Tag lessons

“I want to create a mystery, not to solve it” – Making the Ordinary Unknown to Enhance Creativity, Learning & Innovation …*

“I want to create a mystery, not to solve it” - Making the Ordinary Unknown to Enhance Creativity, Learning & Innovation ...* | rethinked.org - Photo: Elsa Fridman

“Fear of the unexplainable has not only impoverished our inner lives, but also diminished relations between people; these have been dragged, so to speak, from the river of infinite possibilities and stuck on the dry bank where nothing happens. For it is not only sluggishness that makes human relations so unspeakably monotonous, it is the aversion to any new, unforeseen experience we are not sure we can handle.” – Rainer Maria Rilke

This quote from Rilke, which I found on Brain Pickings, captures this week’s theme and a core principle of our team: the need to embrace and practice making the ordinary unknown.

Over on The Guardian, Charlie Skelton makes an intriguing point about René Magritte’s art sharing structural similarities to comedy, in that both hinge on making the ordinary unknown:

Magritte once said: “I want to create a mystery, not to solve it.” Still, without trying to “solve” these compositions, we can at least examine their construction. It’s noticeable that many of the techniques Magritte uses for creating his mysterious images are to be found in comedy writing. His pictures are frequently structured like jokes.

[…]

A good comic can take something mundane and familiar and make you see it an unexpected way, whether it’s Dave Chappelle talking about “grape drink”, or Louis CK ranting about his four-year-old daughter. Magritte will do the same by sticking a silk mask on an apple. Or having a cloud enter a room by a door. Magritte “transformed the everyday” says Professor Elza Adamowicz of Queen Mary University, London. He “created a world of irrational juxtapositions, which shake us out of our comfortable expectations”. These irrational juxapositions have the stripped-down clarity of a one-liner. “His style is neutral in a way,” says Camu. “He wanted to make surreal propositions without distracting the viewer with style or painterly surfaces.”

[…]

For Magritte, all the world’s a stage, and existence is throughly absurd. His aim is to make us see the absurdity, to jolt us out of dumb acceptance – “to make us think and imagine outside the box”, as Adamowicz puts it. To stop seeing the world as one uncomplicated thing. With Magritte, everything is something else as well. Owls are plants. Balustrades are people. Shoes are feet. And paintings are jokes. Knock knock. Who’s there? A cloud.

This focus on shifting our frame of reference and its ties to comedy reminded me of Tina Seelig, who has often mentioned jokes as a fun and effective way to practice reframing one’s perspective to enhance creativity and innovation capacities:

There are some entertaining ways to practice changing your perspective. One of my favorites is to analyze jokes. Most are funny because they change the frame of the story when we least expect it. Here is an example:

Two men are playing golf on a lovely day. As the first man is about to tee off, a funeral procession goes by in the cemetery next door. He stops, takes off his hat, and bows his head.
The second man says, “Wow, you are incredibly thoughtful.”
The first man says, “It’s the least I could do. She and I were married for 25 years.”

As you can see, the frame shifts in the last line. At first the golfer appears thoughtful, but he instantly turns into a jerk when you learn that the deceased person was his wife.

Another classic example comes from one of the Pink Panther movies:

Inspector Clouseau: Does your dog bite? 
Hotel clerk: No. 
Clouseau: [bowing down to pet the dog] Nice doggie. [he dog bites Clouseau’s hand.]
Clouseau: I thought you said you dog did not bite!
Hotel Clerk: That is not my dog.

Again, the frame shifts at the end of the joke when you realize they are talking about two different dogs. Take a careful look at jokes, and you will find that the creativity and humor usually come from shifting the frame.

Reframing problems takes effort, attention, and practice, and allows you to see the world around you in a brand-new light. You can practice reframing by physically or mentally changing your point of view, by seeing the world from others’ perspectives, and by asking questions that begin with “why.” Together, these approaches enhance your ability to generate imaginative responses to the problems that come your way.

Source: How Reframing A Problem Unlocks Innovation 

Speaking of Seelig, over on Boston.comSanjay Salomon has an article about “failure resumes” where he highlights some pointers given to him in a phone interview by Seelig.

