The Mac Lab

By the Numbers

by on Jul.08, 2009, under Blog

55_chevy_smIn the beginning
Back in nineteen fifty-five
— AC/DC • Let There Be Rock

As yet another ’55 undergoing restoration (Stockwell), I’ve gotta tell you how good it feels to take steps in the right direction. In the past week I’ve seen a new doc (a genuinely good guy), began physical therapy (for blown-out back due to 5 months of this), had vision checked and ordered new glasses and frames (reading and distance), added a pool (cheaper and more fun than air conditioning) and a chair ($249 in the store and surprisingly comfortable when writing/recording) to our summer home (which is also our winter, spring, and fall home), and am set to expand the video foundation for next year. On a completely different restoration frontier, I ran into this (she’s quoting something I wrote 14 years ago) while composing this reply earlier this morning. An interesting coincidence. Good to invigorate the perceptual muscles as well! Now, back to the subject at hand…

The 5 Stages of the Creative Process

Fifty-five has the interesting property that it is the 10th Fibonacci number and the sum of the numbers 1 to 10. (via) You may or may not remember this connection but I was happy to get high-fived by this book a few hours ago when reminded of the 5 stages of the creative process. Even though I subscribe to the Gestalt model of thought, I feel it’s helpful to break the process down so our linear-thinking Western minds are able to comprehend in familiar terms. The process (in a very simplified form):

01: First Insight Seek and/or discover problems that need solving. (This will be in the form of projects, assigned or self-directed. One of us will be defining a problem in need of a solution.)

“The formulation of a problem,” said Albert Einstein, “is often more essential than its solution, which may be merely a matter of mathematical or experimental skill. To raise new questions, new possibilities, to regard old questions from a new angle, requires creative imagination and marks real advances in science.”
— A. Einstein and I. Infeld / The Evolution of Physics

02: Saturation Gather, sort, and categorize information. (I’ve gotten the ball rolling with Inspiration. Do NOT underestimate the value of looking at the same imagery dozens of times! That’s what the right brain needs to shift into its pattern recognition, intuitive, problem-solving mode. See last paragraph here as well.)

The unconscious, though one cannot force it, will not produce new ideas unless it has been painstakingly stuffed full of facts, impressions, concepts, and an endless series of conscious ruminations and attempted solutions. On this we have the testimony of many creative people.
— Morton Hunt / The Universe Within

03: Incubation Searching for a solution. Trial and error. Brainstorming. (Here’s where imagination and intuition play their part IF you’ve stuck with the process.)

It [the right hemisphere] needs exposure to rich and associative patterns, which it tends to grasp as wholes. Programmed instruction is certainly not for the right hemisphere, but I am not sure what is the right method of instruction for our silent half. It is part of the elusiveness of the right hemisphere that we find it easier to say what it is not than what it is.
— Eran Zaidel / The Elusive Right Hemisphere of the Brain

04: Ah-Ha! The solution suddenly appears. (This is the mysterious moment of clarity, the instantaneous moment of knowing, the magic moment of the creative process. Few students are diligent enough to experience this. Will you be different? Or will you be yet another flatliner?)

I can remember the very spot in the road, whilst in my carriage, when to my joy the solution occurred to me.
— The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin

05: Verification Acting on the Ah-Ha moment. Testing your insight. (This is not only following through on your idea, but taking it that final 10% after you think you’re finished, boldly going where few students have gone before.

A man should learn to detect and watch that gleam of light which flashes across his mind from within, more than the lustre and the firmament of bards and sages. Yet he dismisses without notice his thought, because it is his. In every work of genius we recognize our own rejected thoughts; they come back to us with a certain alienated majesty. Great works of art have no more affecting lesson for us than this. They teach us to abide by our spontaneous impression with good-humored inflexibility than most when the whole cry of voices is on the other side. Else tomorrow a stranger will say with masterly good sense precisely what we have thought and felt all the time, and we shall be forced to take with shame our own opinion from another.
— Ralph Waldo Emerson / Self-Reliance

I’ll be expanding upon these 5 stages of creativity for the next few days. They’ll be playing a starring role in the Mac Lab this fall. Those who embrace and stick with the process are virtually guaranteed to experience their own magic moments. Just promise not to celebrate like Archemides did! (We have a dress code.)

0709 Visitor Update: Nepal makes 107 countries and Wyoming makes 49 states (c’mon North Dakota). Interesting side note: Since school let out we’ve had 950 unique visitors from 60 countries and 42 states. (And I thought I’d be talking to myself all summer.)

0709: D’oh! Video sitting right there that I forgot about when I posted yesterday: The Process Before an Idea. Jr.canest is one talented film/graphics student. I’ve added a number of his videos to various Mac Lab Channels. He’s got a gift and he’s not afraid to use it. I’m a fan! Speaking of FANtastic — I can’t believe I’m going to say this — I absolutely love the potential Twitter offers. It fits right between GCL and the Blog. It’s the perfect addition to our Web 2.0 IDS (Information Delivery System). And with the widget (in right sidebar) you don’t even have to leave the Blog to follow the updates. Perfect!

