Fredonia Shakespeare Club discusses creativity myths

The Fredonia Shakespeare Club met recently at the Clarion Hotel. Club President Mrs. Robert Woodbury welcomed members and thanked Ms. Florence McClelland for hosting the group.

Following the theme for the year “Creativity & the Spark of Genius,” Mrs. Homer Garretson presented her paper entitled “Myths about Creativity,” which she summarized as follows:

The word “creativity” is hard to define. Does it mean improving anything so that it is more beautiful, intelligent, and useful or must a creative person invent something entirely new and original? Must it be morally good or can it lead us in the wrong direction according to our own perceptions? Is a creative person different from the rest of us? Some of these questions have been discussed over the centuries with varying answers.

Are creative people more likely to be crazier than the general population? Plato thought so. Many poets, artists, and musicians have been known for their abnormal behavior: Percy Shelley, Robert Schumann, and Sylvia Plath come to mind. Are the families of creative people likely to have more mental illness than the average?

Another question is the ratio of creative men to creative women. A recent article in the OBSERVER discussed this. Are men more creative than women? History certainly tells us that this is so. What changes must women make before they can express their creativity? Change society’s attitudes? Get a mentor such as a supportive husband or father? Forego child bearing and rearing?

Can creativity be taught or is it found in the genes? Does it run in families? Some researchers have found that most creative people have come from families with above average environments, or, at least, unconventional environments.

A similar question relates to birth order. Are first born children more creative than later children in a family? The characteristics that a first born child exhibits in regard to his siblings are often discussed: demand for discipline, good behavior, obedience, and respect. Are these attributes that enhance creativity in the first born? Existing research gives no definitive answer.

Our assumptions about creativity at its highest level may be wrong, but researchers of both sexes are collecting data and trying to analyze the facts as they seem to be. We are all happy that women have today, if not an equal chance at creative work, at least a chance.

These questions stirred lively discussion among Club members, with many opportunities for learning.

Mrs. Brian Woods assisted at the tea table. The next meeting of the club will be held on at the home of Ms. Joyce Haines. Dr. Susan Besemer will present her paper entitled, “Defining and Measuring Creativity in Product Design: Searching for a Yardstick.”