A “failure resume” is not a document of personal missteps that you send to potential employers or post on your LinkedIn profile. Instead, it’s a private exercise is meant to make students, job-seekers, employees, and others confront, acknowledge, and learn from their mistakes in order be wiser when the next challenge arises.

Seelig requires each of her students to complete a failure resume to help them “realize that viewing their experiences through the lens of failure forces them to come to terms with the mistakes they have made along the way and to extract important lessons from them.”

My students have to look at their mistakes from different angles, and to prepare for next time they face a similar challenge,” said Seelig. “It’s important to mine your failure in order to learn.”

In her blog “CreativityRulz,” Seelig explains that items listed on a failure resume can include professional, personal, or even social blunders. Students are supposed to outline what they learned from the experience in order “to extract important lessons from them.” Seelig told Boston.com the failure resume is a helpful way to get students out of their comfort zones.

“Students are used to looking at their lives through the lens of success,” said Seelig. “But if you’re only looking at your success, then you’re missing an opportunity to learn from your failures. You’re also being disingenuous, since the road to success is riddled with failure.”

Source: Can a Failure Resume Help You Succeed?

Is this something you’ve tried? I’m rather intrigued by the idea and I’m hoping to carve out some time this weekend to get started on my own failure resume.

reframe, learn, create & innovate …*

Neil Gaiman: Make Glorious & Fantastic Mistakes, Break Rules, Leave the World More Interesting For Your Being Here …*

Now go and make interesting mistakes, make amazing mistakes, make glorious and fantastic mistakes, break rules, leave the world more interesting for your being here, make good art.” – Neil Gaiman

I’ve finally had the opportunity to watch Neil Gaiman’s splendid commencement address to the 2012 graduating class of The University of the Arts In Philadelphia. In his speech, Gaiman shares some of the things he wished he had known starting out and the best piece of advice he’s ever received and completely failed to follow. To the extent that [ being | becoming ] an artist is about developing one’s voice (and perhaps, most critically, the courage to share and own that voice) this is an essential talk for any individual invested in living up to their full potential. I’ve transcribed some of my favorite bits below in case you don’t have the time to watch the video just yet, but I highly recommend watching it in its entirety when you get the chance.

watch & rethink …*

Neil Gaiman Addresses the University of the Arts Class of 2012 from The University of the Arts (Phl) on Vimeo.

[ E M B R A C E   S H O S H I N ]

First of all, when you start out on a career in the Arts, you have no idea what you’re doing. This is great. People who know what they’re doing, know the rules and they know what is possible and what is impossible. You do not and you should not. The rules on what is possible and impossible in the Arts, were made by people who had not tested the bounds of the possible by going beyond them. And you can. If you don’t know it’s impossible, it’s easier to do. And because nobody’s done it before, they haven’t made up rules to stop anyone doing that particular thing again.

[  K E E P   W A L K I N G   T O W A R D S   Y O U R   M O U N T A I N ]

Sometimes the way to do what you hope to do will be clear cut and sometimes it will be almost impossible to decide whether or not you’re doing the correct thing because you’ll have to balance your goals and hopes with feeding yourself, paying debts, finding work, settling for what you can get. Something that worked for me, was imagining that where I wanted to be, which was an author, primarily fiction, making good books, making good comics, making good drama and supporting myself through my words—imagining that was a mountain, a distant mountain. My goal. And I knew that as long as I kept walking towards the mountain, I’d be alright. And when I truly was not sure what to do, I could stop and think about whether it was taking me towards or away from the mountain. I said no to editorial jobs on magazines, proper jobs that would have paid proper money, because I knew that attractive though they were, for me, they would have been walking away from the mountain. And if those job offers had come earlier, I might have taken them because they still would have been closer to the mountain than I was at that time. I learned to write by writing. I tended to do anything as long as it felt like an adventure and to stop when it felt like work, which meant that life did not feel like work.

[ M A K E   M I S T A K E S ]

Fourthly, I hope you’ll make mistakes. If you make mistakes it means you’re out there doing something. And the mistakes in themselves can be very useful. I once misspelled Caroline in a letter, transposing the A and the O, and I thought, “Coraline,” looks almost like a real name.

