19 Apr 2015

Passion no guarantee of creativity

From STEAM Ahead, 4:06 pm on 19 April 2015

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Julie Maxton cropJulie Maxton, Executive Director of the UK’s Royal Society, feels that passion for one’s work is an essential part of the makeup of the successful scientist. “It might be described in some quarters as obsession, as opposed to passion,” she comments, but she is convinced that it’s impossible to operate at the top of the world of science without being utterly passionate.

She considers that there are other distinctions one can make about the way in which creativity plays out between artists and scientists, but that passion is common to both.

By contrast, Professor Bruce Sheridan of Columbia College’s film school is not so sure. It’s not that he altogether disagrees with the notion, but he does think that passion is too easy a word to throw around, “partly because it’s so easy to use colloquially.”

Bruce SheridanHe cites current research about creativity, and asks if we are talking about motivation or reward? “There is great work that is done,” he says, “by people who from the outside don’t look as though they are passionate, or doing it passionately. There’s also a lot of work that is labelled creative because it was done passionately that just disappears into the ether, and has no lasting value in the culture.”

Listen to Steam Ahead, a lively panel discussion chaired by Noelle McCarthy about the role of creativity in the development of knowledge and ideas, and what connects the arts and science.

This recording was made by Radio New Zealand in association with the Creative Thinking Project (based at the University of Auckland), the Auckland Art Gallery and the Auckland War Memorial Museum.