0710: “Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.” Source. Forget about platforms, watch the video, and make a difference. Make today something different by doing something different. Stop and Think, and then act. (Thanks, Jr.)

0712: Am taking off for a week-long conference in Hollywood. Info to follow. Check the Twitter widget at right for other updates.

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13 Comments for this entry

  • skocko

    Go back and read Emerson’s words again.

    Do you understand?

    Oh, and if you liked that, go to the library and check out Betty Edwards’ book. Or, if you have the money, buy yourself a copy.

  • Chris J.

    Skocko, I’m with you on the Gestalt theory. But especially nowadays, a lot of kids can’t do much without step-by-step directions. It’s not their fault, so much, as it is the public school system’s in general. Irregardless, these steps will definitely help some students. Kudos.

  • skocko

    Here’s two mind benders, Chris…

    1. My teaching philosophy is based on an holistic approach, Gestalt learning, if you will, yet I am required to submit incremental assessments (grades).

    2. Our language is a set of perceptual handcuffs (who will get this?)

    Only for the bold…

    Words bend our thinking to infinite paths of self-delusion, and the fact that we spend most of our mental lives in brain mansions built of words means that we lack the objectivity necessary to see the terrible distortions of reality which language brings.
    — Dan Simmons

    Semanticists like Alfred Korzybski and Benjamin Whorf warned that Indo-European languages trap us in a fragmented model of life. They disregard relationship. By their subject-predicate structure, they mold our thought, forcing us to think of everything in terms of cause and effect. For this reason it is hard for us to talk about — or even think about — quantum physics, a fourth dimension, or any other notion without clear-cut beginnings and endings, up and down, then and now…

    Korzybski warned that we will not grasp the nature of reality until we realize the limitation of words. Language forms our thought, thereby setting up barriers. The map is not the territory.
    — Marilyn Ferguson

    Bonus round for the bold (and the reason I have hope)…

    Every symbol has a hidden premise behind it. Every word carries unspoken assumptions buried in the history of the language and the conditioning experiences of the speakers. If you snatch those buried meanings out of your words, you spill a whole stream of new understanding into your awareness.
    — Frank Herbert

    Just as an explorer penetrates into new and unknown lands, one makes discoveries in the everyday life, and the erstwhile mute surroundings begin to speak a language which becomes increasingly clear.
    — Wassily Kandinsk

  • Michael Werner

    Let’s see you pin “irregardless” on the public school system.

  • skocko

    Now, now, boys. Let’s play nice.

    To be honest, I just searched to see if I’ve used irregardless on the blog. It’s not a word that I would have avoided before you pushed it in front of me, like a plate of steaming, stinky brussel sprouts. (But if it’s an adverb, how come it’s not irregardlessly?)

    While it’s true confessions time, I also use plenty of nonstandard English (sometimes intentionally) on the blog. Nobody’s perfect.

    Now back to our irregularly scheduled program. Read today’s entry and consider the challenge. It’s Ca-razy, mon! 😉

  • Chris J.

    Haha. Actually, I only used irregardless because I wanted to see whose feathers it’d ruffle. I can’t stand that word, or how much it is used in place of “regardless.”

    Of course, now that irregardless has become so widespread (it’s not a word!), it in fact is now a word. I still refuse to accept that fact. (This is similar to how there is no San Diego County Fair. It was, is, and always will be, the Del Mar Fair.)

  • hayes

    I have been looking for some Think Different posters for ages. They cost a small fortune.

    I started trying to get the students into the design process more last year. It is not easy. I can’t blame them, I probably wouldn’t have wanted to do it in high school either. I remember being hated by English teachers because I was a first draft/final draft kind of student.

    We did a joint project with the local CC incorporating the design process and finalizing an articulation agreement:

  • skocko

    That’s a worthwhile project you’ve got there, Hayes, but the first draft/final draft attitude is a 1 or maybe (if it’s really good) a 2 on my rubric (on Student Page). That’s one battle I am taking on with a vengeance this year. Flatliners begone!

    I like the surf poster you show there but, man, that water’s gotta be cold!

  • Hannah

    I remember our conversation about language. I have noticed it more and more, its subtle manipulation of conversations because people don’t define words the same way! So interesting.

  • skocko

    Interesting and sometimes funny or uber-frustrating.

    I’ve written about it and so has Kim (Tardy Girl). You might be more interested in the second link.

  • Matt Cauthron

    Hi Mike.

    Is there a place on The Student Creative that we can post your above process?

  • Mike Skocko

    Anywhere you like, Matt, just so long as Betty Edwards gets credit for the process. The link’s in the text above. But…

    I’m in a workshop right now. The instructors is going s-l-o-w-l-y through the material, reading the text aloud. Death by direct instruction. AUGHHHHHHH!

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