Friday, October 30, 2009

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Passion for creative education?

If you are reading this and have a passion for creative education then go check out my friend Bruce Hammond's blog.

Courage and Creativity

Previous blogs have looked at vision and reality as aspects of the creative character. Another aspect of the creative character is courage.
Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something else is more important than fear. Ambrose Redmoon
It takes a lot of courage to release the familiar and seemingly secure, to embrace the new. But there is no real security in what is no longer meaningful. There is more security in the adventurous and exciting, for in movement there is life, and in change there is power. Alan Cohen
Only when we are no longer afraid do we begin to live. Dorothy Thompson

What is courage?
In a review of the book The Courage to Create by Rollo May, psychologist Stephen Diamond comments, "Creativity always requires taking a chance on one's self... and moving ahead despite self-doubts, discouragement and anxiety. Courage, as May makes clear, is “not the absence of insecurity, fear, anxiety or despair, but resides in the decision to move through these feelings as constructively or creatively as possible." Courage has no switch that one can turn on or off at a whim. Cultivating courage is more of a discipline, or a moment-to-moment, day-by-day practice.

Why is courage important?
Courage requires that we step beyond our zone of comfort and expand beyond our current capabilities or ways of doing things. This is why it can seem so frightening. Creativity requires courage.
We can develop more courage in a number of ways:
§ Being honest with yourself and others. When you give integrity away, you do not have it anymore. It is at times easier to compromise our integrity than to have the courage to do what we believe is right. Taking a creative path through life can require great courage.
§ Acting on your values
§ Taking some pride in your achievements. This can pull you to do things in a manner that elicits courage and excellence, helping you to overcome low hurdles and large obstacles.
§ Practice daily acts of courage by stepping out of your comfort zone.

More ways to develop courage are to be found in my book - The Creative Edge - Putting life into your creativity - Putting creativity into your life.

If you would like to purchase the book - in pdf form on disc - you can order a copy from me or from the Creative Skills Training Council $NZ15 plus $NZ5 postage and packaging anywhere in the world. Pay by PayPal.

Great Conference - Swelled Head!

This morning I received comments and feedback from the brilliant conference organising team of Kobus, Inge, Ronnie and Ena, that people made about the 15th Annual International Creativity Conference that I attended in South Africa in October.

"Contrary to the predictions of the prophets of doom (re the world economy!), ACRE 15 was without a doubt one of the most enjoyable conferences and gratifying experiences. The atmosphere could not have been better, the delegates were excited and full of praise - we are so grateful!
A few of the comments which we have received:
"Thank you for even thinking of bringing such a brilliant conference concept to our country! I feel very inspired and hopeful as a South African whenever I think of people like yourselves who try to do their bit for the good of our country."
"Travelling to South Africa for the conference was one of the best decisions I've made in a long time. I had a wonderful time. I know that I left a piece of my heart in Klein Kariba!"
"I wonder if I'll ever see such a group of enthusiastic, motivated, inspired people again!"
"I would like to thank you and your team for a mind blowing week at ACRE 15. I couldn't get enough - and still can't. Well done!"
"Just wanted to send a quick email to say thank you - it was absolutely wonderful. Hopefully I'll persuade my company to send more delegates next year"
"Please send me the dates of ACRE 16 - I want to diarise it immediately for myself and my company".
"As soon as you have the dates for next year's conference, please let me know - I want to organise my diary now not to miss it!" Etc etc etc.
And then there's the swelled head bit!
I facilitated a workshop that focused on making creativity a habit.
"As far as your evaluations are concerned:
1: The presenter covered the content as described in the programme
2. Presenter was well prepared and delivered session with confidence
3. Delegate's overall impression of the presentation

Q.1: 35 Excellent; 3 Very good;
Q.2: 36 Excellent; 2 Very good;
Q.3: 34 Excellent; 4 Very good
Great session - great style of presenting;
Great session - I'm going to start changing my bad habits!;
Great delivery - many applications - useful for education as well as companies;
Perfect session for the morning after - kept me awake;
Great stuff - best session of the conference which I attended;
Want more sessions like this - should be a 4 hr presenter;
Most enjoyable;
One of my best;
The best I attended this week;
Excellent - 4 hrs for him - Please come back next year;
Would recommend it to anyone;
A very well presented programme;
Outstanding - one of the best sessions I have been to at any creativity conference;
Excellent, practical, life-changing."