[ M A K E   G O O D   A R T ] 

When things get tough, this is what you should do: Make good art. I’m serious. Husband runs off with a politician–make good art. Leg crushed and then eaten by a mutated boa constrictor—make good art. IRS on your trail—make good art. Cat exploded—make good art. Someone on the Internet thinks what you’re doing is stupid or evil or it’s all been done before— make good art. Probably things will work out somehow, eventually time will take the sting away, and that doesn’t even matter. Do what only you can do best: Make good art. Make it on the bad days, make it on the good days, too.

[ C R E A T E   &   L I V E   A S   O N L Y   Y O U   C A N ]

And fifthly, while you’re at it, make your art—do the stuff that only you can do. The urge, starting out, is to copy and that’s not a bad thing. Most of us only find our own voices after we’ve sounded like a lot of other people. But the one thing that you have, that nobody else has, is you—your voice, your mind, your story, your vision. So write and draw and build, and play and dance and live as only you can. The moment that you feel that just possibly, you’re walking down the street naked, exposing too much of your heart and your mind and what exists on the inside, showing too much of yourself, that’s the moment you may be starting to get it right.

[ E M B R A C E   U N C E R T A I N T Y ]

 The things I’ve done that worked the best, were the things I was the least certain about. The stories where I was sure they’d either work or more likely be the kind of embarrassing failures that people would gather together and discuss until the end of time—they always had that in common. Looking back at them, people explained why they were inevitable successes and when I was doing them, I had no idea. I still don’t and where would be the fun in making something you knew was going to work? And sometimes the things I did really didn’t work. There are stories of mine that have never been reprinted, some of them never even left the house. But I learned as much from them as I did from the things that worked.

[ L E T   G O   &   E N J O Y   T H E   R I D E ]

So when I agreed to give this address, I thought, “what is the best piece of advice I was ever given?” And I realized that it was actually a piece of advice that I had failed to follow. And it came from Stephen King. It was twenty years ago, at the height of the initial success of Sandman, the comic I was writing. I was writing a comic people loved and they were taking it seriously. And Stephen King liked Sandman and my novel with Terry Pratchett, Good Omens, and he saw the madness that was going on, the long signing lines, all of that stuff and his advice to me was this: he said, “this is really great, you should enjoy it.” And I didn’t. Best advice I ever got that I ignored. Instead, I worried about it. I worried about the next deadline, the next idea, the next story. There wasn’t a moment for the next fourteen or fifteen years, that I wasn’t writing something in my head or wondering about it. And I didn’t stop and look around and go, “this is really fun.” I wish I’d enjoyed it more. It’s been an amazing ride but there were parts of the ride I missed because I was too worried about things going wrong, about what came next, to enjoy the bit that I was on. That was the hardest lesson for me, I think—to let go and enjoy the ride. Because the ride takes you to some remarkable and unexpected places.

[ F A K E   I T   T O   M A K E    I T,   I F   Y O U   N E E D   T O ]

Someone asked me recently how to do something she thought was going to be difficult–in this case, recording an audio book. And I suggested she pretend that she was someone who could do it. Not pretend to do it, but pretend she was someone who could. She put up a notice to this effect on the studio wall and she said it helped. So be wise because the world needs more wisdom. And if you cannot be wise, pretend to be someone who is wise and then just behave like they would.

*

Friday Link Fest {November 23-30, 2012}

 

ARTICLES

How to Disrupt Yourself ~ To create a disruptive future, we must often walk away from a comfortable present. via Innovation Excellence, published November 21, 2012.

d.School Advice to Obama: Start With 100 Days of Prototyping ~ The administration should start the next term with 100 days of prototyping, said Stanford’s d.school in part of a memo written to the president just prior to the election. With rapid prototyping—quickly testing ideas with simple, cheap materials in real settings—government leaders can see what works and what doesn’t without investing in full-fledged pilot programs. via GOOD, published November 27, 2012.

Sandcastles Solidified Into Permanent Housing, With The Help Of Bacteria ~ By repurposing a process developed for construction, a team of designers discovered how to build a sandcastle that won’t wash away. via FastCo.Design, published November 20, 2012.

Introducing 200 Free Educational Resources for K-12 Students ~ Right now the collection features 200 helpful resources, including free video lessons/tutorialsfree mobile appsfree audiobooks, ebooks and textbooksquality YouTube channelsfree foreign language lessonstest prep materials; and free web resources in academic subjects such as literature, history, science and computing. via Open Culture, published November 26, 2012.

