The source of creativity: Making mistakes! Who would have thought that making mistakes, or taking risks to explore your ideas is at the heart of creativity? NPR TED Radio Hour’s podcast on The Sources of Creativity (Oct 3rd) amazingly debates what makes us be creative — do you want to know how Sting stop writing his songs but then overcame barriers to creativity?–, how we all pretty much get born creative natures but somehow we lose it along the way of maturing to become less risk takers. Why? my personal take is that we surrender to our own self imposed barriers raised out of fear of failure. When in fact we learn most through failures. I have been thinking for a while now how to facilitate creativity in my classes and students’ thinking (whether undergraduate or graduate) and my strategy has been to design (seemingly extreme) practical problems that almost force students to fail. But then I almost always get questions such as “what’s the template for this assignment?”, “how will you be grading this exercise?”. Clear examples of barriers we get to fight along the way… Introspection, however, is crucial to learning from mistakes and to gaining the confidence in oneself’s ability to be creative; so I also blend a lot of reflection in my strategy of freeing my students from worrying about conformance … and thus enabling their creativity.