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.
Find out about the cool research we are doing in SEGAL! Daniela Damian has just been featured on UVic’s Faces of Research: http://youtu.be/xgSwKDOYB5M
I have been teaching students Global Software Engineering (GSD) since 2006, and more and more I realize that the learning I am trying to create in the classroom is not related to technical skills at all. It is about discovering yourself. Very few problems in GSD are of technical nature. Advances in distributed version control and integrated collaborative development environments have made most of technical issues conquerable. It is about how these infrastructures get used by people in different parts of the world, with different styles of work and communication, but more interestingly, different expectations of success and of others. In a recent course I run at the University of Victoria in collaboration with the Finnish Aalto University — see here for a slide deck outlining our great GSD experience — I had the incredible experience that any teacher is hungry for: a student’s reflection on what learning GSD meant for him. Although my intention was to facilitate the UVic students’ international collaboration with the Finnish students, our UVic class was international in itself and we had many great discussions of what working in an international team really meant. In very few classes we get the chance to really reflect on our experiences and learning, and we had many opportunities to share the good and the hard. Trust, large time zone differences and teamwork were among the few things that we talked in almost every class. My student’s report — a reflection from a reserved person most often not able to contribute to what were felt as advanced discussions, though his report is very telling about his learning — highlights in fact why collaborating across borders (whatever they are: physical, cultural, emotional, ideological) is important to (re-)discover oneself: where one comes from, how one approaches particular challenges and how one is willing to search for solutions. It reminded me, once more, how much I… read more →