‘Chance favours the connected mind’

Creativity and innovation are two much-talked about concepts which are difficult to pin down and define, let alone teach, so I was intrigued and excited by the prospect of a ‘Skills for Success’ session centred on these ideas.  However, thanks to the wonderful representative from TeachFirst, I discovered that learning and practising creativity is not only possible, but also fun and rewarding.

The session began with an introduction and a group discussion on the questions ‘What is creativity?’ and ‘Where do ideas come from?’.  It was fascinating to hear different views on how we can be creative, although it seemed most people were in agreement that it involved doing something original, against the norm, and unexpected.  We also watched a brilliant short video by Steven Johnson about the birth and development of ideas, whose main message was that the more we connect with others and share our ideas, the better the final result or innovation will be.

For the main part of the session, there were a series of fun individual and group activities which helped us to understand and practise different aspects of the creative process.  First was getting ideas down ‘on paper’ – which for this exercise was writing down as many words as possible associated with winter.  Next we practised ‘pooling ideas and forcing links’ by discussing in small groups which words we had written down, and sorting all the ideas into categories.  Borrowing ideas was the third (and most fun!) stage, where we each created a tin foil sculpture inspired by a word which someone else had written down.  Finally we worked in our groups once again to tell a story, which had to involve all of our sculptures and had to be linked to the original theme of winter.

Each of these activities showed me the importance of confidently writing and voicing my ideas, as none of them would have worked if any of us had simply kept our thoughts to ourselves.  This may seem obvious, but it is an extremely important message to many perfectionists who, like me, would rather wait until they have the ‘perfect’ idea before sharing what is going on inside their heads.  We live in a world full of difficult problems, and employers are looking for graduates who can contribute to creative and innovative solutions.  Rather than letting this scare and intimidate us, we should remember that having the courage to share our ideas, and risk ‘failure’ or ‘looking silly’, is what creativity is all about. 

Kathryn (Student Ambassador for Faculty of Arts and Humanities).
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