Tag Archives: creativity

Writing from Colville

If you’re not familiar with the work of contemporary Canadian artist Alex Colville, take a minute to search for his work on Google’s image search.  Colville died on July 16 but his 70-year career leaves us with lots to look at.

For more on his life and art, I’d recommend this article from the Toronto Star, but searching Wikipedia and other sources will provide more background if you’d like it.  The focus of this post will be on how Colville’s work can be incorporated into the ESL classroom.

Paintings by Alex Colville, like Truck Stop above, are typically spare in both the painting style and the story being told.  There is usually a bit of mystery — Why does the man have a cast on his arm?  Whose dog is that? — that remains unresolved, which is why so many of his paintings are so compelling.

These paintings make excellent jumping off points for storytelling.  Students can search for Alex Colville to see a number of his paintings (be warned that there is occasional nudity, but nothing too graphic) or provide access to an online gallery of images of his work to students.  From there, students can write or tell stories that answer some of the paintings’ inherent questions.  As a creative exercise, Alex Colville’s paintings provide plenty of inspiration.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Resources

Pop Psychology for Teachers

balloon poppingRed Pop Three” by Brent Schneeman used under CC BY-NC 2.0

I originally intended this post to be about an article I came across on creativity, but as I looked around What Makes Them Click.net, I found that the whole site deserves a mention.

Susan Weinschenk, who writes this blog, draws on her 30+ years of experience applying her PhD in Psychology to the workplace.  She identifies interesting research articles and then summarizes them in a way that makes them very easy to apply to the workplace, including the classroom.  Some examples are below.

knitted duck on a streetAfloat on Grey Street” by Nicola Stock used under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

4 Types of Creativity

Evidently, there are four types of creativity, each a combination of cognitive / emotional and deliberate / spontaneous.  Thomas Edison, who is said to have gone through thousands of failed experiments before inventing something, is classified as cognitive and deliberate.  In contrast, artists and musicians tend to be spontaneous and emotional in their creativity.  Each type has different requirements in order to be successful.    For example, the Thomas Edisons need lots of knowledge and time whereas require skill to create based on a spontaneous impulse.  So, there may not be a one-size-fits-all way to facilitate creativity in the classroom.

jack in the box toyGood Lord” by Kevin O’Mara used under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Surprises

Your brain craves surprises.  This is, ironically, not a surprise to any good language teacher who fills lesson plans with a variety of activities to hold students’ interest.  This summary is based on a study which demonstrated that people find surprises more pleasurable than things they like.  How do they know?  The squirted fruit juice in people’s mouths.  Seriously.

blue screen of death -- Windows computer errorBSOD 0x07B” by Justin used under CC BY 2.0

Error Strategies

This study looked at what strategies older and younger adults used when encountering an error when trying to use a new electronic device.  Some interesting differences: the older group didn’t receive meaningful hints from their actions or use their past knowledge as much as the younger group did.  These results may be particularly useful for teachers who integrate technology into their classrooms.  Common sense would have us believe that older adults would have different difficulties navigating a content management system for the first time.  Perhaps this study can help teachers to better anticipate these problems.

There are lots of other interesting studies summarized on this site.  Take a look around and if you find others that are particularly applicable to ESL teachers, leave a link in the comments.

Leave a comment

Filed under Research