From the Archives: Fostering Creativity


Fashion students have very intense schedules.  In addition to learning technical skills, they are constantly being challenged to be more creative.  Long hours, multiple projects, and inadequate rest creeps up on them mid-term.  Around this time I notice a decrease in their creativity.

The subject of creativity is something that fascinates me.  For many years, I considered my own good ideas to arrive like an elusive strike of lightening.  Yet the human brain is so much more complex than that.  Creativity does not occur in a single, brilliant flash but in a chain reaction of many tiny sparks while executing an idea.

Taking breaks from major projects is essential to finishing them successfully.  Why? When the mind becomes too entrenched in a particular topic, if fails to identify similarities in seemingly unrelated disciplines.  When I notice my students are burning out, I like to switch things up in the classroom.  By changing gears and allowing them to distance themselves from their own ideas, they develop a new perspective on their own projects.  Here are some ways to stimulate their creativity:

Partner activities: Working with a partner allows the students to hear different perspectives.  There are different methods for accomplishing the same goal.  Working with a partner encourages discussion and comparison of different methodologies.

Field trips: A change of environment is always inspiring.  Strategic field trips also allow abstract classroom discussions to be translated into real world experience.  For example, I am teaching a textile class this term.  Our field trip is going to the Textile Arts Center, where we will learn to weave on a loom and then dye the textiles.


Interdisciplinary ideas: Introducing topics from other disciplines is one of my favorite ways to delve into an activity.  I often give a brief synopsis of neurological conditions, likesynesthesia, or linguistic theories, like semantics, and work them into an activity. When the focus appears to be on a different topic, creativity levels tend to go back up.

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