Ask 10 people to define the word creativity and you’ll likely get 10 different answers, most of which would include visual arts, music or design. But creativity encompasses more than just the traditional creative arts. Without it, the world may not have bridges, the gas combustion engine or even personal computers. Creativity is one of the most critical characteristics a person can develop and at TCC, students can find virtually unlimited opportunities to foster this important personal and professional asset.
Fostering Brain Development
In one way or another, everyone is creative — it is hardwired into the brain. “People are naturally predisposed to logical thinking or creative thinking, but everyone has the ability to learn and grow in all areas of thinking,” said Caroline Hamilton, director of academic technology at TCC. “Your brain is an extremely dynamic structure that’s evolving all the time.”
Watching how children play is a prime example. A pile of blocks becomes an imaginary tower or an empty box becomes a rocket ship. But as children grow, research shows they often lose that spark of imagination. A research project that originated more than 50 years ago gave children a simple problem and asked them to find a creative solution. Ninety-eight percent of five-year-olds scored in the genius level for creativity. Ten years later, only 12 percent of those same children scored at a genius level.
Creativity is very valuable for developing the brain. “The ability to explore your creative brain is on the spectrum of critical thinking,” said Hamilton. “Creativity is an outward expression of how you create an enriched environment around you to explore, to think, to process. Enrichment and exposure to new and novel environments at the cellular level causes dramatic changes in how cells in the brain connect with one another. It is a change that helps to set the stage for greater potential for learning and processing of information over a lifetime.”
Fostering Success in Work & Life
In 1970, the Apollo 13 mission to the moon suffered a catastrophic accident when an oxygen tank exploded and destroyed part of the ship. Mission control quickly scrapped the mission and turned their focus to getting the astronauts home safely.
Without oxygen in the Service Module section of the ship, the astronauts had to be sealed into the Lunar Module section. The Lunar Module had enough oxygen, but the carbon dioxide filters weren’t designed to support three people for the four-day trip home. Without a creative solution to retrofit CO2 filters from another part of the ship, the astronauts would have died.
Even in a highly technical piece of machinery like a spaceship, life and death literally depended on creativity.
Creativity in problem solving is one of the most important job skills a person can have, according to LinkedIn Learning. TCC Computer Science professor Tyson McMillan says even in a career as seemingly cut and dried as computer programming, there are many opportunities for creativity. “Thirty students in my class will give me a slightly different path to the same solution,” he said. “As long as they all arrive at the same destination, that is what matters most.”
Skills used in complex projects can apply to almost any area of life. “Programming is an interdisciplinary field. All people can learn from breaking larger projects or problems into smaller, logical pieces. This is how we train programmers to think,” McMillan said.
Hamilton agrees. “You’re thinking critically through the problem that has to be solved and providing a creative solution to that problem.”
INSPIRATION & RELAXATION
Fostering a Peaceful Soul
No matter the medium, creativity is an outlet of self.
“People often think they have to be talented or spend a lot of money to create,” said Danelle Toups, assistant director of library services at TCC Trinity River. “That is simply not true! You can grab a piece of paper and watch origami videos online. You can put dirt into a bowl and plant tomato seeds from your salad. You can read eBooks from the library about almost any activity you choose.”
Every March, several of the TCC libraries host a National Craft Month celebration for students, faculty and staff. In past years, they’ve featured hands-on sessions for fiber arts, jewelry making, paper crafts and sewing.
“We love to learn from and collaborate with one another. When makers work together, we create something that is so much better than any of them could have created alone,” according to Toups.
At TCC South, Script Magazine — a yearly collection of student writings, art and photography — has been published since 1986. Faculty editor for Script, Logen Cure, has spearheaded the project for six years. Each year, upwards of 200 pieces are submitted for inclusion in the magazine.
“Our campus is home to so many talented students, and Script is a unique opportunity for those voices to be celebrated,” said Cure. “We use it to connect, to question, to document, to imagine, to resist. The 2020 issue of Script is very dark, grappling with grief, desire, death and ever- shifting perceptions of reality. It also documents the profound strength, courage and resilience of our community.”
Cure’s students also edit, create, publish and distribute the magazine. “My student editors are immensely dedicated people who take utmost care in reflecting the TCC South community back to itself,” she said. “Creativity is empowering and, in my experience, students do their best when they feel that their voices and their lives matter.”
Toups agrees. “[Creators] are more self-sufficient,” she said. “We are used to figuring out solutions to problems, which translates to a sense of pride and accomplishment. These traits carry over into all aspects of life. There is nothing better than being able to reply to a compliment by saying, ‘Thanks! I made it!’”
Whether it is organizing a closet, creating an algorithm or taking a mental health vacation, creativity is ingrained in almost every aspect of life.
To foster your creativity at TCC for work, for fun or for a lifetime, explore the more than 1,200 classes that are available. Start your adventure by visiting our programs from a-z.