Mining group gold: the art of learning

December 11, 2007

I stumbled across two articles that really resonated with me. Here and here. The latter of those two articles, from GIBS review, has a great quote about art and business that, I think, can be applied to educational blogging.

“The arts discipline is emerging as a role model for business.
Writing, reflecting, collaborating,…it’s an art and it can lead to great innovations.”

As I talk to those in corporate training I sense that educational blogging – writing (and expressing ideas in other forms), reflecting, and collaborating – is not taken too seriously. It’s a hard sell – both to employers and employees. Generally employers don’t pay people to write and reflect and employees can’t envision writing and reflecting about their work. ‘What should I write? they’ll ask.

I can probably track down  many companies that are having great success with educational blogging – this art of writing, reflecting, and collaborating – but it’s not mainstream by a long shot. Why? Maybe this….

Skills that utilise intuition, inspiration and active imagination haven’t found a home within the corporate world. “Many employees have equally separated their love of creativity and the arts, and a chasm exists between their right and left brains.

Aah…this stirs up that oft cited concept that children are more imaginative, more artistic, than adults. True? An older position paper, “The Child’s Right to Creative Thought and Expression,” for the Association for Childhood Education International (ACEI) by Mary Renck Jalongo, says:

To be imaginative means that a person formulates rich and varied mental images, sees beyond the obvious, and draws upon experience in inventive and effective ways.

Adults may have the advantage when it comes to storing and retrieving information, drawing upon experience, and making judgments about what is appropriate and effective. Fishkin (1998) uses the term “germinal creativity” as a preferred descriptor for budding creativity in children. While germinal creativity produces unique ideas, the child may not yet have the ability to execute them well or communicate them clearly to others.

Why pursue writing, reflection, and collaborative learning in the workplace? In a word: innovation. An article in the GIBS review, The Art of Work is a great read that helps answer that question.

Art clearly stimulates and preserves business. It therefore makes sense for business to stimulate and preserve art. Art embodies diverse interpretations of how we see the world. It opens our minds, tempts creativity and inspires new ideas.

It’s the collaboration/innovation link that resonates most with me. I would not write here in this space if not for the collaborative nature of the conversation, the creative and diverse opinions of the community, and the support.

In the past, in the present, and in the future, our most enlightened visions of education will be connected by the common thread of imagination, creative thought, and enhanced opportunities for creative expression. As we look ahead, it will no doubt be possible to trace society’s greatest innovations and achievements back to an abiding respect for creative thought processes during childhood. For when we value creative thinking and creative expression in society, it becomes part of our social consciousness and social capital. Society then protects its reserves of creativity by fashioning networks of support that are capable of instilling confidence, promoting resilience, and multiplying ways of being intelligent in every person, commencing in childhood and continuing throughout the lifespan.

In the GIBS article, Linda Naiman believes “with an increased focus on the arts, corporations can overcome many major obstacles, including diversity, cross-group collaboration, and work/life balance.” She also says:

A shared art experience in an environment of trust and freedom enhances our sense of belonging and creates a crucible for deep conversation from which caring, camaraderie and genius-level thinking emerge.

I like Naiman’s description of the process mining group gold.I certainly have witnessed some genius-level thinking in the little group some of us refer to as the edublogosphere. And I’m grateful.

  • Bailey

    This article outlines a point that is near and dear to my heart. Not only does it espouse the importance of being creative and a free-thinker, but it admonishes society and big business for not putting enough importance on creativity in the workplace. Is this what we wish to pass on to our future generations? I think not. Do we want them to babysit and computer and be technically literate only while they stay stifled in under flourescent lights as they pine for the clock to hands to reach 5pm so that they can go home and have their creative cathartic release there? Let’s emphasize and push our children to be artistic thinkers now. The new site, http://www.kabillion.com/littledirector does this so well by enabling children to draw and animate, insert music and voice-overs, and create their own movies and storybooks. I work for them so I went to the site to ‘play’ and I can tell you it is kid focused and user friendly. And parents will be overjoyed to purchase what their little Picasso’s churn out which can be put on DVD for years to come. Don’t delay. Join your tike today and go create something. The sky is the limit and you may be surprised at what they come up with and how much fun you will both have making it.

