Finding real-world examples and ideas around how people create, the things they create, and giving some depth to the idea of what is the essence of creativity is a powerful thing. Barron (1997) gives an understanding of his interaction with creativity, how the book is understood, and some basic inspection of creativity as a process during the introduction of Barron, Montuori and Barron’s (1997) book. I found his discussion on the nature of creativity especially interesting. He describes that “after an IQ of 115 or 120, there appears to be hardly any relationship at all” (p. 13) to a person’s creativity and that factors related to personality and motivation become much more important. Some of those factors are a persons motivation and ability to work independently, demonstrating autonomy, and flexibility of thoughts and actions. These tend to be more important when we start looking at creativity.
Barron (1997) goes on to describe some personality traits and motivations that are found in creative persons. These include the (1) desire to create, (2) independence of judgment and resistance to conformity, (3) willingness to take risks, (4) personality style, especially introversion, (5) and an ability to make connections along with seeing things in new ways, challenging assumptions. Each of these personality traits, with the possible exception of the fourth one, seem to be things that could be practiced and enhanced by somebody looking to grow their creative abilities. They might take changing some of our perspectives to being more analytical and taking a critical eye to our environment, or taking risks when we tend to play things safe. For each one, it gives an idea of what somebody could do increase their creativity. On this note of increasing our creativity, I found myself considering Barron’s statement that “some families foster creativity more than others do” (p. 15) and wondering what I could be doing in my family to be better at fostering more creativity.
Fairly tied to these traits and motivations, is the way that the book is divided into sections that dive into creative aspects. Within each of these aspects of creativity, there are several stories by various creatives connected that help to flesh out those ideas in practice. The sections include the uncovered heart, the opened mind, the web of imagination, the creative ecology, the dedication to mastery, and the courage to go naked. I find myself drawn to each of these as a perspective. The courage to go naked dives into that ability to take risks. The desire to create has its hands in the uncovered heart and open mind. The web of imagination could be related to our ability to make connections and to see new things through the patterns that we find (Barron et al., 1997).
The idea of creative ecology is probably one of the parts that I find most exciting. Isaacson (2008) in his biography on Einstein described the Olympian Academy, a group of people that Einstein met with and talked about philosophy and physics. When I read the book years ago and to this day, I remember feeling that I need to have a similar group in my life. I’ve often wondered how I can form a group of other scholars to surround myself with others also making intellectual pursuits and improve our way of thinking. While I would say that I still don’t have that in my everyday in-person life currently, it is one of the things I am most excited about this Ph.D. program and it allows me to connect with others making intellectual pursuits and we can sharpen each other as we go.
Many of the stories in Barron et al. (1997) work stand out and give both creative insight and a practical relationship to the creative. Maybe it is my connection and fellowship in careers with Feynman (1997), that is why I felt so connected and inspired by some of his words. But I found myself relating to his experiences of having to prepare lectures, and not being able to imagine taking a job that didn’t allow me to do some teaching. Da Vinci (1997) gives the example of looking at anatomy, and how many skills might have to be developed (such as drawing, geometrical demonstration, mathematics). Learning to come and both find ways to learn and grow with each other and our skills seems vital to the development of our creative skills.
Barron, F. (1997) Introduction. In Barron, F., Montuori, A., & Barron, A. (Eds.) Creators on creating: Awakening and cultivating the imaginative mind. New York, NY: Tarcher / Penguin.
Barron, F., Montuori, A., & Barron, A. (1997) Creators on creating: Awakening and cultivating the imaginative mind. New York, NY: Tarcher / Penguin.
Da Vinci, L. (1997) Anatomy. In Barron, F., Montuori, A., & Barron, A. (Eds.) Creators on creating: Awakening and cultivating the imaginative mind. New York, NY: Tarcher / Penguin.
Feynman, R. (1997) The dignified professor. In Barron, F., Montuori, A., & Barron, A. (Eds.) Creators on creating: Awakening and cultivating the imaginative mind. New York, NY: Tarcher / Penguin.
Isaacson, W. (2008) Einstein: His life and universe. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster Paperbacks.
This essay was originally submitted as a part of online coursework for TSD 8125: Creative Inquiry - Scholarship for the 21st Century. Along with this essay, I also created an infographic describing the book that can be seen on my blog - Creators on Creating Book [Infographic]