All posts tagged R. Keith Sawyer

Old School Creativity: 5 Classics on Innovation Still Stand

A batch of fresh-baked creativity books fills the Amazon.com oven. Creativity is all the rage.

Last year, in a set of articles in “The Atlantic,” William Deresiewicz and Robinson Meyer debated the cultural-historical arc from “artisan,” through “genius” to “creative.” Deresiewicz derides the last term, finding it more hipster than helpful.

I have some sympathy for Deresiewicz’s attachment to bygone definitions of artistry and innovation. Much of the contemporary school of creativity has taken a distinctly self-help, pop psychology turn. A turn patently unhelpful to teachers, especially in higher ed., whose efforts to engage and facilitate discovery must be reliable and reproducible.

While rock-star authors like Elizabeth Gilbert and business gurus like Pixar’s Ed Catmull get much of the ink (virtual and otherwise) now, some older explorations of creativity stand strong as time-tested research and rumination on promoting ingenuity and vision.

5 Throwback Books on Creativity to Add to Goodreads

The Creative Process edited by Brewster Ghiselin

Includes nearly 40 selections, many brief and potent, on creativity in the arts and sciences written by figures from Poincaré to Picasso, Stein to Einstein

The Mathematician’s Apology by G.H. Hardy

Accessible even to those outside mathematics, Hardy, a 19th century British mathematician—who believed “the creative life was the only one for the serious man”– explores the aesthetics of mathematics

Art & Fear by David Bayles and Ted Orland

Though anchored in the creation of visual art, Bayles and Orland address contextual influences on the creative process—the classroom, institutional demands, finances, criticism and good ole fear

Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Many educators know Csikszentmihalyi’s flow theory. Here he draws on interviews with creators from many backgrounds to examine flow in innovation

The Shape of Content by Ben Shahn

The first and last chapters, particularly, of this Harvard professor and painter’s reflections on creativity stare straight at the tensions between structure and freedom elicited by the liberal arts institution

If your grading load (or kids’ ages) won’t allow a book-length read now, head to the databases with one name: R. Keith Sawyer. Editor of the (literal) textbook on creativity– Explaining Creativity: The Science of Human Innovation—Sawyer also has several articles relevant to creativity and the classroom. These include:

  • “Distributed creativity: How collective creations emerge from collaboration.” With Stacy DeZutter in Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts 3.2
  • “The Cognitive Neuroscience of Creativity: A Critical Review.” Creativity Research Journal 23.2
  • “Improvisation and the Creative Process: Dewey, Collingwood, and the aesthetics of spontaneity.” Journal of Aesthetics & Art Criticism 58.2