Taking time to reflect on our process: can you see the man in the moon?

I teach a course called Theory of Knowledge (TOK), in which students are asked to become aware of the very frameworks that support their values, beliefs, morals and consider how this information is transmitted to individual/society/culture. It’s very nature asks developmentally egoist young people to think outside themselves about their role and responsibility to society. It asks them to question why they think the way they do.

I’ve seen so many TED talks and read countless articles that have stimulated my own thinking and understanding of the world. I’m confident that constantly looking at ideas from multiple perspectives is helping my creative process.

Many courses can hinder creative thinking and some argue (think Ken Robinson) that schools can kill creativity. I believe the tradition of schooling and its traditionally institutional forms can contribute to stunted thinking if you don’t include classes like TOK. Many students struggle to engage with the class and find its two assessment tasks challenging if they want strong marks. It’s because TOK doesn’t really ask for answers, but seeks to know how people reach the answers they do.

How can we apply this to the arts? I would argue few courses can celebrate and support creative process in the way TOK can. All of us artists, professional and amateur alike, should consider some TOK tools to help us think outside ourselves and see why we are motivated to create the way and what we do.

Questions to ask ourselves:

How do I know what I know?

What role does societal influence and cultural norms play in my work?

How is art a reflection of society?

What role does reason play in the arts?

What ethical responsibilities does an artist have?

How does sense perception play a role in my artwork?

How does language affect my interpretation and understanding of art?

BE COURAGEOUSLY CREATIVE: Take some time for reflection in your sketchbook and journal. Taking some time to reflect on the big picture may help you see why you are driven to make your creative choices, which can obviously help support your work. Do any of the above questions stand out for you? How would you begin answering them?

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