Natural Creativity in Practice
At Natural Creativity, we work continuously to build a culture that supports the development of Creativity, Compassion, and Collaboration (our 3 Cs), one that embraces diversity and balance in myriad ways and that invites individuals to feel celebrated for who they are and who they would like to be in purposeful pursuit of their goals.
We can point to a seemingly infinite array of relationships, organizations, and situations that we believe would be vastly improved if they learned to do more of this. However, the systems in which most individuals and organizations exist do not cultivate creativity, compassion, or collaboration; in fact, these traits are often seen as problematic!
We contend that the broad, cultural beliefs about children and learning, in general, and how these beliefs are operationalized in schools and related experiences, in particular, contribute in a major way to the problems alluded to above. Children are taught that their value is based on test scores in relation to a group of peers. They are taught that mistakes are failures, and that there is one right way to solve a problem. Children learn to devalue any idea that deviates from the norm, to discredit alternate paths to a possible solution, and to avoid risk. They learn to see peers as competitors vying for limited resources (such as grades, teacher’s attention and praise, or recess time). Our space, and the approach we use within and around it, serves as a sanctuary from and refutation of the dominant beliefs and mechanisms.
We use the term “partnership education” for several reasons, not the least of which is in response to what we call the Dominator Culture, which has been described partly above. Dominators are oppressors and suppressors. They seek to control people and resources, and they view interactions as conquests. Dominators also work to maintain status above others, which can take the form of insults or physical confrontation, as well as requiring another person to perform (which happens almost every time an adult demands an answer from a child). We are actively working to disrupt this relationship, and do so through shifting from Dominator-Dominated to Partner-Partner relationships especially but not exclusively in our time spent with young people.
Learn more about Dominator vs. Partnership culture: http://centerforpartnership.org/shifting-from-domination-to-partnership/
Human beings are born problem solvers. We conduct experiments, get feedback, and revise our plan as needed thousands of times before we reach school-age. We figure out how to grasp things with our fingers, how to reach ever further objects, how to turn random sounds into language, and how to walk. All of this happens naturally and (unless specifically interfered with) inevitably, and is evident in almost every young person you have seen or can imagine. However, we have created systems that discourage and/or suppress this ability so that by the time we are adults, most of us experience great difficulty in working alone or together to overcome the challenges we face.
The Creative Process, designed by Synectics and in practice for decades, is a research-based method for mitigating or removing the obstacles that interfere with human collaboration and creativity. This method engages users in practices that increase the likelihood of successfully developing and implementing solutions to problems by increasing the effectiveness of interpersonal communication, activating the innate human drive to solve problems, and incubating ideas into possible solutions.
At NC, we practice this process with our young people as they pursue their interests, we facilitate the development of the skills necessary to be successful using this process so our youths can continue their work after they leave NC, and we work with parents to use this process in their own personal and professional lives.
All human beings have basic needs that are universal, and these needs can be loosely grouped into five main categories:
- Safety/Security – food, water, shelter, physical wellbeing (this is the foundation; all other needs are ignored until this is met to some degree of satisfaction)
- Autonomy – making one’s own decisions
- Belonging – being accepted by a group larger than oneself
- Competence – feeling capable of accomplishing goals
- Fun – enjoyment and pleasure
Individual expressions or understandings of these needs may vary, but the categories are generally very helpful for communicating with others.
Feelings (such as happiness or sadness) are the body’s way of telling us whether or not our needs are being met. Behaviors are the strategies we use to meet our needs. For example, if I am on my way to a party, I may be feeling anxious because I am worried I won’t have anyone to talk to, and when I arrive, I decide to join a group talking about a book I’ve read because it seems more manageable than coming up with my own small talk.
Conflicts often emerge when one person’s strategy interferes with another person’s needs being met. In the above example, I may upset someone in the group if my strategy of joining in interferes with his strategy for meeting his fun need (if, say, he was talking about the book in reference to a larger conversation about humor, and my contribution moved the conversation in another, unenjoyable direction).
At NC, we facilitate the development of skills for understanding and expressing needs and feelings, both within ourselves and in others, and creatively exploring strategies that can work for both sides.