Sunday, May 13, 2012

Are you being Creative?

I had lunch with several educators and the conversation started with the observation that many of the modern Internet companies treat their employees very nicely with great, free food, time to develop their own projects, and contribution to their volunteering activities away from work. Why do they do it? Answer is, they want their employees be creative: you dont want your software engineer to come to work in the morning at 9 AM and ask, "What do you want me to code?", but you want them to be at work and ask, "What can I do to make things newer, better, slam dunker, .?". Now, the question is, why dont universities do the same to their employees, say faculty members? Dont universities want professors to be creative?

ps: The conversation later turned to, "Are we -- professors -- asking our students to be creative?" Not one educator at the table thought we make our students creative. I need  a more optimistic answer from the World. 


Blogger Chandra said...

Is creativity a means to an end or a goal in itself? In theory/math we ask our students to work on hard problems with the understanding that solving them would require creativity in addition to other things.

1:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

universities are doing great need to copy companies.

4:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think that we in universities need more free food.

12:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Chandra: I think mentoring a graduate student to become a researcher is teaching them to be creative. I think in this metric, we do well.

Anon1: I dont think Univ need to copy companies. Univs have and should develop their own mechanisms. You could argue that 3 months off during the summer is a way for Univs to help their faculty be creative. Ditto, the idea of sabbaticals.

Anon2: I have tasted the free food at some universities. :)

Summary: The questions on my mind that led to this post can be parsed in several ways. Examples below. :)

* Do we walk into an undergrad lecture and make it a priority to communicate/induce creativity?

* Do universities need mechanisms to foster creativity in their students and faculty other than the ones we have?

* Can we make free food taste good?

-- Metoo

6:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is increasing pressure to get more research funds in an increasingly competitive environment. With some of the creativity going towards marketing the proposals or rushing publications, there is probably less of it to spare for the actual project-related work, let alone for pursuing completely out-of-the-box ideas.

I think increasing the course load with some special problems courses is probably one way to do it. This can work if a small group of interested students pair up with a an interested professor. I think creativity can be learned by trying to mimic some creative people, and ending up going off on some tangent.

Faculty at the top of the food chain can probably give free summer courses or workshops to students. Doing it within the current structure with steep tuition and course requirements is probably going to be weak.


1:34 PM  

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