The world is changing. We are preparing people today for jobs and contexts that do not yet exist. The key to thriving, not merely surviving into the future is creativity.
Creativity is the theme for JALT 2010. Creativity was once thought to be inspired by the gods or a gift bestowed upon humans from other worldly sources. In recent years there has been a growing acceptance that creativity is a cluster of skills, attitudes and motivation that comes about via a complex interaction of biological, psychological and social factors. Several types of creativity have been identified (Boden, 2001) including combinational creativity (the skills to produce new ideas by associating or combining old ideas in unfamiliar ways), exploratory creativity (learning rules and then exploring what the rules allow one to do), and transformational creativity (altering, adapting or breaking conceptual rules). Creativity is a habit of mind, which strives to be creative.
"Any experience that results from the interaction of an individual with his or her environment—and in which the individual manipulates and shapes that environment—can be called art. The quality of this interaction is influenced by teachers' decisions, their timing, their choice of tasks, even the use of their voices. When all this happens, when everything flows, …teaching ceases to be an action and becomes art" (Pugliese, 2005).
Creativity is part of every teacher's capacity to think on his or her feet—a kind of 'improvisational performance,' which requires the teacher to be able to develop a capacity to feel the environment and react accordingly. Creativity also allows the teacher to devise ways to solve more complex instructional problems, design new exercises, or even think of a new teaching method.
Many teachers express their creativity through intellectual curiosity—the compelling desire to study and understand a situation. And it is driven, of course, by a desire to teach more effectively, to learn from our experiences, because thinking outside the box is not just a matter of coming up with completely original and spontaneous thoughts out of thin air. Rather, it is sparked by the context that individuals find themselves in: thinking outside of this contextual 'box' allows them to see it from a different angle and opens up limitless possibilities.
Creativity is also part of a life long drive for self-actualization. In other words, creativity provides the space for the development of a sense of personal and professional achievement. It reminds us that we are more than just working teachers seeking professional satisfaction: we are individuals aspiring to higher planes of achievement. Aside from all this, creativity is a huge antidote for those phases of burn out that hit us all from time to time. Creativity is fun!
So join us at JALT 2010 for something beyond the usual workshops and plenary speeches. Along with traditional presentation formats, the conference committee welcomes unusual ideas, proposals and innovations. Come on and surprise us—show the world what can happen when we think outside the box.
Steve Brown & Donna Tatsuki
JALT 2010 Conference Co-Chairs
Boden, M. (2001). Dimensions of creativity. Boston: MIT Press.
Pugliese, C. (2005). Teaching out-of-the-box: Creativity in the classroom. Imagine…International Alliance for Learning Newsletter, June 2005.