Monday, February 23, 2015

Disappointing Week for 2 New Classes, Astronomy and Creativity

Two new classes started on Coursera this week (well probably a ton more, but I'm taking two) .  The first class I was really excited about, ASTRONOMY: Exploring Time and Space.  It's out of the University of Arizona (my favorite astrophysics professor from college came from there) and Chris Impey, the professor has written books and won all kinds of fanfare over teaching astronomy.  It's a six week course, so realistically I do understand that there isn't going to be serious depth to the class, especially since there aren't any advanced maths required.  But the first week??  It felt like it was aimed at the fifth grade level!!  In his defense a lot of the first week was history- but that could have been made more interesting, the scientific method part seemed like he was directing it at all the people that didn't understand what a scientific theory worked, or how it was proven or needed revisions or disproven.  While not in so many words it felt like he was talking to creationists , explaining why creationism is not a theory. I'm giving him one more week.  Week two is about Telescopes and tools of astronomical exploration.  If I feel like I'm transported back to Mrs Barlow's science class again I'm dropping the class.

The second class, sounded like it had a ton of promise as well, Ignite your Everyday Creativity. I want to be a creative person.  Curt, a lot of my friends and people I work with think I'm a creative person, but I disagree.  Curt thinks that looking at random food in the kitchen and making dinner is creative, I don't see it that way.  I see it as once you made basic foodstuffs, I'm just popping different foods into the equation that seem like they'll work together, I have been wrong, not often, but usually in a spectacular fireworks kind of wrongness when I am.  People think my knitting is creative.  In reality, my knitting benefits from a lot of other creative people.  From people blending different breeds of wool, to spinning it at different twists and plies,  dyers who can figure out what colors will work well together in what amounts, pattern designers who write and tweak patterns.  All I do is find a yarn I like, find a pattern I like and cast on, usually if I'm doing something in more than one yarn I need Curt to help me figure out what would look good together.  Rather than creative, I'm more fearless, or more honestly, don't give a crap about other peoples opinions of me.  If I like something I'll wear it, I don't worry about neutral colors in my yarn, or if anyone else would wear _____ in those colors.  I'm not scared of making something horrible, if I don't like it, there is a garbage can and take out or delivery (the advantages of first world life - if I lived in the time and place of the pilgrims or Little House on the Prairie, I might worry about it a bit more).

I signed up for this class hoping to bring out some creativity, or learn how to at least.  OMG.  I can't begin to tell you, I got halfway through week one, will try to finish week one this week, but OMG.  First of all the professors have been snorting something, and I want some.  They are trying too too too hard to come across as fun? entertaining? hopefully not the creative I'm going for.  It's like watching
the grown ups on Barney or other non-animated kids shows dance around.  I actually had the thought that maybe they are the kind of white people that only dance drunk, so the day of filming they started drinking ... early... before breakfast.  About 1/3 each video lecture time between the beginning and the end is stupid music, was happy for the ones where they weren't dancing at least.  AND THEY TRY TO HARD IN EACH LESSON JUST ABOUT SHOUTING AT THE CAMERA!!!!!    Thank the gods they don't have a regular certificate, just the verified one you need to pay for ( I really have no real life purpose for any of these classes, so no need to pay for certificates- not hanging them on the fridge) so I was just going to watch the videos and maybe do some of the assignments.  I think these are social media wannabes, because as of right now all the "assignments" are things like take a picture of yourself , caption it "I am Creative" and hashtag it #bcreative (oooohhh.. we left out the e in be... isn't that freaking creative???) and post it to twitter or instagram or facebook, or if you don't have social media on the discussion forum (yes let's clutter up the discussion forums with stoopid)  
Then take a picture where you feel creative and hashtag it #binspired (I do a lot of my watching over lunch at work!!  I have reactive hypoglycemia, losing my lunch over someone's stoopid is not healthy for me!!-- on the other hand if you're looking for a quick and easy weight loss regime...)

They make these two seem not stoned!!

Ok, the professors are trying too hard, the assignments I don't have to do are useless, but  is there anything I can take away to help me??  As of lesson 4 of 8 from that week, nothing most people don't already know.  There was a brief flicker of hope in the bAware lesson, that I thought might teach me something about finding what I have inside, but nope... another hashtag exercise. Most of what might be helpful (and I will admit that fear and anticipation of rejection do stop a lot of creative people in their tracks,  I just don't have that built into me, I faced a lot of rejection as a child and while different kids will cope differently with that, my method was to totally stop caring about what anyone thought, it really is freeing if you can manage it) 
  • Permission to fail
  • Suspend immediate judgement
  • Have an open mind
  • Slow down, be in the moment (ok I don't do slow down) 
  • Risk take
  • Embrace ambiguity(this is another thing I have an issue with)
  • Playfulness
  • Go for quantity
  • Build on other ideas
  • Seek wild and unusual ideas

There was a quote from whoever Alex Osborn is:

     Creative ideas reside in people's minds but are trapped by fear or rejection.  Create a judgement free environment and you'll unleash a torrent of creativity.

If he's right I should be a veritable flood of creativity... hmmmf..

Theresa Amabile (yeah never heard of her either) has a better quote, if one would consider most of my adult life as a dry spell and I think I lack the talent:

     Anyone with normal intelligence is capable of doing some degree of creative work.  Creativity depends on a number of things: experience, including knowledge and technical skills; talent, an ability to think in new ways; and the capacity to push through uncreative dry spells. 

As with the Astronomy class, I'm going to go through week 2 to see if their meds kick in and if there is anything I can learn from this or if it's a waste of hashtags I'll drop it.

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