A Fixed Thing Is a Beautiful Thing: The Fixer’s Manifesto ~ From Sugru: Fixing is the unsung hero of creativity. And it really shouldn’t be. It’s the most common, humble and beautiful form of creativity. Let’s wear that belief proudly. Let’s notice and celebrate these little everyday triumphs, and help others see their value. We made this to fuel the conversation about why a culture of fixing is so important. via Core77, published November 26, 2012.

VIDEOS

For Muji’s Unsung Designers, Imperfection Breeds Good Design ~ In a new short produced by Herman Miller, the design duo behind hundred of Muji’s no-brand products speaks to why and how they work. via FastCo.Design, published November 26, 2012.

 

Museum interviews 9-year-old for head curator job ~ via 9News , published November 27, 2012.

 

The First Ever Music Video Filmed Entirely Using Instagram ~ via Petapixel, published November 27, 2012.

(Invasión – The Plastics Revolution (Video oficial/Official Music Video) from The Plastics Revolution on Vimeo.)

Woody Allen Answers 12 Unconventional Questions He Has Never Been Asked Before ~ via Open Culture, published November 28, 2012.

IMAGES

Hydro-Monuments of Rajasthan ~ These are extraordinary buildings, in purpose, structure, and ornamentation. Framing the everyday act of water-collection in such otherworldly architectural circumstances is a work of extravagant genius, yet seemingly one of a piece with the grandeur given to waterworks elsewhere. via BLDG BLOG, published November 22, 2012.

Aerial Images Capture the Hindu Color Festival by Katrin Korfmann ~ via Design Boom, published November 22, 2012.

Gotta Catch ‘Em All: Photog Spends Eight Years Capturing the 39 Birds of Paradise ~ Tim Laman spent a whopping eight years photographing all 39 birds-of-paradise species in the rainforests of New Guinea — the first time it has ever been done. via Petapixel, published November 23, 2012.

 Anamorphic sculptures by Bernard PrasBernard Pras uses objects and materials he finds in landfills to create his incredible anamorphic sculptures. His sculptures are often recreations of famous works of art, but he puts his own unique spin on these classics with his amazing optical illusion stacking technique. via Lost at E Minor, published November 26, 2012.

A Font Made Of Leaves ~ Kuala Lumpur-based designer Mei Linn Chan has created a hand-made type series using leaves. via DesignTaxi, published November 28, 2012.

 

Jean de La Fontaine

Of animals, the human kind

Are to excess the most inclined.

On low and high we make the charge,

Indeed, on the race at large.

There lives not the soul select

That sins not in this respect.

Of “Nothing too much,” the fact is,

All preach the truth, none practice.

-From Nothing Too Much

Happy Birthday to Jean who was born 391 years ago today, in 1621. What better way to kick off our redesigned blog, rethinkedLab, than on the birthday of Jean de La Fontaine, a regular of the 17th century Parisian salons.

De La Fontaine is perhaps the best-known French fabulist and poet of the 17th century. He is most famous for his Comtes which is a collection of roughly 240 fables, each whimsical, with speaking animals, a deep concern for every day human experiences and a moral lesson embedded in the story.

De La Fontaine is a household name in France where virtually every French child knows by heart the story of La Fourmi et La Cigale (The Grasshopper & The Ant ~ Book 1, Fable 1) and Le Corbeau et Le Renard (The Raven & The Stork ~ Book 1, Fable 2) ; the former demonstrating the consequences of procrastination and not planning ahead, while the latter warns of the perils of vanity.

Here are some charming retro illustrations done by Raoul Auger which were printed in a 1962 French edition of the Fables. (Click the link under the image to read the fable in English.)

To learn more about Jean de La Fontaine visit the Musée Jean de La Fontaine where you can enjoy a selection of the fables online and take a virtual tour of Chateau Thierry where de La Fontaine was born and lived for most of his life.

One of our favorite fables is that of  The Oak and the Reed (Book 1, Fable 22) as we aspire to and identify with the reed’s nimbleness, resilience, and adaptability.

Happy Sunday rethinkers!

