Nurturing CreativityA recent Advertising Age newsletter arrived in my inbox with a link to an article about the "Creativity 50" list published annually by Creativity magazine. The article included brief quotes from a half dozen of the honorees.
One of these quotes particularly caught my eye. It comes from David Roman, president-worldwide marketing communication of Hewlett-Packard's personal systems group. In talking about how to build a creative culture, Roman says:
It's about providing a learning culture, which includes a tolerance for mistakes. If you're going to push the limits, not everything is going to be perfect. You also have to have experienced talent who understand what doesn't work and who will change it quickly and who can immediately recognize and accelerate what does work.The reason this comment caught my attention is that it reminded me of a situation I found myself in some years ago. A student in one of my economics classes needed help with a paper. I steered her away from an approach she was considering that I was confident would not be fruitful, but, at the same time, I worried that maybe I was being too directive. The student was an especially talented person she has since gone on to win a major national prize for her writing and I was concerned that I might be stifling her thinking.
In the years since, I've continued to be conscious of the need to beware of imposing my own perspective on a student; I try to walk the fine line between helping students use their time productively and allowing them to follow a path to learning that fits their own interests and aspirations. It's encouraging to come upon occasional reinforcement of the view that restraining some impulses a student has is helpful, as opposed to overbearing.