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Harnessing creativity - adult expertise with childlike curiosity

One thing that experts across all fields seem to agree on is the need for knowledge and experience as a foundation for finding creative solutions

Every day in my role as an educator I tell my students to open themselves up to creativity. To look beyond the obvious and to let themselves be stimulated by what's around them.

I teach what some refer to as the dark arts of Advertising and Public Relations. We use tried and tested brainstorming techniques to oil students' imaginations, along with plenty of positive affirmations to encourage them. They come up with ideas that amaze and excite me – not every time, but often.

At the time of writing this blog I'm two weeks from finishing a Masters in Creative Writing – a painful, joyous journey that I'm ready to complete. Some days all the techniques I've learned come to naught and as such, I've been exploring the sources of creativity in human history.

Robert Greene is a Los Angeles based expert on creativity. Recently he spoke at the Wharf Theatre in Sydney about how we can all harness our creative energy.

"Come on, do you really think everybody is creative?" asked the cynics.

He replied in the emphatic affirmative. Identifying that creativity is about not just looking at the obvious A, B, C standard solutions to a problem, but breaking down our mental barriers to be aware of possible options D,E,F and beyond. Easy to say, but how to you do it?

Robert believes it's about taming the paradox of gaining knowledge and experience in a certain field, whilst not closing your mind to untested theories. Basically adult expertise mixed with childlike curiosity.

Another expert, Steve Johnson, believes that most creative ideas are the product of what he calls the ‘slow hunch'. He has a great animated video describing that process of information being collected in our minds, ready for use when the right situation or problem occurs.

One thing that experts across all fields seem to agree on is the need for knowledge and experience as a foundation for finding creative solutions. All good for us here at TAFE as we strive to give our students the tools they need to find D,E,F and maybe even Z.

I'll leave the final word to one of my advertising students, trying to communicate that Elastoplast band aids are waterproof. He created an image of the Titanic floating on the high seas with two Elastoplast band aids covering the hull – ‘And They All Lived Happily Ever After'.