Posts Tagged 'educator reading group'

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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Staff Reading Group Update

It’s been a while since we blogged about our Staff Reading Group

January’s reading group featured several special guests.  We were joined by colleagues from the Crow Collection of Asian Art, the Nasher Sculpture Center, and the Rachofsky House for a conversation led by Nina Simon.  Nina is an independent experience designer, author of The Participatory Museum, and author of the Museum 2.0 blog which also appears as a column in Museum magazine. 

Nina selected our reading: a keynote address from the 2008 Australia Council Arts Marketing Summit, given by US philanthropy expert Diane Ragsdale, and titled: “Surviving the culture change.”   Ragsdale’s address (to greatly simplify) challenges arts organizations to adapt and to rethink their audience—what they need (and what they might not know they need), and how we can engage them in order to stay relevant.

The reading was provocative and timely, and led our group to consider behaviors and attitudes of museum visitors and to reflect on our own tendencies as museum-goers.  Why is it that we only go to concerts, museums, or the zoo once in a while if we really enjoyed the experience?  How can we make museum-going a habit—something we integrate in our lives, like an exercise class?  One of the great ideas that came from our session was that we think of going to museums/concerts/etc. like we do going to yoga—an activity that’s regularly on our calendars and prioritized in our lives. 

Ragsdale, in suggesting ways arts organizations can change in response to questions like these, shares truly inspiring examples of progressive, visitor-centered programming already in place in museums around the world.  Here at the DMA, we are pushing on our own ideas of ways to adapt programs to further visitor involvement.  We are currently in the process of refreshing Late Nights with the help of visitor voices and museum-world consultants—Nina, among them.  So look for new and exciting things to come!

And in the meantime, check out Nina’s blog to read more about great programs and experiences happening in museums.

Amy Copeland
Coordinator of Go van Gogh Outreach


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