This video, Changing Academic Paradigms, culminates many perceived problems within the education system in the United States, and is a call to action to collectively make changes to these outdated, stagnant methods of teaching and replace them with something more tailored to our intricate differences and similarities as human beings. Ken Robinson’s presentation on TEDTalks calls attention to the ADHD ‘epidemic,’ or over diagnosis, and the deeply-rooted problems within our schooling system—a system based in the Industrial Revolution which has undergone only minimal changes since then. Robinson highlights the immeasurable developments that have occurred in society over time, and questions how passing through a system set in a different time and place can be meant to prepare students for our modern world.
Ken Robinson’s presentation calls for revolutionary changes in our education system, and these changes need to be foundational, and creative. Robinson sees the future of education to be in collaboration, not atomization. A fluidity in understanding between subjects and across curriculum needs to be fostered, teaching instead how interconnected the world is rather than separating people, subjects, and interactive learning into quantifiable, measurable numbers. The diversity of all of our minds and backgrounds must be displayed proudly rather than trying to staunch any difference or deviance from this outdated ‘norm.’ This video teaches me something new with every watch, but the best part about it was that it was shown to me by the president of Clark University, David Angel. At the beginning of this semester I went to President Angel’s office hours to talk to him about REVERB, and he not only embraced the idea, but immediately began giving me examples, ideas, and new trajectories for my team and I to consider integrating into our growing understanding of REVERB and all that this event could be for the Clark community.
When the idea of REVERB was new last semester and we began working on making it a reality, we spent a lot of time talking about how we didn’t want this event to feel as if it was just a pale comparison of any of the any of the other various events which celebrate creative expression here at Clark. We wanted every element of creativity to be exhibited in some way or another—whether through reading poetry or thoughts, singing a song, displaying paintings or presenting a project which your favorite class led you to research. From academic to personal, habitual to inexperienced, we hoped that this event would draw creativity of all kinds. We didn’t want this to just be a celebration of the creative climate at Clark, we hoped this event would make a difference in the perceptions and thoughts of the participants, the attendees, and ourselves about what it truly means to creatively collaborate with no other end in mind other than creating positive REVERBerations, now and in the future. This was our ideal, and in more ways than we could have imagined at the time, Clark has more than provided us with that ideal in applicants and response to REVERB, which the climate, people, and ideas here at Clark have created.
For the creativity exhibited at REVERB to have reverberating affects that last long after April 5th, we knew that we had to make it clear to all potential applicants and attendees that if you found the idea of a shared day centered around creativity, then we were interested in talking to you. From what we learned last semester, we knew that true creativity blossoms in interactive, open environments with people of similar interests or new awareness’s of potential creativity on our horizons. Just as Ken Robinson spoke of in Changing Academic Paradigms, creativity and collaboration are the routes to take for change in positive and uncharted directions in our own learning environment here at Clark.
Last semester I enrolled in a capstone seminar Creativity, Collaboration and Human Development. A capstone class is meant to put to the test everything you have learned in your particular major, and showcase that you are ready to go out into your field as a professional representative of your chosen path. This capstone would have been my final class in my psychology major, and in this class I learned much about creativity that has changed my own thinking about psychology, my plans for the future, and creative expression in general. Creativity is about autonomy, but moderately so. If you are autonomous to the point where you cannot relate to society and society cannot relate to you, then your creativity will not make any difference to the status quo. However, if your creative thoughts or behaviors are just the right amount off-kilter from the norm, thought-provoking in their originality, but also commandeering in their common use and benefits to the general good—that is where true creativity lies. Creativity is about shifting perspectives, providing solutions and insights where none before existed. On a sociological level, creativity is about deviance from the norm, and to pull a lame Clarkie reference, challenging convention. As overused as that phrase may be, in it lays so much truth and importance that embodies Clark University in its entirety.
Whenever I talk to other psychology majors at other colleges about their curriculum, how much room they are left for growth, and how they are taught, I am truly amazed at how well Clark platforms their classrooms around the idea of challenging convention—and at how successful professors and administration are in helping Clark students do so. Because of the amazing opportunities I have been provided with here at Clark, the support that professors give us fledgling psychologists or students of any major, there is not a decision in my life that I am happier with than choosing to attend Clark University. Upon first visiting, I could feel the difference in the students and atmosphere here when compared to my high school, or even the myriad of other universities I visited; it felt like I was breathing the air of ideas. Upon coming to this university, this conjecture has only been proven time and time again.
In my capstone class last semester on Creativity, we were given an assignment of creating a wiki page about creativity to launch on the Clark website, a platform for students to learn and think about creativity in ways they normally do not. This was to be our semester long assignment which my professor, Seana Moran, had put a lot of thought and planning into. However, after learning about creativity for a month in this class, my teammates and I saw a flaw in this semester long project, as we did not think this project was deviant, challenging, or a holistic embodiment of the true creativity which we had been discussing and learning about all semester. In our dialogues during class these reservations began to show, and soon the four of us were bouncing ideas back and forth about better ways to change the way students view creativity, and our professor sat in quiet support of the new direction we were heading. In another school, a professor may have chastised us for our wanting to change the major assignment which she had created for us, but instead of trying to hold us back, she only supported the changes we wanted to make to the curriculum.
From our small deviance came REVERB, an event that is to take place on April 5th, which we have all put our minds and souls into creating, fostering, and developing. What was initially a semester long capstone seminar which would complete all of our majors in Psychology soon became a year-long class, a brand new privately instructed research project was created which has become my favorite three hours of every week this semester. Instead of creating a dormant website about creativity, we instead bore an event that we hope will become an annual event at Clark, which would not only teach students about creativity, but also have reverberating affects long after the event. REVERB is a celebration of creativity and collaboration amongst the Clark community by showcasing the creative endeavors of Clark students, alumni, faculty, staff, and administrators. Creativity can be showcased as: products (apps or software, pottery, games, puppets, candles, art, scrapbooks, recipes, maps, cards, film/video, poetry, word images, fashions, etc.), services (henna tattooing, hairdressing, troubleshooting technology, unusual uses of GPS, pet training, etc.), performances (music, magic, demonstrations, free-styling, rituals, drama, spoken word, spoken science, storytelling, sports, improv, etc.), activities or lessons (hip-hop dancing, science experiments, treasure hunts, event-planning, gardening, start your own business, etc), and so much more. We put this call out for applications a month ago, and to date we have received just under 50 applicants from creators who want to be a part of REVERB—students, faculty and staff who, like us, see the importance of creativity and collaboration for growth and development. For a first-time event, this response was staggering to us and only makes us more excited about what other surprises REVERB holds in stock for us in the future.