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  • Writer's pictureAmy Burvall

Break, Shake, Make: Making as Learning for #teachtheweb

Week 1 Assignment for #teachtheweb MOOC: Reflect on Making as Learning.

I decided to piece together some of my slides from a presentation I did about Creativity and Making for students in Vancouver, Canada (Van Tech and Crofton House), as well as some additional clips and quotes. I really had planned on providing a voiceover but the music was so groovy (thanks, !) that I decided to leave as is and annotate it here in this post.

BREAK (out of the box), SHAKE (it up), MAKE (something)

You can see one of my mottos (I use whenever I’m confronted with naysayers)-


I think we all can agree that construction is more lovely and leaves more of a legacy than destruction but I think sometimes we need to be reminded of that, particularly when we get into criticism mode.

I like it almost as much as the other one I use frequently (often as a self-policing measure before posting something online) –

“Stay Classy, Not Sassy”

I find the “IKEA” effect and the 1950s housewife-cakemix-egg story to be very effective in illustrating that humans tend to adore the things they’ve contributed in making, even if their work is marginal at best. You can read all about it in this great article in the  Harvard Business Review

Create…before it’s too late…

That creepy picture of me as Marat in David’s famous painting “Death of Marat” comes from my French Revolution video. It’s always been one of my favorite works of art, and it was a blast posing for it (in the video I also play the assassin, Charlotte Corday). The point of that bit is that life is too short to not be actively creating and leaving something of value behind – even if it’s just for your family. I came to terms with that when I was diagnosed with breast cancer 6 years ago.

Get Some Creative Friends…STAT!

Most of the great imagineers in this world who’ve commented on creativity assert that one should surround oneself with creative people. Anyone who has studied art history can certainly recall the influence respective art communities have had in spurring individual artists on. What would Van Gogh do without Gaugin?  Warhol without Nico? I also think it’s important to find some creative heroes. I included the clever Austin Kleon of Steal Like an Artist and Newspaper Blackout fame in a few sections of my little film, because he’s someone who has definitely inspired me.

Write it Down!

I’m a HUGE fan of post-its and practically have them plastered all over my desk, computer, and moleskin calendar. As digital as I am, there is a certain beauty about that analog invention. I cut in a couple of clips from adorable and thoroughly creative short films as an “ode to post-its”, but also wanted to show some examples of my own crude brainstorm notes on the back of receipts or scraps of notebook paper. I tend to have insomnia, which is generally annoying but makes one amazingly productive IF and only IF one has a way to record one’s middle-of-the-night ideas.

Play with it!

My film hopefully alludes to the importance of PLAY in one’s work – whether it be doodling or wordsmithing, or even adding rhyme or music to  mundane things. I think wordplay in particular is great brain-training.

List it!

The only way I keep my cluttered mind and life resembling some sense of sanity is  making a list before breakfast with everything I need to accomplish that day and a little checkbox next to it. This year I had so many long term projects, I ended up taking a huge sheet of butcher paper and making columns (including one called “Create”) and sticking it behind my desk at work. There is no greater joy than checking off a box or crossing out a task with Sharpie.

“Madonnify, Legofy” – yes I like to make up words

I’m a big fan of remix and reinvention, but also with having some theme or consistency and staying true to oneself. But..never…never should anyone settle for “being beige”.

I’d love to hear your thoughts…How do YOU stay creative? How does making help you learn?

As for me, I learn from failing (often), tinkering, experimenting, and putting myself and work “out there” for authentic critique. I like my students to do the same, and each year I see them getting less whiny and reactive and more proactive with trouble-shooting skills.

…and that’s what I call shaking it up.

#creativity #teachtheweb #making #learning #remix

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