  • Bailey

    This article outlines a point that is near and dear to my heart. Not only does it espouse the importance of being creative and a free-thinker, but it admonishes society and big business for not putting enough importance on creativity in the workplace. Is this what we wish to pass on to our future generations? I think not. Do we want them to babysit and computer and be technically literate only while they stay stifled in under flourescent lights as they pine for the clock to hands to reach 5pm so that they can go home and have their creative cathartic release there? Let’s emphasize and push our children to be artistic thinkers now. The new site, http://www.kabillion.com/littledirector does this so well by enabling children to draw and animate, insert music and voice-overs, and create their own movies and storybooks. I work for them so I went to the site to ‘play’ and I can tell you it is kid focused and user friendly. And parents will be overjoyed to purchase what their little Picasso’s churn out which can be put on DVD for years to come. Don’t delay. Join your tike today and go create something. The sky is the limit and you may be surprised at what they come up with and how much fun you will both have making it.

  • http://in-the-middle-of-the-curve.blogspot.com/ Wendy

    A potential model for corporate blogging is a project diary. Many of my blog posts have been project diaries because I learn a lot about myself and I have a written record of what works and what doesn’t in practice rather than just theory.

    I can undertand why blogging doesn’t happen in the corporate world. We still live in a world where 95+% of corporate culture does not tolerate mistakes or experimentation (despite platitudes to the contrary). Why in the WORLD would you want to have your dirty laundry aired in public (either the internal corporate public or the wider world). Or risk having your creative work used against you.

    Not that this has ever stopped me…. :’ )

  • http://in-the-middle-of-the-curve.blogspot.com/ Wendy

    A potential model for corporate blogging is a project diary. Many of my blog posts have been project diaries because I learn a lot about myself and I have a written record of what works and what doesn’t in practice rather than just theory.

    I can undertand why blogging doesn’t happen in the corporate world. We still live in a world where 95+% of corporate culture does not tolerate mistakes or experimentation (despite platitudes to the contrary). Why in the WORLD would you want to have your dirty laundry aired in public (either the internal corporate public or the wider world). Or risk having your creative work used against you.

    Not that this has ever stopped me…. :’ )

  • http://www.brandon-hall.com/ Janet Clarey

    Wendy, your comment made me think of a question someone asked me at the CLTI online conference. I was asked about hurdles, lessons learned, etc. about some implementations I was highlighting. My answer…we don’t see/create bad case studies. No organization has been willing to contribute to the Bloopers report I hope to one day write. : )

    I think one of the reasons I like your blog so much (and why you have such a following) is that recording real life projects – warts and all – is extremely valuable. You do it well. I hope you’ll inspire others to document their corporate learning too.

  • http://www.brandon-hall.com/ Janet Clarey

    Wendy, your comment made me think of a question someone asked me at the CLTI online conference. I was asked about hurdles, lessons learned, etc. about some implementations I was highlighting. My answer…we don’t see/create bad case studies. No organization has been willing to contribute to the Bloopers report I hope to one day write. : )

    I think one of the reasons I like your blog so much (and why you have such a following) is that recording real life projects – warts and all – is extremely valuable. You do it well. I hope you’ll inspire others to document their corporate learning too.

  • http://www.brandon-hall.com Janet Clarey

    Wendy, your comment made me think of a question someone asked me at the CLTI online conference. I was asked about hurdles, lessons learned, etc. about some implementations I was highlighting. My answer…we don’t see/create bad case studies. No organization has been willing to contribute to the Bloopers report I hope to one day write. : )

    I think one of the reasons I like your blog so much (and why you have such a following) is that recording real life projects – warts and all – is extremely valuable. You do it well. I hope you’ll inspire others to document their corporate learning too.

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