It’s raining outside, cold February rain that makes me want to huddle under a blanket with a Pina Colada and wish I were someplace tropical…Instead, I’m thinking about the preparation people do to “get creative”.
One of the reasons I’m so interested in this idea of fostering creativity is because of what I want to get from my own quality of life. But, I am in graduate school studying to become a teacher and a reading specialist, and I want to study this idea of the creative experience in order to bring it into the classroom. What is that makes students love to read and write? What are the ways that I as a teacher can improve their chances of having intense reactions to literature and art? How can I get them to think beyond the next test and appreciate the beauty of the world, and words, around them?
There are so many concepts that intersect around this idea of intense flow experiences and creative thought—they are hard to sort out and unify into an overarching idea, but I’m trying. I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about how nature plays a role in creative thought, and about how to help teens create a strong bond with their own special place in nature, or just their own place in general. In my last post, I described an intense experience that I had in a “special place”. But what if I had never had a secret place of my own? Would I have been in the right frame of mind to experience a flow state if I was squashed into a tiny apartment with screaming siblings and the sounds of gunfire outside my window? In the last two hours I’ve heard two interesting stories about preparing for a certain kind of experience. The first was while I was driving home listening to BBC World Service, where I heard an interview with Dave Clayton, who designed the opening credit sequences for a number of major movies, including Seven (Listen to the whole interview here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/programmes/on_screen.shtml ) Anyway, Clayton describes the opening credit sequence as a way to transition people from the outside world into the right frame of mind to see the movie…hence, the creepy opening credits of Seven, with Nine Inch Nails in the background. Interesting, I thought, here is a way to transition people into the world of the movie…preparing for them to lose sense of the outside world and become absorbed in the story. Then, not an hour later, PK was telling me about how he used to set up a hammock in his backyard, drape himself with mosquito netting and settle down to read a fantasy novel…he described it as the only time he ever became totally absorbed in a book so much so that he lost track of time and forgot to eat lunch….remarkable, if you know PK. So here it is again, a ritual (setting up the hammock, creating a safe space to enter the book) that leads to a flow experience. Interesting. So now I have two clues about how to progress…help students find their own way to create an entrance ritual that works for them. But what does that look like, especially in a classroom with thirty students and only forty-five minutes between bells?