I'll definitely be back!! and you can get the workshop manual on a disc by emailing me It costs $NZ15 plus $NZ5 post and packaging anywhere in the world. Pay by PayPal.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Tuks Creative

One of the highlights of the 15th International Creativity Conference in South Africa was the work of Annalie Botha and her students from the Tuks Creative Student Society of the University of Pretoria.
The theme chosen for the conference was The Sixties and one of the banners summed it up - If you can remember the sixties you probably weren't there.
The students who numbered maybe 25 carried this theme so well - they welcomed, performed, mimed - they just added so much to the conference. The students energy was well matched by Annalie's own energy.
Tuks Creative offers opportunities to students to participate in street theatre, children's theatre, art festivals and so on. In Annalie's words: "I believe that these future teachers will be able to link the theory of the academic world and the [practice of the real world, and that they will be able to use their critical thinking skills to bring magic and fun back into the classroom and touch the hearts of our children."
Alan Black from the US, Ken Wall from Australia and me, from New Zealand, had the privilege and pleasure of working with these students.
Wish I had teachers like these students are going to be!!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

There's a trick to building a better brain

This from the South African Sunday Times via Reuters.
Adults who learn new tricks such as juggling can improve the 'wiring' of their brains, say British scientists.
Research shows that newly trained jugglers had better connectivity in parts of the brain involved in movements needed to catch the balls - and the improvement lasted for weeks even after they stopped juggling. "We tend to think of the brain as being static, or even beginning to degenerate once we reach adulthood'" said Heidi Johansen-Berg of Oxford University's department of clinical neurology, whose study was published in the journal Nature Neuroscience.
"In fact we find the structure of the brain is ripe for change. We've shown that it is possible for the brain to condition its own wiring system to operate more efficiently."
White matter consists of bundles of long nerve fibres that conduct electrical signals between nerve cells, while grey matter consists of nerve cell bodies where the processing and computation in the brain is done.
Scientists have already show that grey matter function can improve by learning or experiencing new things, but improvements in white matter have not previously been shown.
The scientists took two groups of 24 adults none of whom who could juggle. One group has weekly juggling training sessions for six weeks and was asked to practise 30 minutes a day. The groups were scanned using special magnetic resonance imaging diffusion before and after the the 6 week period.
After the training there was great variation in skill levels, the researchers said. But all of the newly trained jugglers showed changes in white matter - suggesting that the benefit was down to time spent training and practising, rather than ability.

Friday, October 16, 2009

South African Creativity

South Africa is a country of contrasts and has left a lasting impression on me. Its creative potential is extraordinary.

I have just returned from attending and presenting at the 4th International Creativity Conference for Educators and the 15th International Creativity Conference.

Prior to the conference presenters were invited to stay at Neethling's Place, sometime home and workplace of Dr Kobus Neethling, the founder of the conferences - and what a wonderful occasion it was. Apparently Neethlings Place was originally a film school and set for the movie The Gods Must be Crazy. The scene then was well set for a bunch of internationals to gather and relax a little prior to the conference.

The hospitality shown by Kobus and his team was just wonderful.
Known internationally for his work on creativity Kobus is also responsible for the development of the Neethling Brain Instrument. The Brain Profile is in essence the synopsis or summary of the person’s thinking preferences at a specific time in his/her life. Because the point of departure is ‘thinking preferences’, it is important to note that there are no bad or wrong profiles. The Brain Profile is a descriptive, non-judgmental analysis, with no profile being better or worse than another. Instead, the profile gives a description of an individual’s thought preferences, and recommendations are made based on those preferences.
These recommendations could focus on: personal development; subject or career choices; lifestyle changes; business improvements; personal relationships; improving education and sport achievements; parenting; leadership and management; plotting the future and many other possibilities.
More about this instrument in future blogs.

Now back to Neethlings Place. It was here I was introduced to the South African BBQ - the Braai - which seems to be an excuse to sing songs, drink and eat meat. I'm sure there is more to it than that but for a simple antipodean lad that was enough. Thanks to all for making me feel very welcome!!