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Playshop 1: Play

“What you are doing becomes worth doing for its own sake”
— Csikszentmihalyi

Essential Questions:
So what is creativity?
How does it work?
Can it be taught?
What’s the creativity – technology connection?

All good questions, in fact, essential questions for an inquiry into creativity through digital storytelling.

In this playshop, we’ll begin by exploring Daniel Pink’s theory of creativity that he proposed in his bestselling 2010 book, A Whole New Mind (*Heads-up: This book is included on the Virtual Bookshelf if you’d like to complete a Roots and Wings Project on it). In his book, Pink describes six elements of creativity and provides activities for developing each more fully. Consider it a self-help book for creativity. We’ll use these six (design, story, symphony, empathy, meaning, and play) plus metaphor as a structure for exploring creativity in this course. A touchstone article that you can return to throughout our study of Pink’s six elements is Garr Reynolds’s “From Design to Meaning, A Whole New Way of Presenting.”

We’ll begin our exploration of the elements with possibly the most important — play. That’s right. Play, in this creative sense, refers to the ability to find immersion, joy, and even flow through creative endeavor. Csikszentmihalyi’s transformative theory of flow explains why even hard work can seem like play and can make us feel happy. In fact, Seymour Papert calls such work “hard play.” Play can be part of the collaborative process or the lone creator’s individual absorption. In his TED Talk, Csikszentmihalyi described his research with creative people that led to his breakthrough in learning about happiness.

Maria Popova is one of the Web’s most creative curators and we’ll use her work throughout the semester. In this video essay, Popova introduces us to John Cleese’s legendary lecture on creativity. Cleese explains his theory of the importance of play in the creative process.

John Cleese on Play . . .

Or to watch the entire Cleese speech without interruption.

After viewing, reflect on what you’ve learned and how you might “put more and more of that flow challenge into everyday life” — reflect on what you know about your own creative process.

© 2013 Creative Inquiry

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