Skip to main content

Secondary navigation:

College of Arts and Science

UN561.01 Creativity and Human Development

Syllabus: Fall, 2013

Prof. John Dacey

Professor Emeritus, Lynch School of Education

Office hours: Thursdays 11:00 - 12:00 p.m. and on my Blackboard Vista site.

The best path to becoming a more creative thinker is to learn how creativity works. When you do, you cannot help but emulate the process, because consciously and unconsciously, you will want to. This course will help you understand how successfully creative people think, believe and feel. Your job will be to compare yourself to these descriptions, note the ways in which you are like them, and admit the ways in which you are not. You did not become a senior at Boston College without being above average in creativity, as well as intelligence. Therefore you have already made progress toward being a more effective thinker and problem solver.

In this course, you will look at your life retrospectively (up to now) and prospectively (your plan for your future), with a distinct emphasis on what role your level of creative ability has played and will play. These two analyses will be achieved through writing two significant papers. In the first, you will take a hard look at your family relationships, your education (particularly at BC) and your social environment to assess how each has fostered and deterred your creative abilities. You will ask yourself if you have imaginatively attempted to contribute to social justice for  those in need in your immediate environment and/or farther away. That is, have you been living a productive life?

In the second paper, you will decide what role you want creativity to play in your life to come, to what extent you choose to use it to make contributions to your society, and how you hope to make that happen. The major focus of this course is to help you do this, through a variety of strategies for being more creative in all you do. Finally in this paper, you will need to ascertain how and whether you want spirituality, broadly defined, to assist you in your quest. These two papers will account for 50 percent of your grade.

Another 30 percent will derive from a semester-long creativity project in which you will use all of your imaginative powers to design something (a product, an activity, an artistic endeavor, etc.) that you hope will significantly benefit society. You will learn more about how to do this as the semester goes on.

The remaining 20 percent of your grade will depend on the quality (not quantity) of your contributions to small group discussions, which will take place each week and will be based on the several readings assigned for that week. Here is how these discussions will work:

There will be four groups of four students. At the end of six weeks, groups will be reassigned. Each week, a different group member will be responsible for bringing a least three thought-provoking questions for each of the readings assigned for that day, and will lead the discussion of them. You should combine your group’s answers into one file, typed by another group member as an electronic file (this role also rotates). After class, that person will email the group’s answers to everyone in the class at un56101s@bc.edu. You should read these emails to see how other groups handled the assignment. I will be reading and grading each file.

Here’s the main point: everyone in the group gets the same grade for each week’s product. That means that if you don’t do the readings (and take notes), you will let your group down. Also, I will be observing the discussions and I will see that who is participating. If you fail to do your share, your group’s grade will suffer. Every two weeks, you can see your grade for participation in small group discussions by looking at the grade book on Blackboard Vista.

Required Texts

Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1998). Finding flow: The psychology of engagement with everyday life (masterminds series). NY: Basic Books (Paperback)

Dacey, J. (2011). A history of the concept of creativity. Chapter in Gardner, H., & Sternberg, R., Eds. Encyclopedia of creativity, 3 Vols. 2nd Ed. San Francisco: Academic Press. (see Blackboard Vista)

Dacey, J., & Conklin, W. (2013). Creativity AND the Standards. Huntington Beach, CA: Shell/TCM.

Dacey, J., & Lennon, K. (1998). Understanding creativity: The interplay of biological, psychological, and social factors. NY: Wiley

Frost, M. (2005). The greatest game ever played. New York: Hyperion. (Paperback)

Supportive Texts

Bennett, H. (2009). Write starts: Prompts, quotes, and exercises to jumpstart your creativity. NY: New World Library.

Carson. S. (2010). Your creative brain: Seven steps to maximize imagination, productivity, and innovation in your life. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Health Publications.

Galindo, J. (2010). The power of thinking differently: an imaginative guide to creativity, change, and the discovery of new ideas. Los Altos, CA: Hyena Press.

Gardner, H., & Sternberg, R., Eds. (2012).Encyclopedia of creativity, 3 Vols., 2nd Ed.. San Francisco: Academic Press. (Expensive: only for the passionate student of creativity.)

Hurson, T. (2007)  Think better: An innovator's guide to productive thinking. Boston, NY: McGraw-Hill.

Kurtweil, R. (2012). How to Create a Mind. New York; Viking.

Michalko, M. (2011). Creative thinkering: Putting your imagination to work. NY: New World Library.

Academic Integrity

Information for Students with Disabilities

Appendix 1: Behavioral Scale for Class Participation

“A”: Outstanding Performance Category

  • initiates information relative to topics discussed
  • accurately exhibits knowledge of assignment content
  • demonstrates excellent listening by remaining on the "same page" as the rest of class, as demonstrated by comments
  • brings up questions that need to be further explored
  • clarifies points that others may not understand
  • draws upon personal experience or opinion
  • offers relevant, succinct input to class
  • demonstrates ability to apply, analyze, and synthesize course material
  • demonstrates willingness to take risk in attempting to answer unpopular questions
  • never misses class, except in uncontrollable emergency

“B”: Good Performance Category

  • regularly participates in class discussions
  • shares relevant feedback
  • gives feedback to classroom group discussions
  • consistently demonstrates knowledge of reading assignments
  • demonstrates ability to analyze/apply course material
  • demonstrates willingness to attempt to answer questions
  • almost never misses class

“C”: Fair/Average Performance Category

  • participates in group discussion when solicited
  • offers clear, concise, "good" information relative to class assignments
  • offers input, but tends to reiterate the intuitive
  • infrequently misses class

