Cognitive Seeds: 2017 SUNY Council on Writing Presentation

In a few weeks I’ll be presenting at the 2017 SUNY Council on Writing conference to be held at Onondaga Community College in Syracuse, NY.  Here’s the abstract of the presentation I’ll deliver, which delves into creativity, cognition and the college writing classroom in the age of distraction.

Cognitive Seeds: The Role of Creative Thinking in First-Year Writing

Debates have raged for years within composition about the role creative writing ought to play in our first-year writing classrooms.  However, an overlooked and neglected hinge within this debate is the variety of affordances creative thinking might contribute to our students’ intellectual and cognitive palates. A recent surge in interest regarding creative thinking’s role in writing classrooms has been stimulated by important scholarship from a diverse array of writers including Hyde, Robinson and Sternberg.  Recently, Patrick Sullivan has introduced this growing trend to the pages of College Composition and Communication, where he makes the case for creativity as a foundational and highly-sophisticated aspect of human cognition that proves hugely valuable within higher education and for composition in particular. In this presentation, I will outline some of the many merits of creative thinking instruction, moving toward a central point I consider particularly valuable for our understanding of the thinking that occurs within our writing communities: that creative thinking is not something that is instilled within our brains at birth, but rather is a collection of skills, habits and proficiencies that can be cultivated, refined and developed through instruction.  I will share from my own classroom experience instances in which creative thinking exercises proved valuable for student learning, as well as instances in which our attempts’ missed the mark and failed to stimulate much intellectual expansion.

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