It’s August. With the start of school approaching, some teachers have started thinking about how they will organize their classrooms. Others are already going back to school. Somehow, they are all thinking about how to create a great learning environment. If they asked for my advice, I would suggest including a “Silenzio, Bruno” poster in their classroom.
Silenzio, Bruno! Is this sentence familiar to you? If not, you need to watch Luca, the most recent animated movie from Pixar. This movie brings a unique lesson to creativity. Don’t worry, I promise not to reveal any spoilers, but I need to explain what this sentence means. In one scene in the movie, Luca is afraid of trying something for the first time. His friend Alberto says, “I know your problem. You have a Bruno in your head. Don’t listen to him. Shut him up. Say, ‘Silenzio, Bruno!’ In the movie, saying “Silenzio, Bruno” is a way of naming and thereby taming this fear. This sentence became Luca’s mantra, and he repeated this sentence every time he needed to be brave.
The Voice of Fear
‘Bruno” is the voice of fear, that inner voice that constantly tells us what not to do. When we are doing things for the first time and entering an unknown area, it’s natural that fear shows up. However, fear can be one of creativity’s worst enemies, and it can even kill creativity. Fear prevents us from going further, trying new ways of doing things, being original, exploring new possibilities, and extending the boundaries.
In the book, Creativity, Inc., Catmull talks about how Pixar built a creative culture. He highlights that people avoid taking risks and will keep repeating what they already know when they are in a fear-based and failure-averse culture. However, “if you create a fearless culture (or as fearless as human nature will allow), people will be much less hesitant to explore new areas, identifying uncharted pathways and then charging down them.”
A Fearless Culture in Our Classrooms
If we want to have a learning environment that promotes creativity, we need to create a fearless culture in our classrooms. First of all, we need to activate the ability to “being aware of our emotions.” Allowing students to recognize and communicate their emotions can help them realize that, although fear can be an enemy, they can defeat it.
Building a creative environment involves finding ways to silence the “Brunos” that we all have in our heads: the fear of trying some new, of not having our ideas accepted, of being judged, of making mistakes, of failing. To do that and develop our creative confidence, we need to have a safe space where teachers and students can explore, experiment, collaborate, make adjustments, improve, and learn.
Modeling the Way
Catmull mentions that we need to understand that “the unpredictable is the ground on which creativity occurs.” Therefore, as educators, we also need to tolerate ambiguity by embracing some uncertainties and helping our students do the same. We also need to take risks by trying new and creative approaches in our classrooms and encouraging students to try new things and express their ideas.
In this fearless environment, we make room to cultivate curiosity, imagination, flexibility, playfulness, openness, and many other ingredients that will make our classroom much more creative.
- Emotional awareness is crucial to creativity. Please encourage students to identify, name, and talk about their emotions by intentionally incorporating activities in which students can do that.
- It is essential for students to feel safe trying new things and experimenting with new approaches. Consider modeling this to your students by saying, “I will try a new activity today. Let’s see how it goes.”
- Help students develop their creative confidence by asking them to make small attempts to get quick feedback, make adjustments if needed, and feel successful.
Luciane Bonamigo Valls has more than 20 years of experience with children, teenagers, families, and educators. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and three Graduate Certificates (Educational Psychology, Educational Management, and Creativity and Change Leadership). In 2021, Luciane completed her Masters in Creativity at SUNY Buffalo State, where she received the Mary Murdock Creative Spirit Award.
Originally from Brazil, Luciane has been living in the USA since 2012. She develops workshops and courses about creativity and also works with teachers and school administrators to bring creative thinking into schools. She recently published a book in Brazil called “Criatividade Contagiante,” which discusses how schools can nurture creative thinking.
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