) Yet, I believe that creativity is an essential life skill. We must be willing to make mistakes (which doesn’t mean spending the day happily making them!), and answers are sometimes found only when we look “outside the box” (bearing in mind that the Rule of Law has a purpose).

The program mentioned the tremendous focus we place on performance these days – at school, at work, even during the weekend when running around on the sports field. This focus on performance reduces our play time. And therein lies the problem, because it is play time that enhances our creativity. (Notice how I don’t equate sport with play! The ref’s whistle is a sure indicator that non-conformance will not be tolerated.)

The take home message for me from “Life at 9” was that we need time to let our imaginations roam. We must create opportunities to be creative.

My response

Every now and then, I manage to make something I really like. These spur me on. For example, I have a small, green, shell-like bowl that sits in the kitchen. It isn’t perfect, but I love to pick it up and run my fingers over it (after I’ve washed off the dust!).

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Green bowl

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I thought that being disciplined and organised would increase the number of successful pottery pieces that emerged from the kiln. Perhaps it would have, eventually. But as every potter will attest, you can’t always control for kiln meltdowns.

In response to what I heard on “Life at 9”, and in response to the stagnation that resulted after the kiln disaster last year, I’ve re-engineered my approach to my pottery practice. Out with any attempts at professionalism. In with play.

My space

Were you ever told to “Go outside and play”? It implies we need a lot of space. We don’t.

A space for experimenting with clay emerged in a corner of my home. It’s two paces square and filled with second hands. Second hand shelves. Second hand lamp. Second hand computer table that is now a work bench. Butcher’s paper, apron, towel and the rubbish bin all hang from a frame that has been re-purposed.  Even the high stool is not for sitting.  It’s just the right height for kneading the clay.

It seems I was already meeting the non-conformance criteria.

I have five pieces ready for the bisque kiln. They are a hotchpotch of forms made from four slabs of clay. One plate didn’t make it this far. That’s OK. I’m willing to make mistakes.

I wonder how many will survive through to the end?

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Does your hobby allow you space to play? Or does it bend your will as if to some form of referee’s whistle?

What are your thoughts?

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