This idea of 'making it happen' as a focus for creativity was the recurrent theme in a series of conversations on creativity that I was involved in today at Buckinghamshire New University. There were many stories about challenges being turned into opportunities which stirred hearts and fired imaginations to the point where people put in effort to make something new and meaningful happen.
Making something new happen is also the challenge for anyone setting up a website or blog. Such virtual spaces are empty vessels that have to be given life and meaning by those who contribute to its development. Only time will tell whether we will be successful but we have the belief that we can be because no one has quashed our enthusiasm for having a go at doing it. Sir Ken Robinson made the point that, 'it doesn't take a lot to be encouraged or discouraged', in a recent BBC radio 4 broadcast during an interview with Sarah Montague in her excellent series 'The Educators'. Through the interview learnt something about the early life of Sir Ken Robinson and how experiences have shaped him to become the person he has become. Drawing on events from his own life he illustrated how school, or rather individual teachers, managed to do both of these things to him. It's likely that we can all look back on our own lives and identify similar experiences when a teacher has said or done something that has caused us to believe that we have something to offer the world, or conversely, that we which thought we had to offer, is of little or no significance.
Teachers can turn your life around
LWE has undertaken a number of surveys recently which includes questions on what encourages and discourages creativity amongst higher education teachers. Having a manager and/or team members who encourages you is one of the most cited reasons for a supportive environment in which creativity can flourish. Sadly, the converse is also true. Managers and colleagues who criticise and dismiss attempts to move outside the norms of practice destroy fragile confidence and stifle creativity.
In her book, 'The Progress Principle', Teresa Amabile identifies encouragement as being one of four nourishers essential for a workplace culture in which creativity can thrive. We are all responsible for the culture we inhabit - whether at work at home or in some other daily space - so the question for all of us is - do we encourage our colleagues, students, family members and friends enough? Or do we put them off through careless words?
Actions speak louder than only words so let us go forward confident that we can animate this website with thoughts and resources that reflect our values, our purposes and our ambitions as a community-based educational enterprise supporting the holistic development of people through their own lifewide experiences.
Sources of information
Amabile, T. M. and Kramer, S. J. (2012) The Progress Principle: Using Small Wins to Ignite Joy, Engagement, and Creativity at Work. Boston: Harvard Business Review Press.
BBC Radio 4 The Educators http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p0249h5b