Applying Backwards Design to Creativity Training

I’ve been trying all week to write a blog post for the Creativity Training Program to keep my promise of weekly updates, but nothing has come.  I hand wrote an entire piece only to sit down, try to type it, and realize it was awful.  It wasn’t until I was talking to my sister (who is visiting from Japan!) this morning that I realized what the problem was: my philosophy about creativity is at odds with the title of the course.

Through my work with Don’t Make Art, Just Make Something and the #whatimake project, I’ve been honing and sharing the idea that everyone is innately creative.  For some of us it gets encouraged, for some of us it gets squashed, but we all have it.  This is why I’ve had a hard time trying to make a program that trains people to be creative.  It’s already there, they already have it, what do they need me for?

And so I tried a different approach, inspired by my teaching days: backwards design.

Backwards design is an approach to lesson planning where you start with what you want to teach, discover acceptable evidence that you have taught it, and then come up with the actual activities. Which brings me back to my sister.  We spent the morning talking about what I’m actually trying to teach in my Creativity Training Program (pending more appropriate name), and this is what we came up with:

 

WHAT PARTICIPANTS SHOULD TAKE AWAY

  • Ability to see how everything around them was made by someone.
  • Acknowledge the stories that made the things they use.
  • A sense of wonder
  • A creative community (workshop is never just a one-off, you get access to the Hearth)
  • Acknowledge what they already make, even if they thought it was insignificant
  • Realize the value of what they make (which gives you confidence to try more)
  • The desire (which just needs to be strengthened) and the confidence (which needs to be found) to try new things, to pick up old dreams
  • A healthy relationship with failure
  • Giving yourself the permission to feel enthusiasm, passion, explosions.
  • Enabling higher levels of communication
  • Respect for the importance of creativity, both at a personal and a communal level.
  • Ability to create a safe space within themselves to fail and therefore to create.
  • Acknowledge that to be passionate is to be vulnerable, to create is to be vulnerable.

 

We also decided that the working title should be HOW TO MAKE SHIT: A workshop on creativity for everyone else.  While this simple reframe (from creativity training program to a workshop that helps people reconnect with their innate creativity) may seem like unimportant semantics, it has given me the room to move forward.  Now, instead of the vague sense of confusion that stopped me from getting any work done this week, I have a list to work with.  Because sometimes all you need for a breakthrough is a new frame.

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