Introduction thinking styles, frames of references (Gardner,1984)

Introduction

Over
the past decades, creativity has been widely acclaimed as a hereditary
disposition of the genius who are the few gifted individuals endowed with
spontaneous aha! moments and unique styles of thinking that leads to phenomenal
accomplishments. This is the ‘myth of the genius’ (Weisberg 1993, p.89) that
places people like Mozart, Pablo Picasso, Albert Einstein, Leonardo de Vinci and
Michael Michelangelo in a special category of the creative genius as the only ones
who can create. It postulates creativity as a mystical process that ordinary
people aren’t privy to.

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Howbeit,
a recent variant of this paradigm challenges this assumption that creativity
emerges from spontaneous inventions or flashes of inspirations resulting from
sub-conscious mental processes Weisberg (1993). Instead it argues that creativity
results from combined ordinary thinking styles acquired through logic, hard
work and training (Bilton, 2007). Further, other commentators hypothesise that
creativity emerges when the creative individuals combine multiple thinking
styles, frames of references (Gardner,1984) and contradictory ideas(Barron,1988)
to form a creative output and it can be achieved by teams and not only
individuals (Csikszentmihalyi, 2006). Considering this hypothesis, Bilton (2007)
further proposes that creativity might be better understood as a collective
team-based process rather than as individual’s inspiration. Therefore, focusing
creativity exclusively on the giftedness of a single individual is to misrepresent
the interactive nature of the causal factors of creativity within teams. The
creation of the ‘NUBS’, our six-page pop-up book displayed the interactional nature
of team’s creativity within a cross-cultural context that debunks the myth of
the creative genius. The ‘NUBS’ is a creative convergence of iconic landmarks
of national heritage from six different countries spread across four continents.

Drawing
from the tenets of the literature explored, this reflective report is a thematic
account of my experiential understanding of creativity with regards to the
creative product, creative process, creative personalities, creative teams and
cross-cultural creativity throughout the creative project. Conclusively, a balanced
understanding of creativity and its impact in cross-cultural teams is proffered.

Creative Product

For a product to be creative, it must
prove to be novel and original (Kaufman and Sternberg, 2010), accepted as
useful (Runco and Jaeger, 2012) and surprising (Simonton, 2012). The novelty of
a product is the extent by which it deviates from the traditional forms that
exist (Stein, 1993). The ‘NUBS’ is considered as novel because it was hand-made
thus deviating from the conventional printing process by which pop-up books are
manufactured. Even though we wanted our product to be fully hand-designed
including the images, Weisberg (2015) reckons that in some cases, novel ideas
build on preceding ideas. We therefore modified internet copyright-free images (UK
Patent Office) for those we couldn’t draw by hand.

Boden (2004) says there must be a
consensual validation that the creative product is useful for others. Indeed, our
pop-up book can be a useful learning tool for children in elementary school. Because
it’s visual and interactive, it can be used for storytelling and training kids’
imagination to picture themselves inside the story thus facilitating deeper
understanding and sharp memory.

In line with Simonton’s (2012)
view that creative product must be surprising, our pop-up book presented surprising
iconic landmarks that aren’t obviously known about our countries. My page had
the Big Five’s African rarest species unveiled, replacing the famous great
wild-beast migration and Maasai jewellery. Archana’s page had Meenakshi Amman
temple replacing the famous Taj Mahal. Jonah’s page was more personalised with ‘Lemon’
his music band and Netherlands Utrecht’s Dom Tower where he lived replacing
UK’s London Eye. Megan’s page had Abraham Lincoln’s memorial replacing the Statute
of Liberty and the Grand Canyon renown for the USA. Becky’s feeding the Panda
and Chinese gate replaced the Great Wall of China and Sunny’s Cox’s Bazaar
beach replacing the famous Bay of Bengal, Bangladesh.

In view of the 4C’s model of
creativity (Kauffman and Beghetto, 2009), the ‘NUBS’ falls within little-c and
mini-c dichotomies which includes everyday creative learning and personal
interpretation of knowledge within a given socio-cultural context. Even though
it wasn’t an eminent discovery, we creatively used our knowledge and skills in
the process.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Creative Process

At the beginning of the idea
generation stage, we utilized Osborn’s brainstorming technique and engaged in
creative and divergent thinking (Runco, 2010) when Becky’s pop-up idea emerged.
We knew how a pop-up book looks like, but we were sceptical whether we could
make it by hand. Equally, Archana suggested that we do something in tourism,
but the idea was somewhat ambiguous and passive. Despite that, we suspended
judgement (Amabile, 1993), embraced freewheel and openness to experience
(Shalley et al., 2004) to facilitate more ideas.

At the second stage of the
process, we exercised convergent thinking (Thompson, 2003) and evaluated the
two suggested ideas in the light of their strengths and implementation processes.
Considering Runco’s (2004) hitchhike or piggyback proposition of extending the
line of thought on the suggested idea, everyone unanimously agreed on Becky’s
idea because it was clearly defined. We actively engaged critical thinking
(Nickerson, 1999) as we evaluated the design of the book, images to be used, materials
required and associated costs, which informed us to proceed with the idea.

Regarding the design of the book,
material used and related costs, we agreed to have six-page hand-made pop-up
book designed on the cardstocks. Collectively contributed the money required
and went to purchase all the items together.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Concerning the images to be used,
I proposed the idea of choosing iconic landmarks to represent our national
cultural heritage. Jonah furthered that those landmarks shouldn’t be commonly
known so that it can be surprising (Simonton, 2012). I suggested the seventh
page be included, with Tyne’ bridge to represent Newcastle where we met, but we
dismissed it when Megan explained that was a complex image and its modification
would be difficult. Archana furthered that we add an imaginary tourist character
visiting our countries then finalise the trip at Newcastle’s seventh page. This
also was dismissed because we had agreed on a 3-layer pop-up on each page and
Becky explained that owing to the cardstock’s thickness, adding another image meant
an additional fourth layer which would make the book unfoldable.

Even though we were excited about
the spontaneity of the pop-up idea, about the process and output. We had to constrain
our options (Runco, 2010) to only shapes of images that would be easily folded
and pop-up. For instance, my initial image was the African map whose bottom tip
was too thin to form a base for my page, I had to start all over again to design
the animal’s separately and abandon the map idea. Since it was obvious that
none of us was artistic in drawing except Becky and Jonah, Megan suggested that
the rest of us could use copyright-free internet images (UK Patent Office) and
modify it with a photoshop software to give us almost natural themes we wanted.

Combined individual efforts yields the “assembly bonus effect” (Kerr and
Tindale 2004, p.3) that expedites the team’s creative process. As
evident in our group, Becky taught us the process of making book, but it was
upon everyone’s responsibility to work on their images and ensure it pops-up on
the cardstock. We always worked together in the same place for easy
consultation from Becky should anyone be stuck. In assembling the book, we
brainstormed again on how we will present the book and describe the meaning of
our pages. Archana suggested storytelling style in a classroom setup. Jonah
suggested recording NUBS song on a teeny-tiny sound card recorder that would be
put inside the book so that it pops-up with the song. He further ordered it
online, but upon arrival it had limited gigabytes storage insufficient for all
our presentation. Megan suggested video interview style and we unanimously
agreed on that.