Yesterday I was fortunate to have been a moderator and participant in a panel on creative scholarship at AUC, as part of our undergraduate student conference, EURECA.
The panel had several of AUC’s most creative teachers on it, and our visiting professor, Ana Salter (so happy she made it to Cairo and that I got the chance to get to know her in person).
The panel had very limited time, but we did really well in that timeframe, although we couldn’t ave a “creative” panel (as Ana and I talked about later).
We started with challenging the notion that creativity can be taught, and discussed what kind of skill and attitude we needed to nurture to help students become creative. We discussed how the creative process might be more important than the creative product; we discussed the importance of risk-taking and accepting even encouraging failure. Ana mentioned the importance of not only making and remixing but also of breaking, and I talked about the “hack” culture I encourage in my teaching. We talked (and with the audience) about the importance of openness and creating space for dissent, for challenging authority, and yet also how restrictions pushed people to be innovative. We talked about disciplinary differences, where it is was riskier to accept a failed product in Chemistry and Architecture than in the humanities and social sciences… And we talked about how the restrictions of course time/space meant we could not guarantee our students enough time to fail and try again – and how my personal way of dealing with this is to have students reflect in the end on “what i would have done differently if i had enough time” (as we do in our PhD’s!).
We talked about the difficult question of assessment, which we had coincidentally discussed last week at a CLT workshop. Some of us felt creativity was too subjective to be assessed in a “rubric”, others felt we could assess originality by asking students to clarify how original their work is; some of us felt utility was not essential to something being considered creative, others thought it was.
I also want to add something I started talking about. And it’s that as dissenters, as academics trying innovative scholarship, it is difficult for traditional academics to accept or welcome our work, and even teaching students to be creative could get them into trouble in more traditional courses. I want to empower my students to be creative, develop that confidence, have that attitude… But they need to be aware of the consequences. I look forward to submitting to Hybrid Pedagogy’s CfP about my struggles at having my non-mainstream scholarship accepted – many long stories there! My good friends Chris, Sean and Jesse write in the CfP:
The creative field of digital scholarship is not offered an equally creative reception. It is as if the dust upset by digital ingenuity must settle upon the same dry, fossilized bones that have always stood in the archive.
I’m not entirely sure this discussion is over… But the panel was a great start and I look forward to having many more.
Thank you to Amani for inviting me to moderate and participate in this panel (and for inviting me to be a participant not just a moderator, so i could speak) and to the awesome panel of academics I have long respected and admired: Pandeli, Adham, Magda, and of course, Ana 🙂
This panel was followed by a workshop on educational game design by Ana which inspired my colleagues to create a faculty development game! Which we hope to work on today (awesome thinking Sherif and Nadine!) and I’ll report on this soon!