August 12, 2011
Ok, ok, ok, I already know the complaints what will come with this title if a student ever decides to read my blog. Yes, I was a student at one time, and yes I realize that time is extremely limited for ‘fun’ reading (i.e. reading not required for classes). But if you do have the time I highly encourage you to browse the stacks, roam the isles, surf the listings for book titles that catch your interest. Talk to your friends, family, and teachers about what books they are currently reading and then ask to borrow their copy. It might be a fictional novel, it could be a non-fiction biography. But READ! As a student you must remember that you are busy grooming yourself for the real world. The real world that does not necessarily need a list of specific skills, but also creativity and ingenuity. I my opinion, the most creative ideas are those that connect seemingly unconnected ideas, best way to do this is to be an active reader both in your profession and in your personal interest areas.
I find that I am at my most creative when I am reading the works of other people. They present me with ideas and facts that I was not aware of. I then have a tendency to bring in my own knowledge and experiences to make sense of these new ideas and facts, and then I make some connection. This connection may be new, or it might simply be a little acknowledged area of study that if ripe for investigation. This is where great ideas can come from and for me professionally, where new research ideas emerge. I find my best ideas not when sitting alone in my office contemplating the next research question to ask; I find my most interesting ideas when attending conferences, speaking to colleagues, and reading my ‘for fun’ books over the summer.
I think most people have a need to be inspired by another person to be really creative (there is probably some research out there that supports this claim – guess I should go and read it – look yet another idea!). I believe that few of us are truly creative on our own (in other words coming up with something completely new on our own with no help). So as a student beginning your new semester, perhaps you will be asked to write a few papers. My advice to you is to READ AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE before you actually start writing (in my experience too many students do this backwards by first writing the paper and then finding the 2 sources to support their claims – you really need to do this the other way around)! Your prof might say you are required to have 2 sources (or 5 or 10)…you should actually be reading much more than that. You might not use them all in your paper, but those other resources will provide ideas, insights, and leads for you.
It is my firm belief that a well-read individual will profit from their leisure reading. So pick up or borrow a book or download something new to your Kindle and see just how creative you can be.