I attended the State of Creativity Forum in Oklahoma City on Nov. 13 and the cSchool Bootcamp (a hands on creative problem solving workshop) the day before. It was great to be surrounded with such great creative thinkers. Today’s comic features the Opening Keynote speaker, Sir Ken Robinson (@SirKenRobinson), and the Closing Keynote speaker, Gregg Fraley (@greggfraley). Both of these fantastic men have my sincere apology for my attempts to capture them in cartoon form. Interestingly Elvis Presley made an appearance in both keynotes (no, not the man himself which I’m sure is a disappointment to you conspiracy theorists out there). Ken Robinson used the example of Elvis being shut out of his high school glee club as a way of showing that our talents are often buried beneath the surface, much like natural resources. Yet when the conditions and opportunities are right, things we would normally think as unimaginable can become possible when our talents are allowed to shine through. Gregg Fraley took a different approach by starting his keynote by asking the entire audience to stand up and essentially channel their inner Elvis. I felt that this Elvis connection served as a great metaphor for creativity in general, perhaps in a different way than these two presenters had in mind. But I’ll touch on that in a minute.
When it comes to being creative, the core message of the forum was that everyone is creative in some capacity. It’s simply realizing how you are creative. Ken Robinson writes about finding your “Element,” the place where your talents and passions meet. However, as noted in yesterday’s keynote, creating the conditions in which creativity can flourish is essential. Unfortunately so many people restrain their creativity because they often feel that it isn’t valued. As Gregg Fraley said in his breakout session, a typical first reaction to a new idea is “vomit.” Robert Sternberg argues that when it comes to creativity we should buy low and sell high. Often new, creative ideas aren’t particularly popular, but then again if everyone fully supports your idea it likely isn’t a very creative solution. With all of these forces seemingly working against creativity (especially in education), it is sometimes difficult to share your creative ideas or even let the process take effect. But this is why I think the imagery of Elvis is powerful in regard to creativity. If Elvis walked into the room, you’d know it. People would stop. They’d look. They’d listen. With the hair, the stride, and the confidence, it would honestly be kind of hard to miss. Our creativity should exude this same sort of aura, radiating from us. Not to an obnoxious level mind you, but we need to show more confidence in our ability to be creative beings. We need to put ourselves out there and have a go. Our creativity should shine through and grab people’s attention as if we were dressed as an Elvis impersonator. People won’t be able to miss it or ignore it. They’ll not only listen, but you may find that they are genuinely interested in what you have to say. Don’t keep it bottled up or locked away. We should work the hair, shake our hips, and tell ourselves and world that we are “verra, verra CREATIVE people!”