The Creativity Workshop:
The Creativity Workshop focuses on developing creative skills in people from all professions: education, business, the arts, sciences, and social services. We offer summer workshops in New York City, Verona in Italy, Crete in Greece, Prague in the Czech Republic, Barcelona in Spain and Lisbon in Portugal. We teach people ways to develop their creativity and use it in life, work, and creative expression. We do this through a unique series of exercises in Creative Writing, Memoir, Art, Photography, Storytelling and Mindfulness. Many teachers and students taking the workshop receive financial help from their schools and can also get 3 university credits and CEUs.
Participating teachers come from all over the world. They have been specialists in literature, performing arts, visual art, filmmaking, and creative writing, as well as math, business, science, psychology, and computer technology to name a few. Our workshops offer tools and techniques that educators can implement to help students develop their creative, collaborative, artistic, and writing skills, as well as out-of-the-box thinking, self-confidence, leadership, and respect for peers. Our experiential exercises are concentrated in the following areas:
1. Getting Over Fear of Creativity
In order to channel creativity and maximize its potential, many individuals first need to overcome such obstacles as self-criticism and writer’s block. Our techniques in free-form (automatic) writing and drawing, along with our visualization and relaxation exercises, help individuals get over the hindrances that make them afraid to express themselves, say the wrong things, paint a bad picture, take a stupid photograph, write a foggy paragraph, or sing off-key. The workshop works against self-censorship in the early stages of creation so that critical analytical skills will come into play later when they can be more effective.
2. Team Work
We believe that by sharing work in intimate groups, students can learn to develop and feel secure in their academic endeavors. Such work also helps individuals become self-confident and listen respectfully to others. Our teacher professional development courses involve several modules in which collaboration is explored.
3. Map Making
Every creative and analytical project has a process or “way.” The Creativity Workshop shows educators how they can make journey maps or scrolls with their students to illustrate the process and progress of their work. The maps, which are a visual and written representation of the ongoing work in the classroom, help students see where they are in their projects and where they can go with them.
4. Free-Form Writing And Automatic Drawing
Teachers will learn how to use our free writing and automatic drawing techniques with their students in oder to help them find their innate ideas and develop them. The workshop also teaches imaginative editing techniques through our “writing a jungle” exercise, which involves making an editing trail through a jungle of words.
Storytelling, be it visual or literary, is vital to how we perceive and share our perceptions of the world. We do several exercises centered on this theme, including the telling of stories inspired by found objects, as well as having participants conduct interviews in groups of two, after which they must “become” the other person. These activities also teach listening skills, which greatly enhance our abilities to express ourselves and learn from our peers.
6. Changing Perceptions
How we see is important to what we see. We teach a variety of techniques aimed at altering perceptions physically (through cameras, cutout shapes, kaleidoscopes, telescopes, microscopes) and emotionally (through fairy tales, memoir writing, or inter-generational interviews), which assist students in broadening their sense of the world they live in.
7. Using Your Environment
We teach participants how to use their natural surroundings to generate ideas. Exercises carried out in local cafes, libraries, cafeterias, the woods, and the mountains show that inspiration can come from the most everyday and surprising of places.
In our busy, multitasking world, we seldom feel we have enough time to create. Participants taking the workshops will walk away with the valuable lesson of how to “stretch time” and use 15-minute blocks to do satisfying creative work on an ongoing basis.
Teachers spend so much of their time encouraging and supporting their students. At times, teachers forget to nurture themselves! The Creativity Workshop devotes class time to techniques in mindfulness, self-nurturing, curiosity, and not always knowing the “right” answer.
10. Professional Development
Many schools offer funding for professional development, and many workshop attendees have received financial aid to attend our sessions from their school district or from national programs such as Fund for Teachers. Costs for the workshop and related educational travel expenses may be tax deductible if the course is relevant to your profession. In addition, if you are completing an advanced degree, you may be able to take The Creativity Workshop as an Independent Study course. In this way, your university can give you credit for it. The Creativity Workshop was taught as a regular course at the University of Iowa for many years, offering 3 credits and open to graduate and undergraduate students through the International Writing Program.
The only requirements for attending our workshops are curiosity and a desire to explore the creative spirit inherent to us all. We will help you learn to recognize and trust your imagination’s instincts and to understand your creative process. Our exercises are broad paradigms that each participant can easily tailor to her/his own goals, whether they pertain to a particular project or creative expression in general. The Creativity Workshop gives you effective techniques to combat debilitating self-criticism and the fear of failure that lead to creative blocks. We believe that creativity is best served in a playful, nurturing, non-competitive environment where freedom and focus go hand in hand. The Workshop focuses on the creative process, rather than simply the creative product. We emphasize the idea of creativity as a way of living and appreciating life.
We are all born creative, curious, and hungry to explore the world around us. The question is how to keep those qualities alive and flourishing as an adult. That is the goal of The Creativity Workshop and the raison d’être for all its exercises and teachings. For a child, creativity is expressed in play and play is the way s/he learns. Life is just one big erector set that is to be snapped together and pulled apart in a thousand different ways. But as adults we often lose that flexibility of mind and feel compelled to put away our toys as we acquire jobs, kids, and mortgages. We at The Creativity Workshop believe you can retrieve the child’s sense of wonder and it will help you live a richer, deeper life.
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