27 January 2011

The intelligent creativity debate

This was written for a class I am currently taking, with some modifications....

“Unlike any other creature on this planet, humans can learn and understand, without having experienced. They can think themselves into other people’s places.” ~ J.K. Rowling, Commencement Speech at Harvard University, June 2008.

    The relationship between creativity and intelligence has been discussed and debated for many years now in the world of education.    However, will anyone ever be able to fully explain the relationship between these two?  My answer is no, for as human beings we will always strive to find a bigger and better definition.  We are unable to placate ourselves with just an ordinary definition, for an ordinary definition does little to suffice such a complex idea.  Our very human nature is that of intelligent creativity.  We always strive to be our best, to learn and understand what it is that drives us and motivates us. 

    However, we also live with the very fear that failure is inevitable if we try to be too creative.  We use this fear that failure is inevitable to stifle our creativity as we  take on the responsibilities of doing well in school, going to college, getting a job and leading “normal” lives.  Any artistic talents become a waste of time as we strive to do what mainstream society expects us to do.  We fear failure and we fear breaking away from the norm and we learn these fears at a young age in the standardized school systems and from well meaning adults who want us to make something of our lives.

    Yet, failure, as J.K. Rowling reminded the students at Harvard, is inevitable.  It will be there in some way, shape or form, and that is where creativity and intelligence again come into play to make us who we should be.  It is here that we learn to draw upon not only the mistakes of the past and our intellect in learning from them but also our hopes and creative ideas of what the future should look like to dig ourselves out of our failure.

    From a young age, children should be embraced into their creative desires, and taught to think not just with book answers and test memorization, but also with their intuition and imaginations.  School should be a place of wonder, not boredom for students.  Ideas should be encouraged even the most smart-alecky ones.  Creativity and intelligence are not mortal enemies of one another, but are merely facets of the very human nature that defines us. And without that human nature, man might not even be alive today.  They have helped to evolve human kind into the stone age, the industrial revolution, the digital world and every era and genre in between. 

But that very human nature, while blessing us with so much, is also a curse.  Because of it, people strive to define the very thing that creates them.  We cannot define creativity and intelligence because they are so complex, yet feel so simple to us as humans.  We also tend to define others in regards to our own ingrained definitions of what is creative and intelligent.  We try to measure people according to standards that we ourselves cannot fully understand and define.  We ostracize those that tend to think differently from us and praise those that think alike or can come to our understanding. 

    As teachers, we need to learn to be creative in our own thinking as well as encourage it from our students.  We need to embrace that intelligence and creativity come in many facets and that the very essence of human nature cannot be standardized.  The question, however, remains:  how can we do that in a world that demands set answers and often rejects new ideas as failures?

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