Sunday, March 11, 2007

A Creative Outlet? Who Needs It?

One of the things that I enjoy about my work is that I’m surrounded by creative, diverse colleagues who challenge the students and, inadvertantly, me, to consider new ideas, take risks and look inside. As a support teacher, I'm forced to attempt the tasks myself in order to help my students understand and complete the work. Recently, they were assigned an essay with a choice of themes to explore: Love, Evil or Human Nature. Since then, I’ve been mulling over the idea of human nature and creativity.

Apparently, from the lack of postings on this blog, I’ve experienced a slump in creativity for nearly a year, despite attending a week-long writing course in the Highlands of Scotland last summer. The awesome talent of my peers on the course was daunting. The break in my wrist last spring turned into a metaphor for my creative outlet. The expressive channel was broken.

Having said that, I’ve been like a boiling kettle with a dancing lid - the steam’s been coming out in other directions, but not in the one I wanted. Instead, I’ve been trying out new bread recipes, taking up knitting again after many years, re-arranging furniture (that’s a favourite), learning to make sushi and choosing paint for the front hallway. Just recently, I started a new project at work, designing a web page of resources. Finally, I’d found an outlet, something to focus on! The really strange thing is that it got me writing again.

I have a theory that we all need to have some outlet for our creativity. For some, it’s a mind trip while walking the dog that ends up as a short story. It might be choosing coordinating drapes and pillows for the living room or planting vegetables in the garden, putting a mixture of flowers together in a vase, painting racing stripes on the car or organizing an informal party. There’s a basic human need to be purposeful, imaginative, to test the waters (or the thin ice) and DO something. Something unique to you. It often requires learning something. A new skill. Discovering a new talent. Re-discovering a childhood passion.

This need to learn new things reminded me of my father, a quiet, private man who enjoyed his own company. As a young man, he had trained to be a watchmaker, and in his retirement, he returned to that hobby until his failing vision made it impossible to continue. He was also a passionate photographer who preferred taking pictures to hunting. He enjoyed cooking meals or treats for the family and took satisfaction from mowing the lawn. He didn’t seek anyone’s approval, but took joy in just doing things his own way. He was curious about computers and the World Wide Web, but felt it was too late for him to master it. Things were just changing too fast. When he lost interest in learning or creating anything new, he lost interest in life itself. Or perhaps it was the other way around.

I think we all need a creative outlet. Without it, the love of life slips away. Or people become destructive, another outlet for “doing”. If this is true, it raises many more questions... How can we nurture creativity in our schools and society? How can we provide the elderly with opportunities to be expressive? How can we solve our world problems through innovation rather than destruction? I think it’s by encouraging and providing opportunities to use imagination and creative problem solving throughout our society - at home, in schools and in the workplace.

1 comment:

Paul said...

Thanks for inviting me to read this and glad to see that visiting our English classes provoked your creativity. I feel a bit of an impostor given how little I've been writing lately. The students could surely benefit from seeing someone take writing so seriously and passionately. Keep at it! And keep me informed. P.S. Are you interested in leading some writing craft lessons?