Ray Bradbury says, “Make a list!”

I love this idea of making a list to spark your creativity. I also love making lists, but who doesn’t. And Ray Bradbury was a genius. Even his lists convey a sense of melancholy creepiness:

THE LAKE. THE NIGHT. THE CRICKETS. THE RAVINE. THE ATTIC. THE BASEMENT. THE TRAPDOOR. THE BABY. THE CROWD. THE NIGHT TRAIN. THE FOG HORN. THE SCYTHE. THE CARNIVAL. THE CAROUSEL. THE DWARF. THE MIRROR MAZE. THE SKELETON.

Read: Ray Bradbury on How List-Making Can Boost Your Creativity | Brain Pickings.

Schools… Not Factories

I listened to Sugata Mitra’s TED talk on self-organized learning, and it was extremely inspiring for anyone interested in learning or the education of children. Sugata Mitra won the TED Prize for 2013 to help seed his ambitious project to create a “school in the cloud.” Here was the a-ha point for me in his talk:

But first, a bit of history: to keep the world’s military-industrial machine running at the zenith of the British Empire, Victorians assembled an education system to mass-produce workers with identical skills. Plucked from the classroom and plugged instantly into the system, citizens were churned through an educational factory engineered for maximum productivity.

In other words, the Victorians assembled a global human computer to run the world, and they created the school system to produce more human parts for the computer. But we don’t live in that age anymore. We have real computers now. So why hasn’t our educational system changed?

Here’s another great point:

Schools still operate as if all knowledge is contained in books, and as if the salient points in books must be stored in each human brain — to be used when needed. The political and financial powers controlling schools decide what these salient points are. Schools ensure their storage and retrieval. Students are rewarded for memorization, not imagination or resourcefulness.

I constantly hear a refrain of “innovation” and “creativity” as what we need for the 21st-century world. Yet our school system is designed to stifle innovation and creativity. Today, we need schools not structured like factories, but like clouds.

Read more and watch the TED Talk: Sugata Mitra: We Need Schools… Not Factories.

How to be more productive…

From the New York Times: Relax! You’ll Be More Productive. We work best in 90-minute intervals, just three per day, with rest breaks in between. By “work,” I mean creative or highly focused work. For example, alternating mental work with physical breaks might be a good strategy.

The author gives a potent example. He wrote his first books the “old-fashioned way,” by sitting at the computer for 10 hours at a time; each book took a year to write. Then, he tried writing a book by working just 4-1/2 hours per day, in 90-minute intervals; it only took him 6 months to write the book. The point is that working less and producing high-quality work trumps working more and producing crap.

Creating in the New Year…

At the turn of every year, I set goals or resolutions for the coming year, like many people. And like many people, I seldom achieve many of my goals. I tend to start out the year with purpose and resolve, but gradually, life gets in the way.

That’s why this article struck a chord with me: Moving Quickly, Caring Deeply: Creating Nine Lives in the New Year | The Creativity Post. Not only does it acknowledge the difficulty of achieving these resolutions we set for ourselves — particularly when they are aimed at giving us time to explore our own creativity, something many of us want to do but seldom find the time to actually do — but it reinforces how important it is to keep making these resolutions, even if we never quite meet our goals. The article ends with suggestions for how we can move closer to being those creative, creating people we aim to be.

Happy new year!

Write what you don’t know…

Writers are often told that they should “write what they know,” but perhaps that leads to boring, safe writing. A better piece of advice might be to write what you don’t know you know. By delving into your unconscious knowledge of yourself and the world, your writing may not only be more interesting, but also more therapeutic. Via: Should You Write What You Know? | The Creativity Post.