Creativity – Nature or Nurture?

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Are we born to be creative, or is creativity learned?  In 1996, an article ran in Psychology Today.  It was written by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, and it’s titled “The Creative Personality”.  The lead reads:

Creative individuals are remarkable for their ability to adapt to almost any situation and to make do with whatever is at hand to reach their goals.”

That sounds about right.  So, is the creative mind the result of genetics, or is creativity something that needs to be nurtured?  Or, like most things… is it a combination?

Take music and art for example.  Anybody that’s interested in music can take music lessons.  People can learn precise drawing techniques.   They can gain the technical skill required, and they can practice.  It’s been my experience that sometimes as person can be quite skilled, but something’s missing.  The music doesn’t flow through them.  The emotion is missing from the art.  Are they short on natural talent?

What about the idea that mental health is tied into creativity?   You can turn to Scientific American for information on this topic.  Scott Barry Kaufman, in his 2013 article “The Real Link Between Creativity and Mental Illness”, sets the record straight, saying:

Mental illness is neither necessary nor sufficient for creativity.”

As someone who make their living as a writer, I’m going to stick with Mr. Kaufman.

Now… I would argue that creativity is at least partially the result of a genetic predisposition.  Under the guise of submitting evidence, I’m going to brag about my family.  My oldest son plays the drums, and makes beautiful custom furniture for a living.  His wife is a wedding and life event photographer.  My second son plays guitar, and does tint and vinyl graphics for vehicles.  He’s married to a talented pastry chef.  My third son is a bass player, and works as a videographer and photographer.  His wife is often his second shooter.  My daughter is an artist, a photographer, and a high school art teacher.  She’s married to an artist who is also a photographer.

My sister owns an art center that also teaches dance and theater.  Her husband plays bass.  Her oldest daughter has a party paper business, and her younger daughter is an actress in New York.

From this anecdotal evidence, you could conclude that heredity has something to do with creativity.  You could also guess that creatives attract other creatives.   My children have the benefit of having a maternal grandmother and grandfather that are talented musicians.  They also have a paternal great-grandfather that was a gifted musician.  Their maternal great-grandfather and great-grandmother were also musicians.  I guess it was hard for them to avoid a love of music.  Too bad it skipped me… although I sound great singing in the shower, it’s mostly technical skill, I think.

Whenever they talk about budget reduction in schools, they seem to pick on art and music first.  So many kids get the perfect opportunity for their talent and enjoyment of the arts at school.  What will happen if we lose that at some point?  Will we, as parents or grandparents, be equipped to nurture and encourage kids in the arts at home?

Is a creative personality enough, or is training, development, an encouragement necessary?  I think that we need both to find ourselves and lead the creative life.  Going back to the article in Psychology Today, Mihaly calls it “full-blast living“.

I love that!

-Cat

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let’s Get Metaphysical

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I met a man at a networking event yesterday.  He started to tell the group that he’s writing a book.  As a writer, this made me curious.  He went on to say that the book will be about physics… and metaphysics.  I thought that was really interesting, then he took it a step further, and said that as an ordained minister, he thought it would be fun to add a little religion into the book as well.

I want to read this book.

When I have a chance to watch TV I like to watch documentaries.  We cut our cable cord a few months ago, so we stream television content over a ROKU device, or our smart TV.  I love the fact that there are so many shows about physics, metaphysics, and quantum physics.  To me it’s just fascinating to explore the origins of the universe, the laws of Newtonian physics, metaphysical explorations of the soul, and the possibility that anything is possible.

So, we define physics as a science involving matter, motion, space, time, energy, and force.  Through physics we look for explanations of how the universe works.

Metaphysics, on the other hand, is a philosophical study.  In metaphysics we explore abstract topics of being, reality, and existence.  Why are we here?  What does it all mean? Where is the soul located in the body?  We have some overlap with physics proper, as we look at space and time.  We look at cause and effect.  But in metaphysics, we look at them as concepts and consider possibilities instead of laws.

Now, I’m going to tell you that I find quantum physics fascinating.  But, I’m not going to try to explain it, even on such a superficial level as my definitions of physics and metaphysics above.  I love that there’s a book called “Quantum Physics for Dummies”.  Hmmmm…

Where does religion fit in?  I don’t know… Does it fit in?  I think it’s so interesting the Albert Einstein is quoted as saying:

“Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.” 

I love that quote from Einstein.  It says to me that we shouldn’t rule anything out.  Some people think that religious ideas are foolish, and outlandish.  But… some of the ideas and theories put forth in metaphysics and quantum physics seem a little far-fetched and counter intuitive.

It is, after all, hard to wrap your head around the theory of the parallel universe.  Or, should I say “universes”, since there are differing theories to describe and explain this possibility.  Elon Musk, after all, thinks we might be living in a computer simulation.  I don’t know… he’s a pretty smart guy.

If you are highly educated in any of these disciplines, I hope you’ll forgive my clumsy mutterings.  I’m no expert, just an interested observer.  Are you interested in thinking about these things too?  I would like to know that I’m not alone in my own little parallel universe…

Cat

 

 

 

My New Curriculum

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So, we are going to stop teaching cursive handwriting in public school. In New York, we are not going to require a literacy test for teachers, because it’s racist. We don’t teach Civics anymore, so students become adults that don’t really understand how government works. No Home Economics, No Shop Class… Sexist, and besides, who needs to cook or make stuff?

 
I’m not saying that everything was perfect with the education we got in high school in the seventies, but what are we replacing these courses with? Are we improving the courses that are offered? Or are we just removing stuff that might offend people?

 
Well, I’ve got some ideas about courses that should be offered front and center for kids. I haven’t decided whether we should wait until high school for some of these topics, but it’s a start.

 
1. Time Management
How useful would it be to teach kids this life skill? You need this training, whether you’re college bound, or entering the work force. Some people don’t get the whole “come to work on time” thing. I’m much better at time management than I used to be. But imagine what a star I would be if I had time management training in high school. I would have used that every day, unlike those advanced math classes.

 
2. Personal Finance
This class should run for at least two semesters, because… bullet points

 
• Saving and Investing
• How to Buy a Car
• Managing Your Credit Score
• Renting vs Buying a Home
• How to Start a Business
• Building a Budget
• Taxes

 
I wish I learned all this in high school, as opposed to the school of hard knocks.

 
3. Civility
If we can’t have Civics, can we have Civility? If you don’t understand the government, can you be polite about it? If you do have an understanding of how government works, can you be gracious? If you don’t understand the constitution, can you quit going on about “your” free speech, while denying other people a voice? Yes, we should either bring back Civics, or substitute Civility. Maybe half and half.

 
4. Coping Skills
Ok, this one’s a little vague. You know, what to do when you like someone but they don’t like you back. How to cope with disappointment when you don’t get selected for the team, or the job. It’s okay to be less than 100% all the time. How to replace negativity with positive self-talk. What to do if someone is picking on you, or bullying you. How do you break up with someone without breaking their heart?

 
5. Writing
This is a double-edged sword for me. As a writer, I don’t want the market to go away. On the other hand, people need to know how to write. I guess it’s possible that we can get AI to write for us once the skill has disappeared completely.

 
So, there are my top five recommendations for improved curriculum. I’d love to know if you have any suggestions. What would you like to see added to the curriculum?

 
– Cat