The ogre of orginality

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The creative writer combines originality, complexity, independence of judgment, and aesthetic sensitivity according to the research of Frank Barron, who was known for his in depths studies of the creative mind. His subjects often took extremely complex elements to produce a final product that was elegant and deceptively simple.

Barron found that creative people could hold two opposite views at the same time and yet see no contraction. Basically, they could be both naive and knowledgeable, emotional and logical, or disciplined and free spirited.[1]

Such dichotomies tend to become better integrated  as people grow older. For creative adolescents, this lack of integration may appear as moodiness or fickle thinking as they try to balance ideas at opposite poles. For example, adolescents may push the envelope when it comes to being different from older people, but not from their peers. In fact this age group exhibits more conformity to their classmates than any other.

As teenagers are highly prone to conformity, they pay a lot of attention to what their classmates do. Grading based on originality encourages them to break this pattern of behavior. Of course, originality is determined by how an idea differs from those of one’s peers.  Rather than ask how can a teacher grade students based on what other students do, inquire how they cannot do this.

For a teacher comparing the work of students to each other becomes second nature, with a few setting the bar for the rest of the class. However, originality is determined by how an idea differs from those of one’s peers, and not how much it follows the lead of those that the teacher favors. After students complete their assignments it is valuable for them to compare their ideas to the others in their class. During this time they must to be encouraged not to imitate but differentiate when working.

Generating ideas that are original and different from others around them is extremely valuable for adolescents. These ideas are springboards to innovations and solutions to  problems of the future.

Barron, Frank and Harrington, David M., Creativity, Intelligence, and Personality by Frank Barron. Annual Review of Psychology, 32 (1981): 439–476

This entry was posted in Creativity, Educational trends and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The ogre of orginality

  1. knlistman says:

    Reblogged this on Write about what? and commented:

    Why originality in the classroom is so difficult…

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