“D”: Poor Performance

  • occasional input, often irrelevant, unrelated to topic
  • reluctant to share information
  • not following flow of ideas
  • drains energy from class goals
  • often misses class

“F”: Unacceptable Performance

  • fails to participate, even when solicited (in small or large groups)
  • gives no input
  • shows up to class and does nothing; or, misses class regularly group distraction

Date and Session Number Assignments

Class 1 (Gasson 208)

Assignments:

Dacey/Lennon 1

Class topics for discussion:

Infallibility of the professor

Getting to know your socks

#1

Introduction to the course

Your creative ability – first set of tests

The What Country Am I? game

Further guidelines for two self-projective papers (organization and content possibilities; differences between the two papers)

Class 2

A History of the Concept of Creativity, Finding Your Own Muse (a hypnotic meditation)

Assignments:

Read or listen to my lecture on Freud

Dacey: A History of the Concept of Creativity (BbV = Blackboard Vista)

My Creative Progress Tracker (BbV)

#2

Class topics for discussion:

Freud lecture: (Sample topics for discussion: Sex main motive? 3 functions of psyche? Five stages? Oedipus and Electra?)

Dacey/Lennon 2: A History of the Concept of Creativity (Sample topics for discussion: 3 eras, religion vs. genetic vs. biopsychosocial)

Finding Your Own Muse (a hypnotic meditation)

Discuss My Creative Progress Tracker

Class 3

Creativity Theory

Assignments:

Dacey/Conklin Chapters 1 and 2

#3

Class topics for discussion:

Lecture on Erikson, Part 1

What is a creative person like?

Theories of how creativity works

Merge ideas for My Creative Progress Tracker; fill in your own to date

Class 4

Creative Thinking and Your Family’s Life Style

Assignments:

The Dacey family study (BbV)

#4

Dacey/Lennon 3

Class topics for discussion:

Lecture on Erikson, Part 2

The Dacey family study

Dacey/Lennon 3

Bring a computer or tablet: Make-your-own-video-game

Class 5

Creative Thinking and Your Social Milieu

Assignments:

Read or listen to my lecture on Skinner

First half of Csikszentmihalyi

#5

Class topics for discussion:

Speaker on electronic communications systems

Skinner lecture

First half of Csikszentmihalyi

Class 6

The Sociohistoric Causes of Significant Bursts of Creativity (such as the American Revolution)

Assignments:

Read or listen to my lecture on Bandura

Dacey/Lennon Ch. 4

Speaker on creativity in sales

Better Method of Classroom Control (BMCC-BbV)

#6

First self-reflective paper due

Class topics for discussion:

Bandura lecture

BMCC

Dacey/Lennon 4

Informal class evaluation

Popsicle stick bridges (Olympics of the Mind)

Class 7

Characteristics and Values of Creative Thinkers

Assignments:

Read or listen to my lecture on Piaget

Dacey/Lennon 5 and 7

#7

Class topics for discussion:

Piaget lecture

Dacey/Lennon 5 and 7

Class interview with Tim Lindgren, BC technology specialist, on the most creative applications on the internet

Write a haiku poem

Class 8

Strategies Creative Thinkers Commonly Use

Assignments:

Read or listen to my lecture on Fromm

Dacey/Conklin strategies paper (BbV)

Dacey paper on brainstorming (BbV)

#8

Class topics for discussion:

Fromm lecture

Dacey/Conklin strategies

Brainstorming on term projects

Problem-solving—scavenger hunt around campus with cell phone cameras

Design an activity to demonstrate 18 strategies

Questions about second paper

Class 9

The Central Role of Self Control

Assignments:

Read or listen to my lecture on Maslow

Dacey/Lennon 6

Dacey self-control study in the schools (BV)

#9

Second self-projective paper due

Class topics for discussion:

Maslow lecture

Dacey/Lennon 6

Dacey self-control study in the schools

"Escaping the Tunnel" game

Class 10

Creative Problem Solving

Assignments:

Read or listen to my lecture on Jung

Dacey/Lennon 9

Reflective listening (True Feelings – BbV)

Second half of Csikszentmihalyi (concentrate on brilliant last chapter!)

#10

Class topics for discussion:

Crumbling mine game discussion by in-group

Jung lecture

Dacey/Lennon 9

Second half of Csikszentmihalyi

Reflective listening

Black magic game

Class 11

The Physiology of Creativity, Exploring Creativity in Sports

Assignments:

Read or listen to my lecture on Frankl

Dacey/Lennon 10 and 11

Frost historical novel - all

#11

Class topics for discussion:

Frankl lecture

Dacey/Lennon 10 and 11

Frost historical novel – all

Write an imaginative obit about yourself

Class 13

Measuring Creative Ability

Assignments:

Read or listen to my lecture on Buddhist theory

Dacey/Conklin 7 and 9

Dr. Maggie Mack on creativity in the early years

#12

Class topics for discussion:

Buddhist psychology lecture

Creative characteristics

Creativity measurement techniques

Class 13

Presentations of Creative Projects:

First eight students present projects. Fifteen minutes per person. Random selection of presentations on first day of class. Creativity of presentation counts for 25%, content of ideas, 75%. Practice before class!

Non-presenters write down critiques and email to whole class at end of session.

#13

Class topics for discussion:

Guess Who I Am game

Class 14

Presentations of Creative Projects:

Second eight students present projects. Fifteen minutes per person. Creativity of presentation counts for 25%, content of ideas, 75%. Practice before class!

Non-presenters write down critiques and email to whole class at end of session.

#14

Class topics for discussion:

Growth in Your Creative Ability: Complete Creativity Tracker

Happy Holidays