Jean de La Fontaine

 

L’Ane Portant Des Reliques

(The Ass Carrying Relics ~ Book 5, Fable 14)

L’Huitre & Les Plaideurs

(The Oyster and The Litigants Book 9, Fable 9)

La Besace

(The Wallet ~ Book 1, Fable 7 )

 

La Genisse, La Chévre & La Brebis en Société Avec Le Lion

(The Heifer, the Goat and the Sheep, In Company With the Lion ~ Book 1, Fable 6)

 

La Laitière Et Le Pot Au Lait

(The Dairy Woman and The Pot of Milk ~ Book 7, Fable 11)

 

La Vieille Et Les Deux Servantes

(The Old Woman and Her Two Servants ~ Book 5, Fable 6)

 

Le Chameau Et Le Batons Flottants

(The Camel And The Floating Stick ~, Book 4, Fable 10)

 

Le Chat, La Belette & Le Petit Lapin

(The Cat, the Weasel & The Little Rabbit ~ Book 7, Fable 17)

 

Le Cheval S’étant Voulu Venger Du Cerf

(The Horse Wishing to Be Revenged on The Stag ~ Book 4, Fable 13)

 

Le Coq & Le Renard

(The Cock & The Fox ~ Book 2, Fable 15)

 

Le Paon Se Plaignant A Junon

(The Peacock Complaining to Juno ~ Book 2, Fable17)

 

Le Singe & Le Dauphin

(The Monkey & The Dolphin ~ Book 4, Fable 7)

Le Viellaird & Ses Enfants

(The Old Man and His Sons Book 4, Fable 18)

 

Les Animaux Malades de La Peste

(The Animals Sick of the Plague ~ Book 7, Fable 2)

 

La Tortue & Les Deux Canards

(The Tortoise and the Two Ducks ~ Book 10, Fable, 2)

Les Oreilles Du Lièvre

(The Ears of the Hare ~ Book 5, Fable 4)

 

 Fables De La Fontaine 1962 Edition from la Bibliotheque Rouge Et Or

Illustrated by Raoul Auger

 

 

 

 

 

 

If Only There Were More Time…

Is there a way to give teachers the time to experiment with their lessons and their classrooms?  Most teachers try out new ideas every year, so we could just say that experimenting happens, and that’s that–no problem to address.  But at the DT4E conference we were exposed to a different type of experimenting that demanded rapid prototyping, uninterrupted focus, and time to reflect.  As the group reimagined a library for the 21st century, we covered the Riverdale cafeteria with models and full-size sets, all made in less than an hour.  The creativity was remarkable, and I think that everyone felt more optimistic about successfully incorporating new ideas into their own teaching.

It’s hard to see teachers experimenting during the school year the same way we did at the DT4E conference or the same way they would in an explicitly experimental setting.  That doesn’t mean that teachers can’t experiment in their classrooms during the year; it’s just hard for them to experiment as deliberately and thoroughly as they might during a less harried time.  School days are crazy and frenetic, and finding time for reflection and analysis is no easy task when there are papers to grade, meetings to attend, and emails to answer.

Fortunately, schools have three months of every year when they aren’t in the go-go-go mode that makes authentic experimentation so difficult.  What if schools used their campuses as educational laboratories during the summer?  This program would be more than the summer day camps that many schools offer during the summer.  It would require students to be participants in K-12 research, and the focus would be on teacher enrichment, though the students would learn plenty as well.  One school could gather teachers and students from many surrounding schools so that the program would feel different than the academic year, with a different mix of people and a different sense of purpose.  Younger students could be enrolled in what looks like a summer camp, causing little change to their plans.  Older students could be paid an hourly rate to be in laboratory classes for a few weeks each summer.  These days teenagers are in need of jobs (teen unemployment was at 24.6% at the beginning of June), and plenty of teachers would be willing to sign on for some extra productive work during the summer months (stipend provided, of course).  Teachers could try new ideas, get feedback from real students, adjust their approach for the following class, and prepare for the coming school year in authentic, innovative ways.  Rapid prototyping, tailored for education.

Just an idea, one obviously in need of some further thought (and some funding), but it could easily lead to some fantastic new ideas in K-12 education.  Then again, maybe this idea has already been implemented elsewhere.  If it has, please post the info.

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