Fostering Creativity in an Educational Environment
Many believe creativity is something you’re born with, rather than a skill you can learn. But, being a professor of graphic design, I believe teachers can and should foster creative thinking, regardless of the subject matter. Every child is naturally imaginative, but as they grow up they’re taught to conform. One way to encourage students to uncover their originality is to build an environment that is free of judgment. To be creative is to be abnormal, in that it requires thinking in unique ways. In order to be comfortable with artistic expression, students must feel free to make “mistakes” — they must even be encouraged to do so. We’ve all heard the mantra “fail faster.” There’s no way to know if an idea will be successful until you try it out, so the more you can explore, the better. But this might be easier said than done, as fear of failure can be paralyzing. Twyla Tharp, in The Creative Habit, combats her fears by writing them down and physically destroying them. For any creative person trying to get “unstuck,” this sort of ritual can be a first step in getting moving on a project. Under this line of thinking, helping creativity flourish should be integrated into every graphic design course. I focus on creativity in my curriculum by implementing mini exercises, discussions, and by approaching each project with a unique methodology – so students have a chance to learn and make in diverse ways.