CentreTerm, the College’s three-week January term, gives students the opportunity to take one class exclusively, allowing for a deep exploration of the subject matter. One class for first-years gave students the freedom to gain a better understanding of the role of creativity in their lives.
The course, “Creativity: Weaving Patterns,” was taught by Stodghill Professor of Chemistry Jennifer Muzyka, Centre’s 2016-17 Creative Thinking Faculty Fellow. Through this fellowship, Muzyka is exploring different ways to integrate and assess creative thinking into the College’s curriculum—starting with her own CentreTerm class, during which students discussed creativity and then put it to work through fiber and bead weaving.
Students from all types of disciplines and prospective majors enrolled in the course.
“I was drawn to this class because it just sounded so different and interesting,” says Anna Samonds ’20.
Rachel Moore ’20 was intrigued by the class because it was a departure from some of the other courses she intends to take at Centre.
“I chose Dr. Muzyka’s class because it was totally unrelated to my intended major, biology,” Moore says. “I figured if I was going to be taking labs and other science courses over the next four years, why not learn about something completely different like weaving?
“I really enjoyed the way the class challenged my right brain and gave my left brain a break,” Moore adds.
Muzyka and the students met for an hour and a half in the mornings, during which time they discussed assigned readings that included “Wired to Create” by Scott Barry Kaufman and “The Creative Habit” by Twyla Tharp. That time also included activities Muzyka calls “fire writing,” a “stream of consciousness writing that can be considered a form of meditation,” she explains.
The afternoon sessions allowed the students to explore different weaving methods hands-on and learn from professional artists.
“Some activities dealt with weaving fabric or fibers. Other activities dealt with bead-weaving, both loom-based weaving and off-loom weaving,” Muzyka says. “In the first week, two days’ worth of activities were led by visiting artist Charlotte Hamlin, who [also] gave a convocation,” Muzyka says. “In the second week, [Visiting Assistant Professor of Biology] Amanda Falk’s mom, a retired art teacher, led us in an activity.”
For the first-year students in Muzyka’s class, CentreTerm was an entirely new experience, and they all enjoyed the freedom and intensity of taking only one course for three weeks.
“CentreTerm was a nice break from the pace of the first semester. Even though the class itself felt very quick-paced, being able to take just one course made the term in general seem more relaxed,” says Moore, adding, “The homework for the class didn’t even feel like work because the creative, imaginative, intuitive part of my brain has been so underused that I craved exploring this form of academics.”
Muzyka hopes that the course showed students that they can and do utilize that “creative, imaginative, intuitive” aspect of thinking in every part of their lives.
“I hope that my students have recognized that creativity and creative thinking are not confined to artistic fields but are important in all career fields,” she says. “I hope that my students have learned ways to enhance their creativity as well as how to get unstuck when they feel like they are in a rut. I also hope that my students learned to transfer their skills in reflection and metacognition to other courses they take at Centre.”
by Elizabeth Trollinger
February 2, 2017