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Colloquium - Nake

Notes on Creativity and Learning
Frieder Nake
University of Bremen/University of the Arts Bremen, Germany
3/14/2007
11:30am-1:00pm

We tend to believe that we are in control of our own learning processes, and that teachers can control learning processes of other individuals. Educational institutions in large numbers are based on this assumption. Evidence shows that, indeed, certain skills and facts can be drilled. We learn how to read and write this way, how to do a bit of arithmetic, how to type fast, and even master the PC operating systems to the point where we feel comfortable. But that is essentially what controlled drill programs are about: basic skills.

However, if acquiring basic skills was all we can explicitly control of the learning process, the disappointment would be great, and money would not flow in great lumps. Therefore, practitioners and theoreticians of learning try hard to improve their understanding of learning and, as a consequence, to change and improve their dealing with students. Yet, there is not much more than preparing learning environments, i.e. environments for other people to come and engage in activities that later turn out to have been learning processes.

Creativity is a nice word for processes we don't understand much of, and yet, a lot of research has been going into this area, in particular since the Sputnik shock. That's okay because a lot of better understanding of creative processes has emerged. Nevertheless, most of creativity remains a myth -- something we have a faint inkling of but don't understand explicitly.

To study creativity can only be to study past processes of creative behavior. "Be creative!" is definitely the wrong advice in a learning situation. Providing environments for people to be with other people, with things, materials, devices, media, machines, and flexibly be allowed what they want to do, is the only way we should go.

The talk will present a small selection of experience in teaching quite different courses at various levels of the university.

Sponsored by the Center for Lifelong Learning & Design.

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