Creative Teacher Resource Page

Website and blog designed to foster creativity and build creative confidence among teachers and students.

Photo of Risa Stein
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The Creative Professor is a site devoted to sharing perspectives, experiences, and resources for teachers and faculty who endeavor to nurture their own creativity and that of their students.


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Photo of Jessica Lura

Thanks for sharing this resource. What activities and experiences have you found really support developing creative confidence and greater understanding of others' perspectives?

Photo of Risa Stein

Jessica - That's a really important question. What I've found works best is an exploration of a social topic they find important. The approaches I describe on my webpage ( under Activities, in the last section involve creating a new society or a synthetic human. When I ask students to recreate a facet of society, despite being at a Catholic college with mostly upper and upper-middle class white students, they learn real quickly how others hold differing perspectives on social issues. They also gain an appreciation of the complexity of most topics, why creating change is challenging, and how being open to new approaches and developing creative solutions is important.

For instance, groups invariably choose to focus on education as one facet and family as another. They first start by creating a mindomo (divergent thinking) mind map which forces them to consider everything they can possibly think of related to their topic including historical perspectives, cross-cultural perspectives, child/parent/teacher/local community/federal government perspectives, and more. They are tasked to research the topic to fully flesh out their mind map. Once they have done so, they converge on area of focus and create a plan for the new society as the initial 1000 people create new norms and mores and grow over 5, 10, and 20 years. I also ask them to create 3 different people or personas who live in the new society in order to help them gain empathy.

Students must consider what their values and priorities are for the collective new society and how growth will impact it. Usually they discover there are competing factors and that no one perspective can check all the boxes they hold dear. The biggest surprise usually comes for the family group when they must consider issues of reproduction and housing to foster community solidarity.

Students go through the steps involved in design thinking including gaining an understanding of a problem, empathy for what people in the new society will experience, brain storming, convergent thinking, ideating, and prototyping, all while working within teams. They generally find aspects very frustrating and very thought-provoking. I like to remind them that this is what creativity is about. It's not just making pretty pictures (although that awesome!), it's considering all the pertinent factors and constraints and creating novel solutions to wicked problems.

Nevertheless, I'm always surprised to how much they will gripe about current states of affairs and neglect an opportunity to move everyone to California and just chill on the beach living off fresh produce for a year or so, letting everyone get to know each other, and recovering, emotionally, from the plague. But, that goes to show how our minds are still often constrained and how hard we need to work to break out of our biases.

I hope this helps. I've never found anything that facilitates perspective building and forces creative solution generation like this exercise. I'm sure it could be scaled down in some ways.

Photo of Jessica Lura

Thanks for sharing!