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the nurturing mother
by Paul Henrickson © 2004
tm. © 2007
In trying to summarize the concept most often functioning in those many opportunities, which claim to stimulate creativity in business organizations, I finally, and somewhat reluctantly, chose the above phrase. There are many organizations, large and small, which claim to be able to assist business organizations to sustain creative thinking within the group as a device to keep a competitive edge. This concept is misleading and, to some extent, might be considered fraudulent. The reason is that the creative individual is an individual who primarily, functions outside the group. In fact, that is, normally, the only way the group will allow a creative individual to function at all. And even then he functions at the peril of his existence, because the group dynamic is unsympathetic to the creative individual’s thinking process. Consequently, when one sees, for example, advertisements advertising services for business organizations which stress, and this one is lifted from a currently on-line source, such things as: “time sheets”, “schedules”, “task coordinator”, “evaluation”, “calendar”, and “organizer”, we know we are dealing either with a person who either does not know what he is offering or he is a fraud. The above are antipathetic to creative thinking. When one reads, as one can on-line, such offerings as on-line courses which suggest that creative thinking can be taught and what one is offered is a recipe, a step by step route to the goal of creativity, or a creative solution we can be quite sure that this mechanistic approach is merely another version of the age-old, group-dominated mind-set designed to co-ordinate individual activity to conform to the group image. It makes no difference whatever in how many languages these instructions appear or how broadly the approach is advertised, the truly creative mind will elude this attempted capture. Those efforts which concentrate on producing an elevated sense of accomplishment – usually as compared to standard expectations—and to generate energetic interest within the group, such as many brainstorming efforts and week-end seminars in exotic places claim to do, may be effective in the short run, effective, that is, in producing a temporary sense of euphoria in what is normally a very conservative and convergent mind. The creative mind will protect itself from such a crude attempt to entrap it, unless, by some rare chance it really feels itself secure. The creative mind, however, does like to play. It is upon that assumption that The Creative Packet, which is a group of verbal and non-verbal play tasks, is based. Although this set of tasks will identify the creative minds within a particular group it makes no
claims to being able to generalize for larger populations, although, without doubt, the principle obtains. Most businesses, however, are understandably primarily concerned with what occurs within its most immediate environment. This is why The Creativity Packet people offer to business organizations this opportunity to assess the identification and the nature of the creative minds already in their organization and to guide the organization into practices which might help them to maintain an environment friendly to the requirements of the creative thinker. Allow me to expand a little on the basic thesis suggested here, that is, that the creative thinker is a thinker apart from the mass of the population and, therefore, atypical, the attributes often associated with a creative personality do not present the profile of a backslapping, gland-hand Charley, a profile more appropriate for a politician, most especially an American politician. Rather the creative personality is described more like a socially shy person, a loner, a dreamer, a fantasizer who delights in his own flights of imagination and, often, as researcher Drevdahl once described, “like a criminal evading the pursuit of the police.” Now, this type of person may be tragically forced into improving his techniques of deception in order to preserve, as a mother might wish to preserve, her child, that most fragile of antennae delight in existence. In opposition to this most private desire, a desire most singular, is that behavior of the group, any group, which out of fear for its own existence as a group, imposes one of the most repressive techniques of behavioral control, that is exclusion. It is an exclusion that often leads on the part of the creative individual to resentful anti-social behavior, perhaps in the form of retribution, or, in some cases suicide…and the group justifies its behavior by telling itself “well, the guy was a bit unbalanced anyway.” This response on the part of society at large is, as western society is experiencing at this moment, not in its best interests. Along with the declining virility of many of its institutions there is an increase in the knee-jerk responses associated with fear such as an increase in “nationalism”, demarcation of differences among people, satanizing of one’s opposition, and an obsession with materiality that can only be described as outrageous greed…supposedly one of the “deadly” sins. And from the point of view of an experimental psychologist focusing in on the nature of the creative act it is a DEADLY sin, for you have no creativity where there is paralyzing fear, intimidation and an absence of personal courage. Rather, were society to act wisely, it would cherish its creative seers and cultivate their abilities to assemble facts in a different way from the rest of us. Several decades ago there was a thirteen year old who was, apparently, having academic difficulty with mathematics and geometry and in order to keep from being held back from promotion his parents decided to hire a tutor. There were three or four other young children in this tutorial and the attention paid to the needs of the individual was more evident so when the
rudiments of geometry were being reviewed and the group was asked how many times non-parallel straight lines crossed this one fellow failed to respond and the tutor, picking up on his silence, asked him directly to provide an answer. The answer the tutor got was not one he had expected, or even wanted, but it was a true one. When the tutor asked the fellow how many times non-parallel straight lines crossed what the tutor expected was a socially conventional response. This the tutor did not get. The kid said, instead, “they cross twice” and the body of the tutor collapsed in futility until the student noticing the tutors irritation, added “they cross again on the other side of the earth.” Where upon the tutor, recognizing the novelty of the response, but choosing not to reward it, gently reprimanded the fellow for “trying to be funny”. “Funny” has no part in learning…. right?…wrong!
Unfortunately, the tutor’s reaction to this insightful response was not encouraging so the young fellow did not grow up to be an astrophysicist. In my own experience as a teacher teaching in the still very “English” environment of rural western Massachusetts in the United States became perplexed by the academic performance of a fifteen year-old French Canadian boy whose father was the school’s janitor (now a days it is called either “custodian” or “industrial supervisor” or some other sanitized title). This young man, (who happened to be the same age as Conradin von Hohenstaufen when he was the King of Jerusalem and was a candidate for the position of Emperor of The Holy Roman Empire) was viewed by his teachers as being retarded both intellectually and socially and consistently was rewarded for his work in school with grades of “F” and sometimes a reluctant “D”. He was in the ninth grade, had been held back two years in a row and was under threat of being held back a third time when I, with some hesitation, spoke to the school counselor and asked him to test Joe Poirier again for I simply could not believe that a person with an official I.Q. of 90 (which is on the low edge of normal) could perform in the art class as intelligently as Joe was doing. Joe was re-tested and his I.Q. score jumped an unbelievable twenty points to the upper edges of “normal”. Consequently his grade average rose from a “D-“ to a “C+”. Whether that rise was due to his actual improvement or to the teachers’ acceptance of the validity of I.Q. tests I cannot be certain. But Joe was happier…legitimately happier. This, as I understand it, is the aim of education, to draw out the capabilities and interests of an individual rather than to impose the more limited insights of the group upon the unique expressions of the individual in the vain hope of thereby controlling social events and restricting community growth. Better to shape the perceptions of our shamans into the paths of righteousness than to frustrate these energies and encourage their being bent into the devices of resistance to procrustean control. In short, cooperate with genius.
The on-line home page for The Creativity Packet is located at www.tcp.com.mt and it will be the sections identified as “business”, “education”, and “production” to which you should go for additional information. Regards, Paul Henrickson, Ph.D. Xaghra, Gozo, Malta
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