NELIG conference reflections, part two: The keynote experience

Drawing by Maureen Perry

Last week I promised to cover the keynote address from the NELIG conference.  Randy Hensley (Baruch College, City University of New York) had offered us participants a keynote experience.

After getting our attention with a song he had us each draw what creativity meant to us.  My drawing (shown above) starts with two distinct segments symbolizing two–or more–parties involved in a project.  Each one brings to the project individual talents and experiences that should be honored.  When these parties work together, the magic happens.  The yellow (gold) seam symbolizes this magic.

Then we applied our senses to a current problem.  We each chose a problem and described how that problem sounded, smelled, tasted, and felt.  Let’s take my chosen problem, too many minutiae to cover during library instruction.  Hear the rumble of a departing train.  Smell the  exhaust.  Taste the grit.  Feel the air as your reach for something that is no longer there.  Some details are necessary, but  excessive detail can make students miss the train of the major concepts.  Now we have a metaphor for the problem: we can work toward a solution.

Drawing from Daniel Pink’s book A Whole New Mind Hensley then described the current conceptual age.  This age values meaning, intrinsic motivation, and purpose.  We then discussed a conceptual age model for working creatively.  Its components are design (purposeful and aesthetic), story, symphony (components coming together in novel ways), empathy, play, and meaning.  How do we bring some of these elements into our classes?