March 9, 2017
By Eleanor Huang
When considering creativity, we often mistake “art” as the pseudonym it hides behind. Even though the two areas collide in some aspects, they also differ greatly from one another. Creativity refers to the ability to produce original visions or solutions, and being able to plan a reasonable course of action to achieve a goal. Of course, the goal could be an artistic aspiration, in which the line dividing creativity and artistry may become fuzzy. However, it’s easily refocused: artistry denotes the craftsmanship of connecting the thoughts in your mind to a tangible product. While we do use these artistic skills in our classes by building model houses and drawing for stop motion videos, MarinSEL has taught me that creativity isn’t defined by the skill of your hand, but by the imagination of your mind.
As we near the middle of the second semester of our high school experience, my peers and I have used creativity in every class multiple times. It seems appropriate to begin my explanation with English, a surprisingly experimental class. Recently, some of our explorations have revolved around word choice, especially verb variety. It’s important to consider how we phrase sentences, as verb choice can give more clarity than adjectives. In verb choice, we can distinguish whether a character ate a pie, or if she devoured it; if she walked or strutted; if she spoke or she muttered. So far, we’ve worked on avoiding “to be” (is, are, was, were) and other bland verbs. This forces us to rethink and rearrange our sentences in creative ways to better reflect our ideas. It may seem
simple, but this careful combing has been slowly changing our habits to write in a more complex and academic style. Sentence by sentence, we edit out the overused, mechanical sections in exchange for those with flavor and originality. It takes patience to
create a beautiful writing piece, but the end product validates the painstaking work. However, creativity comes in many other forms, and some of the most satisfying successes happen in group work, building on one another’s ideas.
Moving throughout the day in the life of a MarinSEL freshman, we enter the Geography classroom. The exploration of our energy unit leads us to Zero Net Energy Buildings, one of the innovative concepts assisting the fight against climate change. Zero Net Energy, or ZNE, is a combination of energy conservation and efficiency to create buildings that produce as much energy as they consume. Assigned in groups of four to five, we each drew a floorplan for one of the rooms in our house to piece together a small, but non ZNE, living space. With room to improve, we took the opportunity to assess these hypothetical homes and modify them appropriately. Because none of us had worked with ZNE before, we felt unsure of the kinds of problems we would face. Taking it head on, we ended up creating a proposal and a new and improved version of our original home made from cardboard. It took our artistic skill and intuition to build the new version and all its little furniture, but it was creativity that allowed us to arrive there, guiding us through the stresses of the issues with heating, plumbing, and much more in our houses. We did all of this on a small scale, but what if we could create something to change the world?
In Biology, we might be doing exactly that by designing superheroes. At the moment, DNA lessons occupy the class as we familiarize ourselves with genetics. Next, we’ll be addressing an issue in the world that we feel needs solving. Then we’ll imagine a superhero who could fix the problem, and dream up what his or her powers would look like. As a project with hardly any limits, the assignment’s open endedness forces us to think outside the box of reality. In a fantasy world, how would our course of action to combat complications to the human race differ from the innovations we create in this one? It compels us to open our minds to implausible options, but we should also remember that no one would’ve thought smartphones were a possibility before the 20th century, proof that with a bit a creativity and drive, inconceivable ideas transform into achievable possibilities.
Creativity takes many forms, whether it be rearranging words to be more expressive and thoughtful, designing a Zero Net Energy home, or dreaming up fictitious superheros in order to think of new solutions to genuine problems. The MarinSEL curriculum sets us up to develop lifelong skills while covering the subject matter with a fun and engaging approach. Ignoring the standard box of thinking, we continuously internalize an aptitude for creativity so that we can solve pressing issues in innovative ways, now and in the future.