This young man - call him Sam - took our class to "rediscover" his creativity. In his first year of college he had written a chart-topping rock song for a well-known band. But in the attempt to come up with an encore, he found himself suffering from a profound case of composer's block. He wanted us to remove it.
We didn't. He did. And not because of something we taught him, but because of something he learned about himself by taking the class. As part of the curriculum, we required each student to learn a new skill or craft, to take up a new hobby. Our point was to force them to become aware of their personal creative processes and to compare them with their expectations and beliefs. Sam learned that he had fallen prey to the "Mozart myth".
The Mozart myth goes something like this. Some people are born with talent so tremendous that music and other cultural products spring from their minds fully-fledged, as if by magic. Mozart, so the myth goes, would compose his symphonies in one sitting with nary a revision through a single act of inspiration. The more generalized myth, popularized by writers such as Arthur Koestler, is that all creative people work this way.
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