Brainstorming and Creativity: They Are All Deep Down Inside of Us
By: Annie Marie Jablonski
It is not difficult to see that there are some people in the world that just have a knack for the arts and more creative processes. These are the people that are able to create a piece of artwork on a whim or be able to effortlessly pick up how to play a new tune on an instrument. Unfortunately, I have never been one of those people. Any art class that I have taken prior to college has been nothing short of a disaster and while I can dance quite well, my one-year of playing the flute in elementary school was the beginning and end of my music career. Since I never really quite got the arts during my early education, I tended to drift more towards the sciences. I found my niche in biology and psychology courses where I would just regurgitate the information I learned in lecture. I found comfort in learning scientific definitions, rather than learning how to read music.
However, I could not spend my four years of my undergraduate studies shying away from arts classes. When I originally started looking at colleges, going to a liberal arts school was not something that particularly mattered to me. The school I ended up at, though, puts a large emphasis on refining students’ perspectives on the world. Included in our university requirements are a “creative expressions” course, a “visual literacy” course, and even a “global experience course.” These requirements, in addition to others, create a curriculum that forces students out of the comfort zone of their majors. I may be studying biology and psychology, but that does not mean that I do not find myself in humanities courses. The one requirement that I have been putting off taking for the last three years, however, has been a creative expression course. This can be fulfilled from courses like basic painting or photography, however I knew that whatever I chose to take, I would have to tap into a part of myself that I do not have much confidence in.
This confidence dwindled further when I recently took the Big 5 Personality Assessment for my personality psychology course. While any psychologist will speak vehemently, and negatively, of self-report personality assessments, it can be challenging to completely ignore the results one may get after taking one of these assessments. The Big 5 traits are Conscientiousness, Agreeableness, Extraversion, Neuroticism, and Openness. Each of these traits has sub-facets to complete the description of an individual’s personality. While most of my results were spot-on, my score for openness (trait) was a mere two and I got a whopping zero on imagination (sub-facet). Now, while I do not spend a majority of my time daydreaming up scenarios in my head, I do believe I have the ability to imagine, to create, and to brainstorm.
When I initially registered for the course for which this blog was created, I was signing up for a course that had the “creative expression” requirement that my liberal arts university requires. To be honest, I was thrilled that I would be able to fulfill the requirement without taking a traditional arts course. However, a few weeks in, our group spent an entire class period on brainstorming. With the results of my Big 5 Assessment fresh in my mind, I immediately panicked and put up a front to the entire process. How was I supposed to brainstorm and be creative if I scored zero on imagination? I would be lying if I said that I did not spend a majority of that class period struggling to tap into the side of me that scored the zero on imagination. This side of me is the person who writes strictly formatted research papers, the person who designs research studies, and the person who learns the form and function of all body parts. I have not been in a course that has truly forced me to be creative in years. However, in a course that I took while I was abroad titled “The London Novel,” a fellow classmate stated how science students are not creative. While it hurt to hear a student actually voice the things I have been thinking for years, the comment consistently agreed with my opinions on the arts.
This student’s comment, and my personal opinions and beliefs, are the exact reason why liberal arts colleges and universities are so important (Ray, 2013). They are the reasons why the funding of the arts in schools is becoming more and more of a prominent issue (American for the Arts, n.d.). No student should ever feel discouraged at the idea of a brainstorming activity because he/she has been trained how to take standardized tests, rather than learning how to formulate creative ideas. Universities that require students to take a variety of classes across many different subject areas are crucial in producing a generation of well-rounded individuals that can easily adapt to the ever-changing job market. In a recent survey, it was found that 93% of employers stated that college graduate’s “demonstrated capacity to think critically, communicate clearly, and solve complex problems is more important than a candidate’s undergraduate major,” (Ray, 2013). The skills one develops at a liberal arts school are often valued just as much, or even more so, than the knowledge gained from basic academic courses. While I will never be an artist’s protégée and I do not plan on picking up how to play an instrument any time soon, I have other ways and opportunities to tap into my creative and imaginative side. It may have been uncomfortable at first, but when I sit down to do it, I can actually brainstorm quite well. I also enjoy problem solving and figuring out the correct way to do something.
While this post may just seem like another psychologist ranting about the inaccuracies in personality self-report measures, I would rather the take away be that creativity can be expressed in numerous different ways. Brainstorming and problem solving in this class are just two of the ways in which my liberal arts school has forced me out of my standard routine and prompted me to develop skills that are much more important in today’s society. I may have scored a zero on imagination on my Big 5 Personality Assessment, but I think my imagination is just expressed in a different way. We all have imagination and creativity hidden deep down inside of us… there are just some people who have easier access to these traits and some people that have to dig down to express them.
American for the Arts. (n.d.). Why the Arts Matter | Americans for the Arts Action Fund. Retrieved from http://www.artsactionfund.org/pages/why
Ray, E. J. (2013, July 24). The Value of a Liberal Arts Education in Today’s Global Marketplace. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/edward-j-ray/the-value-of-a-liberal-arts-education_b_3647765.html