What Drives True Creativity?
In The Creative Brain, Neuroscientist Dr David Eagleman explores the brain’s role and behavior in creativity by interviewing professionals in a wide range of fields — refreshingly, some of which are not labeled as creative fields, such as engineering, nanotechnology, and education.
It’s not a showcase of brilliance or an ode to superstar creatives as one might expect, but real stories of how people used creativity to experiment with new and better ways to do things, to help others, and turn lives around.
Creativity: process and results
The stories and interviews highlight the process and results of creative people and their pursuits. A scientist adapts a toy’s design to create medical solutions. Prisoners who learn the arts find a sense of self-worth. A school of underperforming students experience a breakthrough in teaching.
Woven into the stories are 3 principles for creativity that makes a difference:
1 — Try something new / get off the path of least resistance
2 — Push boundaries
3 — Don’t be afraid to fail
The documentary is accessible and down-to-earth, reminding us that creativity is not about originality (is there really even such a thing?), but an approach to experimentation and building on what exists.
Creativity can involve taking two unlikely unrelated concepts or ideas and integrating them in novel ways. Writing books and stories is “not avoiding what came before but using it for what you are about to create.” It’s not about the individual; there’s always a larger story.
And while everyone can have a solid creative process, in this documentary, it’s the results that reveal the heart of creativity: one of the most important elements of practicing creativity is caring enough to initiate change where it’s needed.
Creativity results in change
These are two examples featured that show how creativity can change lives.
1 Taking creativity to prison
Tim Robbins of The Shawshank Redemption fame directed his expertise toward teaching an acting class in prison. A man named Zachary Levin taught creative writing in prison. The inmates share about how the creative arts helped them articulate emotions, express their thoughts, and value themselves. Tim and Zachary’s creative classes came from a heart that cared for prisoners.
2 Engaging kids through creativity
A school was faced with the prospect of closing down because their kids were not scoring well in tests. So they tried something different — every subject contained something that kids love: art. Math and science both incorporated art and became a joyful experience for the kids. They learned how to think, not just what formulas to follow. And it worked — kids were learning with amazing engagement levels.
Creativity is caring
When you care about something, when you want to solve a problem, creativity gets activated.
And much of true creativity goes unseen.
Creativity’s role is to bring good in to the world, solutions in times of problems.
Creativity is not a field for pursuing superstardom, but a way of thinking and living built into every human being.
The human brain is creative by nature, and it works best when paired with a caring heart.