It was a rainy January day in one of the modern seminar rooms of Tel-Aviv University. I was doing some dry runs of my slideshow before my lecture began. Slowly, the international group of students gathered around the tables. A guy from India, a girl from Germany, another student from Turkey, a few French, and some Israelis.
They signed up for my workshop on creative development. The opening session was Creativity: Cultivate Conditions: from innovative technology in the Silicon Valley to creative hunting in the Aboriginal World. The main theme in this session was: Crossovers.
Creativity loves crossovers. Crossovers between fields and thinking styles generate new ideas. Like two blended colors which create a new one, or the two individuals who brought you into this world. After an hour or so, I decided to shake up the room, and gave them an exercise which revolved around the main theme.
One of my guiding principles as a teacher of creativity is to give raw assignments as much as I can. By doing so, I create room for the participants' imagination and authentic expression.
When the five minutes passed, I asked them to stop. As soon as their eyes crossed mine, I asked them: "did you notice that all of you chose to fill the assignment independently, and not as a couple or a group. What made this scene even more interesting, is that you come from different parts of the world, I finalized my short pitch.
First they were quiet, then there were mumbling, and finally one of them said cheerlessly: "This is how we were trained to think in school".
A good takeaway lesson is a provocative one. One that challenges the fixed habit and generates movement in the student's thoughts and feelings.
In this question I planted a seed in their minds. It'll germinate in the future, in some way, somewhere, to some extent.