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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Creativity: A Crime Of Passion | Andrea Kuszewski, Science 2.0

The common impression is that our society values creative people and creative thinking. But in this article, Kuszewski maintains that schoolroom and workplace rules discourage it. She discusses why that happens and how to overcome the obstacles.

Kuszewski writes (emphasis added):
Creativity is supposed to be a good thing, something we aspire to achieve. However, those who are the most creative are often faced with the worst treatment and the most rejection for their ideas. To put it simply, people in positions of authority and management generally like and value those who follow rules. It is much easier to maintain order when everyone is following the rules. Breaking rules = bad. Right? But in order to be truly creative, you must break rules. That is what creativity entails.
After commenting some more on how schools and employers hinder creativity, she writes:
This may sound like I am advocating rule-breaking. And in a way, I am. But it is selective and purposeful rule-breaking that serves to advance ideas or thinking about a situation, in order to come up with a new solution to a persisting problem. There is a difference between rule-breaking for selfish purpose (illegal motive) and rule-breaking for creative purpose (idea advancement).
Kuszewski continues by discussing the types of creative rule-breaking that are more effective, because they're most acceptable. She writes:
So really, what we are being told is, "be creative, but not TOO creative". Any creative ideas that attempt to shift the current paradigm or reject a paradigm completely are usually driven by extreme passion, and almost always met with some type of resistance from society.
She concludes:
While we need more people who are willing to face the firestorm and stand up for their creative ideas, the real change needs to come from society itself. Society needs to have flexibility and tolerance in situations where breaking rules is necessary and provides a clear social benefit, instead of treating the passionate innovators of the world as common criminals.
I'm no psychologist, but I can't help thinking these days that contradictions about creativity--and associated rule-breaking--in our schools and workplaces affect our attitudes, feelings and behaviors. And sadly, the negative effects of those contradictions become more noticeable, and even tragic, in some people. Of course, those effects cannot be an excuse for anti-social behavior.
Kuszewski's article is featured today, Dec. 19, in my daily online paper, Garbl's Creativity Connections--available at the Creativity tab above and by free email subscription.
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