Creativity

This book was written by Ed Catmull, president of Pixar. It describes the process used to create a high trust, risk taking group of learners who push the edges of technology. I liked the honesty about the progress, barriers, and lessons learned along the way. There are starting points that are outlined in the back of the book which can be a beginning place for our discussion.

5 thoughts on “Creativity”

  1. I chose to read Creativity, Inc. I found parts to be particularly compelling and thought provoking, as it looks at creativity from a different perspective than education professional development books. I think that it would be especially beneficial for school administrators to read.

    In the introduction, Ed Catmull describes two key parts to fostering creativity in any environment: a sense of community and the encouragement of self-expression. Both of these are very applicable to an educational setting. As educators we try to instill a sense of community in our classroom, which can certainly help to foster creative group work and discussion.

    Another point that I found interesting was about Ed Catmull’s personal experience producing Toy Story affected him. He had worked for decades on pursing his goal of producing a computer animated film. When he had achieved his goal, even though he had work to do, he felt lost. He lacked that sense of drive and purpose. I wonder if many of our students would perform better in school if we were able to instill that sense of purpose in them.

    I also loved how he stressed that we should not fear failure. This is important for us as educators and for our students. As teachers, we are often fearful that if we take a risk and teach something in an unorthodox way and it fails, that there will be punitive measures from our administrators. We make sometimes make choices based on this fear and stick with the lesson that was “good enough” that we used last year. But this fear keeps us from being great instead of good enough. The idea that there shouldn’t punitive measures for failure, but rather opportunities for peer feedback, self-reflection and self-correction I found to be useful in our profession and for our students. Many of our students don’t want to try things because they have failed before and don’t want to fail again. But if we can support an environment where failure is not seen as a negative, our students may feel more apt to participate.

  2. This was an excellent book to read, not only because it told a story of people who pushed the edges of technology, but also how they achieved their success while building Pixar. Pixar became successful by learning from their failures and setbacks, and by providing an effective collaborative working environment to bring out the best among team members.

    In particular, I like how the book reinforces my belief that failure is way of finding new solutions to achieve particular goals, and to truly be innovative, “you must start things that might fail” or basically, be willing to take a risk while pursuing your dreams and/or ideas.

    One of the starter points “Give a good idea to a mediocre team, and they will screw it up. Give a mediocre idea to a great team, and they will either fix it up or come with something better” really made me think about the endless possibilities that can come from groups that help push each other to a higher level of achievement.

    Overall, this is a great book to read, especially for those who work in a collaborative environment, and for “managers” who oversee collaborative projects. I look forward to discussing this book.

  3. It seems that we humans have a knack for learning from failing. Perhaps it might be an interesting coursework to teach how failure benefits us all. Well, perhaps it isn’t worthy of a whole class, but certainly some rumination is merited.

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