We have been reading books about hats and inventors in second grade library. The first book we read was Boss of the Plains: The Hat that Won the West by Laurie Carlson with pictures by Holly Meade. It tells the true story of how J.B. Stetson invented the Boss of the Plains hat to suit the rough life of cowboys and gold miners out West. When we finished reading the book, we asked students to identify the needs that existed and the features of the hats that meet those needs. For example, the big brim kept the rain off their back and the sun out of their eyes.
Next we read Stormy's Hat: Just Right for a Railroad Man by Eric A. Kimmel with pictures by Andrea U'Ren. This book shows how Stormy tried many hats to find one that would fit with his job as a train engineer. After many failures he describes his ideal hat to his wife, Ada, who makes it for him. The hat caught on with other engineers and can still be seen in train yards today. Once again students identified needs for the job and features of the hat that met them. These included fabric that doesn't catch on fire and is easy to clean and a tight fit so that it doesn't blow off when the engineer pokes his head out the train window.
Finally we read a tall tale based loosely on how Levi Strauss invented jeans to withstand the rough life in the gold fields. We used this story to discuss qualities that make a good inventor. The students came up with many traits including: patience, confidence, perseverance, imagination, ability to brainstorm and get feedback from others, and not being afraid to mess up. We had a lot of fun reading about these inventors and the second graders are inspired to try inventing themselves!
Last week, MCDS alum Zio Ziegler painted a mural in the Dragon Room. Those of us lucky enough to witness Zio at work were amazed by his skill and watched, fascinated, through the windows. For everyone who didn't get a chance to see Zio at work and everyone who would like to watch it again, Kevin Schoenbohm made this video capturing the process. Enjoy!
"The most important developments in civilization have come through the creative process, but ironically, most people have not been taught to be creative."
Robert Fritz, The Path of Least Resistance, 1994
These books are available in the LRC to spark your creative thinking this summer.
Steal Like an Artist: 10 things nobody told you about being creative by Austin Kleon is a fun book. It is full of quotes that will make you think.
"Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic." Jim Jarmusch.
The ten transformative principles will help your build a more creative life.
In Cracking Creativity: The Secrets of Creative Genius by Michale Michalko, the author examines in each chapter a different creative thinking strategy. This is a very readable book; just reading the introduction in which he summarizes the eight strategies will get your creative juices flowing.
Check out the exercises and thought experiments on his website:
IMAGINE : How Creativity Works by Jonah Lehrer
"Flummoxed by an intractable problem? You probably just need to work harder, right? Actually, try taking a walk instead. Thanks to how we’re hardwired, insight tends to strike suddenly—after we’ve stopped looking. In this entertaining Gladwell-esque plunge into the science of creativity, Jonah Lehrer mingles with a wide cast of characters—inventors, educators, scientists, a Pixar co-founder, an autistic surfing savant—to deconstruct how we accomplish our great feats of imagination. Notable themes emerge: Failure is necessary. The more people you casually rub shoulders with—on and off the job—the more good ideas you’ll have. And societies that unduly restrict citizens’ ability to borrow from the ideas of others—see our broken patent system—do so at their peril."
Watch Mr. Lehrer explain his thinking here:
Although the author of Manager's Guide to Fostering Innovations and Creativity in Teams comes from a corporate culture, Charles Prather gives helpful advice to anyone interested in implementing innovation. Key points are how to create an environment that gets people thinking creatively, how to align teams to work toward creative solutions, and how to build a self-sustaining culture of innovation.