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Mar 21

Creativity and Time

It’s time to talk about time again.

As soon as this video started, I could see its direction. The premise is straightforward and simple: given 10 seconds, a group of kids will draw the most obvious solution. Given 10 minutes, they will come up with something more creative and you’ll get a wider range of results.

Granted, I know there are people who will immediately point to flaws in the methodology here. That’s not the point. The bigger idea is prompt + time = more diverse, more in-depth, and yes, more creative results.

I can create a dozen prompts. What I can’t do is create time.

I know my colleagues in K-12 education feel the time crunch more acutely than I do, but as an assistant professor in a communications department, I find myself dealing with more content and less time each year. There is great need for good, ethical, professional communication – we must teach the fundamentals. There is a wide array of ways to share that communication in order to meet the needs of our audiences and communities — we must teach the breadth of the field. We’re a field that thrives within the liberal arts model — we must teach the multidisciplinary connections that are essential to great communication.

All of these factors begin to pressure those 10-minute creativity sessions into 10-second response blasts – which brings me to the point of this post:

Hold the line.

Hold the line against the encroachment of content on creative space. Hold the line against the temptation to cram more into the same class. Hold the line against structuring time that was unstructured and allowed for spontaneous learning. I teach a class each spring where one session is dedicated to a try-and-fail-and-try-again approach. I give students a list of digital tools and tell them to create something. Anything. Their only responsibility by the end of the class period is to write a quick review of the tool based on what they learned.

I get a lot of grumbling. I get some bewildered looks and some frustrated eye rolls. But within about 15 minutes, the tone changes. Students get intrigued by the opportunities. They show each other the things they’ve found. They create and show off. They try and fail — then try again.

The energy in the room is exciting. It reminds me how important it is to create and maintain that space for creativity. How “less is more” applies to more than just blue eyeshadow. How holding the line is worth it.

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