Long and boring roads can become ephemeral and creative
Vera, a native of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, studied Psychology and has a Master Degree in Education.
In 1984, she was recruiting and hiring people at TV Globo when she asked to present a new strategic process for another group at the company. The director of human resources, impressed with her performance, decided to send her to ILACE to learn new creativity techniques, “You won’t regret it,” he said.
This was her first contact with the Creative Problem Solving model as it was created by Alex Osborn and Sidney Parnes of Buffalo. Though she had some difficulty understanding it at first as a participant of ILACE’s program in Brazil, she decided to teach CPS in Brazil. She loved the methodology that insisted that everyone could be (or become) creative.
At one point a young man in his middle twenties came to Vera asking for help. He was designer having a really hard time in the field and it was an incredibly depressing situation. He wondered aloud to her if he had chosen the wrong profession. He felt lost and had no idea what his talent in the field could possibly be. He came to her house and what stood out to Vera when she was doing some data collection, was that he had a real interest in arts and crafts she had around her house.
They decided to set a series of appointments to take the time to explore his world and determine what the problem could be. In the first meetings he was consumed with his depression and the very real possibility that he needed therapy, but that it was so expensive, “It’s so expensive!” He remarked. While they were in the clarification stage of the process they used the five “W’s” and one “H” (What, where, when, why, which and how) to clarify his overall vision of where he wanted to be because his vision was blurry. As part of the process, Vera took him to several arts and crafts centers and he was excited about the experience. This then inspired him to do research about the different crafts. Soon he was asking to take pictures of her home and created a framework for a design project.
She also gave him the contact information for a psychological center where he could get help for very low prices. He soon started getting therapy. Soon after, Vera was presenting a Thinking Skills Model creativity session at the local university and she invited him to join the presentation and he accepted.
Now, rather than being defeated by what he saw as inadequacies in his design abilities, he is powered by his passion to catalog the design innovations behind local arts and crafts. He told Vera that his creative life wasn’t just a workshop, it was an investment in the future and never knew that creativity could help him so much. No longer a slave to his depression, his understanding about how he was thinking was actually getting in his way of success, what was once his biggest liability is now his greatest asset. “I never thought about creativity that way.” He confided in Vera.
In six months, she was invited to join the facilitator’s team of ILACE and in 1990 the first facilitators of Creative Education Foundation came to Brazil to share their facilitation experiences and help the Brazilians develop some new skills. That was the year she met Dr. Jo Yudess. From there budded a life-long friendship when Dr. Yudess became her creativity mentor.
1992 the first-year Vera went to the Creative Problem Solving Institute (CPSI). She met Dr. Sid Parnes and Dr. Ruth Noller in person. She was stunned to see so many people from all over the world who had the same desire to use CPS at in their personal lives. For many, the conference is an emotional and life-changing experience, and it was at that time that Vera decided to make help others find their own creative power.
Through her attendance at CPSI she was able to join the leadership team and expand her network of creativity professionals doing the cutting edge work in the creativity field.
Vera kept copious notes on all her experiences and facilitation techniques. She also compiled her own application of CPS in companies and schools as well as in her own life. Over the years, the CPS model evolved into the Thinking Skills Model and she immediately adopted and worked with groups so she could see if there was any difference in group results compared with the original model.
She noticed there were amazing differences. In her view the new model introduced new skills, and new kinds of thinking. Perhaps the most interesting aspect was how the concept of Metacognition (thinking about thinking) was integrated in such a way that it made the philosophy of “deliberate creativity” come alive.
In pursuit of a more academic exploration of creativity, she wrote her 2014 Master of Education thesis, “The use of CPS:TSM to develop teaching material to Distance Learning Programs.” (Need a link here)
These days, Vera works as a creativity and innovation consultant. She also contributes on to research studies at the Tiradentes University in Aracaju, Brazil where she received her Masters Degree. She consults regularly with her colleagues there and in the Creativity community in Brazil and Internationally. Regular interaction keeps the field progressing as ideas and best practices are shared.
The journey, from 1984 to 2017 seems like a long one. When it is filled with creativity, dreams and that imagination becomes a part of real life and those dreams come true, then the pathway beautiful and brimming over with rewards.
That´s why, at 71, Vera can live creatively and keep making positive contributions to society. Creativity is not a miracle, and to be a creativity facilitator is a lifelong process a source of continual renewal.