Art // The Psychology Behind Curiosity & Creativity

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At Detroit Prep, we talk, teach and learn about Habits of Character daily! Compassion, Cooperation, Integrity, Responsibility, Curiosity and Creativity, and Perseverance are the core concepts we build our days around. As a newer member to the Detroit Prep Crew and an art teacher, one of the biggest joys of coming to DP is seeing Curiosity and Creativity being a priority for the community.

This habit of character, Curiosity and Creativity are the bases for making art. Often art can be a challenge for children and adults alike, especially if you feel that you are not naturally talented at it. It can feel overwhelming and scary to adults because we might feel nervous about what others may think. For students, the fear of not getting it perfect can stop them before they even start. One of the things I’ve heard the most over the years is “But I’m not good at art.”

Since the start of this school year, I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about this and how to cultivate an environment of courageous creativity. Two things said by noted psychological researcher and teacher, Brene’ Brown, have really stuck with me as the bases for courageous creativity:

“If we want to make meaning, we need to make art. As long as we’re creating, we’re cultivating meaning.”

“There is no innovation and creativity without failure.”

So how do we start to help students understand that in order to create, failure matters? In one key way, we’ve already started. We’ve made perseverance part of our Habits of Character and our school culture. It’s something we talk about everyday with students. We give examples. We analyze what it looks like, feels like and sounds like. We give appreciations for students and other members of our crew for exhibiting it. We do the same for Curiosity and Creativity.

As the school year goes on, my goal is to find a way to celebrate our failures in the art room. I want it to be specific--failure from trying is very different then failure from not starting. I want the celebration of failure to lead to more creative outcomes and higher quality work. I want it to encourage students to try things that might be difficult. I want to inspire myself to embrace failure as a lesson well learned and I am so excited to figure it all out.