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  • Writer's picturecarolyn land

Stagnant Thinking

“I felt so insufficiently equipped, so weak, and at the same time it seemed to me that my reflections on art were correct.  I quarreled with all the world and myself.”  Edgar Degas

Do you have trouble thinking out of the box or are you stuck in a rut?  Most of the time we don’t need to be creative for what we do, but when there is a need to think in a new and different way and be creative, for some of us our attitude gets in the way.

Sometimes we suffer from stagnant thinking because we have met success doing something a certain way, and get into an… “If it works don’t fix it” attitude.   Other times we are just afraid to try something new.  You know that feeling… What happens if it doesn’t work and I fail?  That’s when we must remember that, it is our errors that are our portal to discovery. Another reason we are not creative is how we have been educated. So many classrooms are structured for young people to learn facts. They are not asked what would you do in this situation, or is there another way to solve this problem?

I taught education classes at a local university.  The only thing most of the undergraduate students wanted to learn was how to use the teachers’ manual, how to teach to the test.  It was a sad experience, thinking this was our next generation of teachers.   They weren’t interested in creative motivational strategies or teaching critical thinking skills.  However, when I was teaching graduate students who had been out in the field, they did want to know those things. They had discovered there is not one right answer. Children have different leaning styles and you must bring as many options to the classroom as you can, to reach everyone.  The teacher’s manual has only one answer.  They had real knowledge of the what it takes to get children involved. You have to get creative and think out of the box!  We have all experienced the “teacher’s manual” teacher at one time or another. Would we be better off today if we had been exposed to more creative problem solving? Would we experience less stagnant thinking?

Painting by FL artist Carolyn Land

From Deep Within     Alternative Surface

Other things that stifle our creativity are things we say to ourselves: it’s not logical, it doesn’t follow the rules, playing is a waste of time, that’s not my area, to err is wrong, it’s a waste of supplies, I am not creative enough. How do you know those things unless you have given it a good shot? Because someone told you or inferred it along the way. Since these creative blocks have been learned, sometimes we need to unlearn what we know, to move forward. So, give yourself a mental kick, and dislodge the negative assumptions that keep you thinking the same old thing!

Creative thinking involves playing with the knowledge you have, to see what new things you can do with what you know.  Go play the revolutionary and break the rules! Be the inventor and discover a new way to use all those glorious materials!  Risk that glorious failure! Have fun and let the creativity you were born with blossom, instead of playing it safe.

“I have tricks for myself to actually reach that point of solitary creativity.  One of them is pretending that I have an idea.  But that trick does not survive very long, because I don’t really trust ideas-especially good ones.  Rather I put my trust in the materials that confront me, because they put me in touch with the unknown.  It’s then that I begin to work…when I don’t have the comfort of sureness and certainty.” Robert Rauschenberg

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