“There is always a need for anyone that can do a simple job thoroughly.”
Charles Eames penned the statement above as part of his advice to students, and opens Maria Popova’s birthday post to the artist/designer. Eames, with his wife Ray, portrays interdisciplinary creativity in the ways he and Ray approached design. They made modern furniture, changed perceptions about design, made educational films and wrote about ways to change learning by integrating arts and the learning of arts with other disciplines. They advanced the idea that artistic creativity is not just about self-expression, but also about problem-solving.
Taking a page out of the Eames’ philosophy, let’s think for this moment that just as they redefined what creative design was, we might also expand our thinking about what it means to create.
Related concept Creativity
Creativity can be a lone process, inspired by mood, enacted as the exploration and expression of idea, driven by problem-solving.
But creativity can also be a collaborative process. The intersection of ideas in collaborative problem-solving creates a tension, a critical massaging of the ideas through different perspectives, so that what emerges is a new synthesis, new ideas.
A manifesto for creativity for those who believe in holistic, integrated and constructivist learning might be that “…creativity is a combinatorial force: it’s our ability to tap into our mental pool of resources — knowledge, insight, information, inspiration, and all the fragments populating our minds — that we’ve accumulated over the years just by being present and alive and awake to the world, and to combine them in extraordinary new ways. In order for us to truly create and contribute to the world, we have to be able to connect countless dots, to cross-pollinate ideas from a wealth of disciplines, to combine and recombine these pieces and build new ideas.” This is Maria Popova’s manifesto on Brainpickings, and is perhaps an apt description of why we collaboratively plan and reflect in MYP, and why it is one of the ATL skills clusters important in nurturing the IB Learner as Communicator.
Anita Wooley’s research into effective collaborative groups highlights the collaborative intelligence that can arise in collaboration. The researcher points to the importance of “social sensitivity,” expressed in behaviors such as taking turns in conversations (Woolley et al., 2010). This intelligence is not a simple sum of the IQs of each person in the group, but an intelligence resulting from how the group works together (Powell & Kusuma-Powell, 2013). It’s organizational IQ, the ability of a group to combine cognitive surplus into creative problem solving (Powell & Kusuma-Powell, 2013).
Perhaps there are patterns to how effective teams function, suggested to us in lists like this article by Christian Jarrett. Collaboration is a multi-layered concept, visible in ways that might not be so visible through the senses, but seen through an observant and critical mind’s eye. Collaborative groups’ thinking can be seen through documentation of the dialog, through artifacts of thought distributed and evolving such as transcripts, meeting minutes, notes, correspondence, mindmaps among others. Like this blog.
Related concept Perspective
This blog has been a lone effort up to now. All it has up to now are the thoughts of one author. Sometimes readers comment, and there is a brief dialog. Once in a while, I receive a note from someone who has read the blog, and the dialog I have with that person sustains a conversation, a sort of space where we are thinking together.
Key concept Change
Lately I’ve been thinking of transformation. A long, reflective period that began with a cognitive shift in the IBAP Conference in Macau last March has nudged a sense of urgency for change. The engaging dialog I’ve had with many colleagues over the past months has convinced me that the dialog on ideas about learning to learn on the MYP Toolbox should not hide in the intermittent emails or conversations on Skype. We can bring the dialog to life, by changing the environment in which it occurs. So to change this Toolbox as an environment for learning, we have increased the number of voices on this blog.
Instead of just one voice, there will be a team that will bring you a wider set of perspectives here on the MYP Toolbox. We come together to grow and make visible the dialog on learning how to learn, and we hope you will join the conversation.
Would you like to contribute to the MYP Toolbox? Send me a message on aloha [dot] lavina70 [at] gmail [dot] com.
International Baccalaureate Organization. (2014). MYP: From Principles into Practice. Geneva: Author.
Jarrett, C. 9 Facts every creative needs to know about collaborative teams. 99u. Retrieved from http://99u.com/articles/16850/everything-youve-ever-wanted-to-know-about-teams on June 17, 2015.
Popova, M. Happy birthday, Charles Eames: The iconic designer on creativity, the value of the arts in education, and his advice to students. Brainpickings. Retrieved from http://www.brainpickings.org/2015/06/17/charles-eames-anthology-education-advice-to-students/ on June 18, 2015.
Popova, M. “Sincerity, honesty, conviction, affection, imagination, and humor” : A profile of Charles Eames, 1946. Brainpicking. Retrieved from http://www.brainpickings.org/2012/01/25/charles-eames-arts-and-architecture-1946-eliot-noyes/ on June 17, 2015.
Powell, W., & Kusuma Powell, O. (2013). The OIQ factor: Raising your school’s organizational intelligence; How schools can become cognitively, socially, and emotionally smart. Melton, Woodbridge: John Catt.
Wooley, A., & Chabris, C. F., & Pentland, A., & Hashmi, N., & Malone, T. W. (2010). Evidence for a collective intelligence factor in the performance of human groups. Science (29 October 2010), 330(6004), 688-688. DOI:10.1126/science.1193147
Lavina, A. Sunrise, December 26, 2014.