Monday, June 6, 2016

Group Creativity

Over the past several years, I have been working on my PhD in Educational Psychology.   My work has concentrated on the Arts in Human Development because I believe that the Arts hold their greatest value beyond the aesthetics they teach.  My PhD work has only confirmed this.   For example, group creativity is one aspect of this 'greater value' I am talking about, and what Education today aspires to teach.

Group creativity requires a community; Musical Theater is a community of learning.   It requires a group of people (with multiple areas and levels of expertise) to come together in order for it to be created, and Musical Theater teaches so much more through the creating of the show.   It is why in completing my coursework and comprehensive exams, I chose to write my dissertation: THE PROCESS OF LEARNING IN MUSICAL THEATER PRODUCTION, A GROUNDED THEORY STUDY.

Today, in preparation for writing Chapter 2 of the dissertation (Literature Review), I read a peer-reviewed article called "Group creativity: musical performance and collaboration" by R. Keith Sawyer.   Through his research on Jazz improvisation and theatrical improvisation, he identifies three characteristics of group creativity: Improvisation, Collaboration, and Emergence.   Sawyer also mentions how group flow is at work, and that this emerges through the process of creation.

These observations are similar to much of what I have observed in the creation of a musical theater production.   The creative team, the actors, the stage management--everyone involved--is open and listening, while simultaneously performing their designated job.   Every person in the group is important, engaged and necessary to the overall outcome.  Through interaction and communication each person is inspired to bring their creativity to the creation.

Throughout his paper, Sawyer illustrates how group creativity aids the teaching of interactional skills--listening and how to respond appropriately, as well as how collaboration requires communication in social contexts--necessary life skill.  Sawyer vicariously demonstrates how VALUABLE the Arts are beyond the aesthetics they are teaching thus arguing for and supporting the need for the Arts in our education today.

Below is the reference.  It's a great article--well worth the read.

Sawyer, R. K. (2006). Group creativity: Musical performance and collaboration. Psychology of Music34(2), 148-165.

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