I celebrated my 50th birthday in a classroom at SUNY/Buffalo State discussing one of my favorite topics, creativity, with my grad school cohort. This past weekend, the International Center for Studies in Creativity at Buffalo State--the first accredited college and graduate program in creativity in the world--celebrated its 50th anniversary. I wish I could have been there to join in the celebration and to reconnect with friends and colleagues. Instead, I was at Maine Media Workshops practicing and teaching what I learned at Buff State. Thanks, Alex Osborn, Sid Parnes, Ruth Noller and all of the amazing professors along the way who have made this such a great program--one that is changing lives and changing the world.
Buffalo State College
Dr. Susan Keller-Mathers, assistant professor of creative studies at SUNY/Buffalo State College, was the closing plenary speaker for the Society of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education (STLHE) Conference at Ryerson University in Toronto this past June. Her topic was "Building Passion and Potential for Creative Learning and Teaching." About mid-way through her talk (move the slider bar to 37:00 and press play), she highlighted my photographic and research project on college women and creativity. It's also a great talk if you're interested in learning more about creativity from an educational perspective. And I especially enjoyed how she described her own view of creativity:
"You will find your creative path when you are in rhythm with nature and expressing your authentic self."
I have been blessed with some wonderful teachers over the years. One that truly stands out in the crowd is Dr. Mary Murdock, associate professor at the International Center for Studies in Creativity at Buffalo State College. Mary passed away earlier this week at the age of 62, and she will be deeply missed by her many colleagues and students, whom she considered "her family."
The Buffalo News published a very nice tribute to her this week. In it, they noted her many contributions to the field of creativity, of which she was a pioneer and international leader. Indeed, she taught me much about creativity. But I also learned much from her about teaching--she was generous with her knowledge, shared more practical ideas and tips in a day than most teachers share in a semester, and was a living example of how to engage students in the learning process. And she taught her students about living graciously and creatively--making the most of every day, despite challenges and disappointments.
During her final days back home in North Carolina, messages flooded in to her from around the world. They came via email, text and facebook. It is my understanding that they were all read to her, and that she delighted in that.
Just as so many were moved by "The Last Lecture" by Randy Pausch, I was blessed to be a student in Mary's "Last Class" at Buffalo State this past summer. It was an amazing experience. I will carry her teachings and memory with me always.
Want to learn more about creative thinking? To improve your problem-solving skills? To live a more creative life? The International Center for Studies in Creativity at Buffalo State College is offering a four-week, online course called Putting Ideas Into Action--a series of 14 short videos to view at your convenience and exercises that you can (and should) complete to help you practice what you learn. There will also be online class discussions so that you can reflect on your learnings with others. Complete the course and they'll even give you a certificate (something you can show your boss). But best of all, you'll learn new skills for tackling everyday challenges--whether at work, at home, in your community or while engaging in your favorite activities. For more information, check out the short introductory video on their website.