During some research on Thomas Edison I stumbled on the fact that he deliberately surrounded himself with a diverse range of expertise in order to generate new thinking and ideas, a creative council. In a recent post I referred to the concept of “casting widely” to make creative connections, Edison gathered people into his creative council to accelerate this. It is a practice that has been replicated by many visionaries, inventors and, more recently, innovative companies.
Classroom Creative Council
Andrew Carnegie called this creative council a “mastermind group alliance” a gathering of people towards a common creative goal. I was struck by this lovely idea, not so much in the sense of connecting classrooms with a varied external expertise, but the idea that you could convene an imaginary Classroom Creative Council.
Encouraging a creative mindset and learning about what this actually means can be done through creative inquiry processes such as design thinking. They emphasise the imperative of thinking and connecting deeply with a topic and developing a range of dispositions. But one hugely important element within an experience of creative inquiry is the modelling from peers, adults and who we might learn about.
Just picture an imaginary Classroom Creative Council of visionaries, inventors and innovators from our past and present, who epitomise the mindsets and dispositions we all want to uphold. A Creative Council filled with members that everyone in the class has learned about and who we recognise for their individual strengths.
Who Would Have A Seat?
You might plan for literacy, science and history lessons about these characters as they are introduced, or indeed offer the opportunity for the class to put forward their own recommendations for the council. The reason you would have such a reference group would be as Wily Walnut puts it, to:
“tune in” to the vibration, to the morphic field, to the archetypal meme, perhaps to the very soul of that person in order to share in their wisdom, insight and ways of thinking, acting and being.
With one of the members of the Creative Council in mind we might ask a series of questions and provocations to establish a new point of view about a project or idea. Imagine if Edison or Da Vinci, or any number of creative visionaries, were the subject of the following prompts:
- What would…think?
- How would … approach this problem?
- What historical precedent or example can inform us about what to do next?
- Who would be smiling about what we are doing and why?
- What would … say are the biggest challenges to this approach?
- What actions would … take next?
- What would … say we had forgotten and why?
- Would … be proud of us?
In order to answer these questions well, with a depth and authority that allows a new perspective to contribute to our work, we would need to better understand the people involved. The members of our council should be familiar to us, we would need to know their mindset and approach to work and life. Equipped with a deeper knowledge of these role models, we might be able to gain insight from their imaginary mentorship.
I am always inspired myself by historical figures who are beacons of creative light for us to follow and in some future posts I will outline some of the elements we might look for in those figureheads.
In the meantime why not make a suggestion in the comments as to who would be in your Creative Council. Who inspires you? Who would you like as a virtual mentor contributing to your ideas? Who would have a seat in your Creative Council chambers? I would be fascinated to learn who you would nominate.
pic – Portrait of Ada by British painter Margaret Sarah Carpenter (1836)