Creativity and Cognition 2011

Just back from Creativity and Cognition 2011, which was truly ace. I gave the paper I wrote with my co-supervisor, Prof. Ernest Edmonds, which people seemed to like. Saw some thought-provoking presentations and met a number of inspiring and wonderful people. Everything one could wish for in a conference, really.

Guy Claxton gave a truly thoughtful keynote. Creative-Mindedness: When Technology Helps and When It Hinders. He pointed out that formal education as it’s currently instituted systematically destroys the creative habits of mind. In response to a question on how precisely it does this, he referred to his chart of those habits. For example, one creative habit is inquisitiveness, which is damaged by the focus in structured curricula on requiring students to study questions they have not asked. Another is creative stamina & resilience (exemplified by Einstein, who said that it was not so much that he was especially clever, but more that he stayed with problems for longer). This is damaged by the scheduling of classes that require every problem to be solved in an hour.

The papers continued through the next few days – but there were also a  lot of excellent posters. Apparently as there was only a single track for papers, the organisers could not accept some submissions that were actually very good, so those people were encouraged to resubmit as posters. Which meant that the quality of work in the posters was pretty impressive.

Of course, it’s Creativity and Cognition so there was also room for art – my favourite works were Matt Ruby’s Sympathy for Pacman and Jack Stenner & Patrick LeMieux’s Open House: Interaction as Critical Reflection. To top it off, the conference was held at Atlanta’s High Museum of Art, and we were permitted an after-hours tour. As well as some tragically unmoving Calder mobiles (which really don’t belong in temperature controlled rooms), there on a wall was perhaps my favourite artwork of all time: Duchamp’s L.H.O.O.Q. Shaved. Yes, you have to know the story for this one to work properly.

So finally: a few people asked for my slides, so after the break I’ll embed a Quicktime movie of them. Thank you everyone at C&C 2011, and especially the erstwhile organisers for providing such a great atmosphere for collaboration and creativity.

Education systematically destroys the creative habits of mind
E.g. 1: requires students to study questions they have not asked (inquisitiveness)
2. Requires problems to be solved in an hour (einstein’s creative stamina & resilience)

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