Posts Tagged 'Dr. Magdalena Grohman'

Teaching for Creativity: Questioning Coloring Books

Perhaps you enjoyed coloring books as a child or have coloring books around your home for your children. Creativity specialist and University of Texas at Dallas professor, Magdalaena Grohman, provides insight into the creative value of coloring books and ideas for enriching the coloring experience.

As a psychologist and a mom of two, I have an unrelenting tendency to look for games, toys, and activities that teach children to think and communicate, that develop imagination, and that shape creativity and multiple intelligences. And recently, coloring books have caught my attention.

For the past couple years my two sons, ages 6 and almost 4 years old, have been bringing coloring sheets home. I’ve been thinking: What do coloring books teach our children? What is their educational value?

For starters, the act of filling in the color within boundaries plays an important role in the development of hand-eye coordination, a crucial component in mastering handwriting. I’m afraid, however, that’s about it. How so? Well, let’s look at the most accessible coloring books you can buy in a supermarket. Most of them include outlines of  popular movie and book characters. If a child is familiar with a given character, it may significantly restrict the color palette. Spiderman, for example, will most likely be red, blue and black. There are even more restrictive activity books, in which a specific color pigment is already embedded in the pages and ready to use. Just dip a brush in water and you’re good to go. How convenient! Not only does a child remain clean (so do walls and floors), she doesn’t have to think what colors need to be used. At the very least, coloring books reinforce mindless copying and schematic color use.

So, shall we throw them away? Well, here’s a caveat. Children do like coloring, and—let’s admit it—it is a perfect activity to keep them busy so we can catch up with chores or steal 10 minutes to pause and think.

But, if you have some time to sit down with your children and play with them, I suggest you try the following fun activities with your ordinary coloring book:

  • Use an atypical color scheme (Spiderman is yellow, pink and green) and discuss the character “wearing” different colors
  • Add different elements to the picture
  • Change a given outline into something completely different and give it funny titles
  • Glue small pieces of torn magazine pages within the outline

Thank you, Dr. Grohman for your ideas!

Dr. Grohman leads Think Creatively! workshops in the Center for Creative Connections on the first Thursday of every month.

Andrea V. Severin
Interpretation Specialist

Top Ten List of New and Upcoming Programs and Events

  1. iMuseum 2.0 Late Night:  Our September 21st Late Night is a not-to-miss night of new, experimental, and interactive programs.  Among them are a Choose Your Own Adventure tour and your chance to text a work of art with your questions.
  2. New acquisitions on viewCurrent exhibition Variations on Theme: Contemporary Art 1950s-Present features more than a dozen of the Museum’s 2011 and 2012 new acquisitions.  Check out online versions of the Museum’s Annual Reports and What’s New to keep up with our recent acquisitions, and then come see them at the Museum.
  3. Art-making in Posters of Paris. An art-making area in the upcoming Posters of Paris: Toulouse-Lautrec and His Contemporaries exhibition will provide visitors with everything they need to create their own artistic poster.  Leave a copy of your creation at the Museum (to be posted on a wall in the exhibition), and take the real thing home for the fridge!
  4. Staff Art, Staff Selections.  Visit in November to see an exhibition with artworks created by staff members.  Also on view in the Center for Creative Connections is our Personal Point of View series where a Museum staffer is invited to select and respond to an artwork for the main gallery space.
  5. Book Talk.  A book club-style event, Book Talk brings together Museum members (Sustainer level and above) for exhibition-inspired book discussions, exclusive lectures and tours, and author meet & greets.
  6. Klyde Warren Park Opening & Art Beyond Sight.  On Saturday, October 27th and Sunday, October 28th, the DMA takes art-making activities into Klyde Warren Park for their grand opening.  In honor of Art Beyond Sight Awareness month, we are focusing on experiencing art with senses other than vision. Sketch a nature scene, and then use scented paint to create your scene based on how it might smell.
  7. Karla Black: Concentrations 55:  As part of Concentrations—a series of project-based solo exhibitions by emerging artists— artist Karla Black will transform our Hoffman galleries with a sculptural installation.
  8. Urban Armor: Programs for Teens & Tweens.  As someone who discovered her love of art as a teenager, I’m pretty excited about the new suite of programs we offered are offer for a teen/tween audience. Urban Armor recently wrapped up a two-day graffiti project with a local artist and will kick off its Open Lab program this Sunday, August 26th, from 1:00-3:00pm.
  9. Arts & Letters Live presents Chris Cleave. On Tuesday, October 9th, the New York Times bestselling author of Little Bee will discuss his newest novel.  Chris Cleave’s Gold is a tale of friendship between two female cyclists and how they traverse the shifting sands of ambition, loyalty, and love on the eve of their last Olympics.
  10. Thinking Creatively Workshops.  I’m cheating a little with this one; it isn’t new to us, it’s just a great program. Starting September 13th, creativity expert Dr. Magdalena Grohman will lead a monthly Thursday evening Thinking Creatively workshop. The experience will begin with creative thinking exercises and conclude with a making activity that builds on ideas generated during the exercises. Workshops will be held on October 11th, November 8th, and December 6th, all from 6:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m. in the Center for Creative Connections.  To get a taste of what you can expect, check out our Teaching for Creativity series; many featured activities are inspired by Dr. Grohman’s past workshops.

Amy Copeland
Coordinator of Go van Gogh Outreach

Moments of Epiphany: Talking Creativity with an Educational Psychologist

We were lucky at our last Educator Reading Group to have Dr. Magdalena Grohman as a guest facilitator.  Dr. Grohman is an associate director of the Center for Values in Medicine, Science, and Technology, a lecturer at the School of Behavior and Brain Sciences at the University of Texas, Dallas, and a frequent DMA collaborator.

Dr. Grohman recommended an article from Educational Psychologist titled “Why Isn’t Creativity More Important to Educational Psychologists?  Potentials, Pitfalls, and Future Directions in Creativity Research.”  The reading invited us to reconsider beliefs and ”myths” we might hold about creativity: that creativity is something you either have or you don’t, that there is a singular type of creative person (and they are often outsiders), and that creativity is enhanced within a group.  The article also teased out a definition of creativity based on content analysis of peer-reviewed business, education, and psychology journals.

During our discussion, we thought through our own myths about creativity and the theory and practice of creativity both in our programs and jobs.  How do we talk to students in our programs and classes about creativity and their creative abilities? And how is that different from what they hear from teachers in school?  How do we structure brainstorming sessions, and work in large groups on creative projects?  

We also learned about the science of creativity.  Dr. Grohman, sharing her expertise, helped us look behind our mysterious moments of creative insight to find what’s in play cognitively, that networks of concepts in the memory get flexible (usually as we relax) and we connect remote ideas with one another, metaphorizing, and generating something new.  This cognitive picture of creativity complements the first-person accounts and understandings of creative process we know best—the things we hear artists and writers say to explain their moments of epiphany–that flashes of brilliance come from nowhere, and creativity is something beyond our control. (For more on this, see Elizabeth Gilbert’s excellent TED Talk about creative genius.)

One of the things Dr. Grohman does is provide people with tools and techniques to jump start creative thinking.  She led us in a quick activity after our conversation.  We split into pairs and were asked to make a joint drawing, based on a simple prompt.  As part of the activity we weren’t allowed to talk or in any way communicate with our partner about what we were drawing.  After each pair finished, Dr. Grohman sequenced our artworks, and asked us to create a story to link them together.  Illustrations from our activity and images of participants are in the slideshow below.

Amy Copeland
Coordinator of Go van Gogh Outreach

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