#CBR7 Review #115: inGenius by Tina Seelig

I’m in the process of reading books to help me redefine my pedagogy, both for my own purposes, and to write a good, specific teaching philosophy for job application materials. I’m also super incredibly behind in my reviews…this is going to be fun. We’ll see how my memory holds up a week (or two?) after-reading. I’ve had inGenius by Tina Seelig on my reading list for about a month after a conversation I had with my friend B. She recommended I look at Seelig’s take on creativity to see what I might incorporate in my classroom and thinking.

inGenius is subtitled “A Crash Course in Creativity.” Seelig is a professor at Stanford and has worked with students and colleagues of a variety of disciplines to help them with higher-order thinking skills. She describes a variety of outcomes that have emerged from new ways of conceiving the creative process. By the time inGenius ends, you wonder about the limits of your own imagination and potential, because Seelig challenges readers to push themselves beyond their ordinary boundaries.

At first, I was a bit disgruntled with inGenius, because it seemed to focus more on theoretical process of thinking about creativity than a practical guide to implementing new techniques in my classroom. And then I read the chapter on brainstorming. Seelig describes the various kinds of “hats,” from those who are logistical thinkers to the visionaries, to the implementers, to the devil’s advocates. Then she also describes the process of brainstorming, where you envision a bad idea, then a better one, then a really, really good one with a collaborative effort and time spent thinking about the impossible.

That inspired me to rethink my final exam for my English 2000 class this fall. I need to implement a midterm and a final, and I will make my midterm a “traditional” assessment. My final, however, is going to be a multi-modal career-oriented project. At first, I verbally brainstormed a poster or a diorama, but that wasn’t great. I later circled around a reworking of one of the novels. And then, before bedtime (seriously, bedtime and shower time are my prime thinking spots), it hit me: a career project that takes an aspect of one of the novels or the cultural/social/political milieu in the novels and applies it to the major or career of each student. There will also be a presentation element to practice verbal presentation skills. I could not have gotten there without thinking beyond the confines of tradition and going outrageous. Thanks, Tina Seelig. Your book was instrumental in helping me become more creative and ingenious.

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