Next week I start teaching a new edition of the online Creativity + Science course for science PhD students. Once again, we had an extremely positive response from students doubling our enrollment from last year with more than 65 enrolled students. Of course I’m pleased for students’ interest, but to me this also indicates the increasing role that creativity is playing in society. With all the changes that are happening in the world, people need new ways of seeing their environment and a broader toolkit to solve everyday problems. They have been tackling unexpected situations and addressing familiar ones in unfamiliar ways, generating a growing need to be imaginative. In the creativity course, we give students tools and strategies to be better prepared for the future, and specifically to approach science from unseen angles.
In preparation for my classes, each semester I look into a wide range of different sources for ideas, exercises, and inspiration. This time I have been working with children’s books. Specifically, I found the series “a kids book about…” really inspirational and didactic. The books about Creativity (by Sara and Stewart Scott-Curran) and Imagination (by Levar Burton) are bold, direct, and playful! Through simple illustrations and bright colors the authors define key concepts and show readers what creativity is, how to ignite their imagination, and why these are important to keep practicing. They also suggest a collaborative approach: each book opens with the phrase “Better together.” (it is directed for grown-ups and kids reading together, but I like the overall collaborative message).
My favorite spread is in the Imagination book and it sums up beautiful the power of creativity and imagination:
“Imagination is a tool for change.”
“Imagination is the machine we use to invent.”
“Imagination is our creative self in action.”
“We can imagine ourselves in the past, present, and future, and no other species on earth can do that.”
This is the premise on which the Creativity + Science course is built. Each class students work on their own journeys to relearn how to make the most of their imagination, and change, (re)invent, and activate science (and their lives) in novel and unique ways.
Like these, many other children’s books can be an easy way to start reconnecting with our creative selves. Breaking the assumption that children’s books are only for children is an important first step!