If we’re free from the burden of trying to be completely original, we can stop trying to make something out of nothing, and we can embrace influence instead of running away from it.
Austin Kleon – Steal Like an Artist
But I’m just not creative!
This sentence irks me ridiculously – whether a student or teacher saying it, it just irks me. I know the pain of looking at a blank page and how the hardest thing in any creative pursuit is to get started. In fact I have even blogged and run workshops based upon ideas to help teachers (and help them help their students to) get over that initial blank and get started.
Yet, the biggest mind shift for me was realising that there is no such thing as a blank page. I don’t have to be completely original. I read and see creative ideas all the time – online and in person. I see inspiration in front of me every day – landscapes, my children, students, colleagues, books… Every single one of these ideas and inspirations that enter my head mean that I will never face a blank page.
My creativity is not based on creating something brand new. It is based on how I piece together all those different ideas and inspirations.
Two books that I read over the Summer reiterated this for me. The first was Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon who offers 10 pieces of advice on how to be creative:
The second book was #EdJourney by Grant Lichtman (no surprises there right? I know I have blogged a LOT about this book lately). What he found in visiting those 64 schools is that:
innovation is not invention. For schools, innovation is about taking different things that already exist and piecing them together and making them work in a profoundly different way that makes teaching and learning better.
At Hobsonville Point Secondary School we have been seen by many as taking a new direction for Secondary Schools in Auckland. Yet, we are the first to acknowledge that these ideas are all operating in other places. We have not invented anything from scratch. All of our ideas have roots in things we have been involved in at previous schools, ideas we have read about, people we have talked to or other schools we have visited. What is new about HPSS is the unique way that we have pieced these ideas together. In a manner that we believe will best benefit our unique learners.
Don’t get caught thinking that you are facing a blank page, whether in an individual pursuit or in trying to innovate for your school. Think of the inspirations and ideas you have gathered lately.
There, that blank page is filling pretty fast with ideas to build off now isn’t it. Not so blank after all.
I think this is one of the most sensible and thought-provoking things I have read in a long time. Thanks Steve!