How reading affects creativity and critical thinking ! | Hana Saleh | TEDxMisurata

How reading affects creativity and critical thinking ! | Hana Saleh | TEDxMisurata


Translator: jonathan oleg
Reviewer: Tanya Cushman (Arabic) Peace be upon you. (Audience) (Arabic)
Peace be upon you. I was 17 when I finally
came back to Libya for good. Growing up in Switzerland, I believe the worst thing
that I found really challenging as a kid was how to spell the word “Switzerland.” Even now, decades later,
as an assistant lecturer, I still despise writing that word. On my phone, I entered
this word in shortcuts, using the English transliteration
of “Sweesra,” which is the Arabic version, and it would automatically
write it for me, so thank goodness for technology. There’s so many daunting words
in almost all languages, either because of their spelling
or because of their meaning per se, but still, that’s not an excuse
for us to not learn them. Life is a school, they say, and there are various elements that contribute
to the formation of knowledge. Early on in life, we learn
initially from our parents, but for certain mundane reasons,
they just can’t give it all. And that’s perhaps
why we need to go to school – in order to learn from other individuals
who specialize in this field or that. Therefore, our language skills
are established by means of absorbing the words
that float out of coarse materials and the mouths of our teachers. With words we speak, and through speaking, we express ourselves
and communicate with each other. But not all of us are gifted speakers. I for one am not an outspoken person, especially when it comes to expressing
my inner thoughts and true emotions. As a child, I was a very shy person,
especially with strangers, and no sooner, I found comfort in writing. In junior high school, I wrote
a short composition about my childhood, and at the end of that day, I discovered that my teacher actually read
that piece to almost half the school. He later on told me that my career would definitely
have something to do with writing, and even at that time,
I had a pretty good feeling that it would. In high school is when I actually started
to read full-length novels. My first classic novel
was written by Louisa May Alcott, “Little Women,” followed by contemporary works,
namely Mills & Boon’s. When I was 14,
I was obsessed by comic books, like almost any other teenager. I used to read Nabil Farouk. He’s the writer of “Adham Sabri:
The Man of the Impossible.” I also used to read the Archie comics. I was inspired by the character
of Betty Cooper to write diary entries, and I still do so till now. When I started college, I discovered that there was a sort
of lacking in my writing techniques, namely in organization, sentence structure and also focus. Now at that point,
I thought I had been an avid reader, and that shouldn’t be a problem for me. But that actually urged me
to change my approach towards reading. I started reading as a student, which means not just reading for pleasure but also learning the tricks
of the trade from the masters. With further motivation
by my late colleague and mentor, Mrs. Sabah Kareem – God bless her soul – I decided to do
my masters degree in writing, and by the end of 2010, I received my degree in writing
for performance and publication from Leeds University. I had the greatest chance there of exploring my ability
in writing short stories as well as writing for stage and screen. Creative writing honors imagination, so why does it seem
like a secluded area or zone that we hardly delve into in order to give it the space
to thrive and to flourish? Allow me now to talk about my experience
teaching creative writing here, in Libya. And I say Libya as a whole because I believe this is an issue that prevails
in almost all regions here in Libya: the problem of learning
a foreign language and actually using it. In early 2010, shortly after I came back from the UK, I introduced creative writing
for the first time in Misurata University. I was so excited about the whole thing, but apparently, the students weren’t. Only one student
enrolled for that semester. And therefore the course
had to be canceled. But the next semester was quite promising; I had 11 students – not bad – followed by 50, and then a whopping 80 at one semester. Now, for creative writing,
the number of students can be problematic, especially if they are crammed
in a classroom of 35 students or so. The real difficulty, however,
is when you realize that they actually don’t get it. So how’s that? Regardless of the many occasions
in which they come to me quite frankly and say, “We hate writing.” I believe the dominant reasons
behind this hatred, in their opinion, is because “I don’t know how to write,” and “Why should I? I don’t have to.” So “How do I write?”
versus “Why should I write?” Now, with regards to the first question,
I will not touch upon illiteracy, because definitely, anybody who has been through
a considerable amount of schooling would definitely know
how to put pen to paper. With creative writing,
I am dealing with writing short stories. And for that, you will need
to come up with ideas. Normally, ideas come from inspiration, and the thing that seems to hinder
my students is limited muse. They have confined, or limited, themselves into a very limited, basically, range of topics and themes, let alone a list of inadequate
words to choose from. Now, personally, I’m not very talented
in creating or conducting surveys, but according to my experience
teaching creative writing for three years, I believe the dominant topics and themes
that I have come across are as follows: So we have five columns. We’ll start with poverty, poverty as a means
to actually lead the main character to take up jobs that are quite demeaning. For example, he has to cook in a kitchen, or he has to be a house cleaner, or maybe he becomes a thug. The second one – which is quite popular
by the girls, by the way – marriage. The main character
has to leave the one she loves in order to, you know, marry someone else who is either richer or has some kind
of higher influence in society. Cancer seems to be the winning ailment whenever there is a chance for them to talk about someone
who gets ill and later on dies. So this is the easiest way,
the easiest route, towards death. And then car accident. This is quite surprising to me because every time
they want to kill the parents, they have them killed in a car accident. Social disputes are namely inheritance, the ever-evil uncle and the love triangles
that happen at school. Now, some of you might think
that this is actually fine given the students’ background. It actually is fine because people tend to write
about things that they know truly well. But the problem is when they write
about things or stories they believe is what other people
expect from them. This is where the limitation lies. Now, imagine, if we go back to this box, imagine this is the structure
of our culture – these five columns – incredibly limited, and at the same time,
it really gets tiring when you’re subject to it every semester. There was this one semester
when I firmly announced to my students, “Please don’t kill the parents
in a car accident. If you don’t want them in the story,
then just keep them home, safe and sound, and then move on
to something worthy of telling.” We need to think
outside this cultural box. A foreign colleague of mine once said, “We’re dealing with students
who haven’t really experienced life.” And he was right. How can we expect creativity from students whose experience range is probably
three out of five of these columns? That is when we need
to put a book in one’s hand. Reading not only makes you
become a better writer: Through living the lives
of fictitious characters, we learn from how they deal
with abnormal circumstances and learn from their mishaps. We also delve into the various
cultures of life, of the world, and there’s our free ticket: we have successfully broadened our minds, and we’re practically ready
for the extraordinary. So if we go back to this box and imagine that we have students who have read books that actually relate
to these topics and themes, What are the possibilities, what are the creative possibilities
that they will be able to present? So here we have the five topics
that I mentioned earlier, the five things that seem to be on repeat, and examples of novels
that deal with these themes. “The Hunger Games” is a very good example
that talks about poverty, by Suzanne Collins. The main character
is forced to enter a tournament where contestants actually
kill each other in order to win. There’s an idea. The second one, “Pride and Prejudice,” by Jane Austen. Now, this is a novel that’s been written
almost 200 years ago, two centuries ago. The thing that makes it long lasting
and still alive is because – I mean for this specific
topic of marriage – is because the main character,
Elizabeth Bennet, actually opposed social code. Imagine that happening back then. “My Sister’s Keeper” has brilliant issues
or cases of health issues, by Jodi Picoult. We have more than one, which is cancer. We have acute promyelocytic leukemia, which is blood and bone marrow cancer. We also have drug abuse in this novel
and a case of epilepsy. I will not comment on the car accident:
please don’t kill the parents. So, moving on to social
disputes, the last one, “In the Country of Men,”
written by our very own Hisham Matar. Here we have a story about political chaos that actually affected a domestic life as a result to what was going on
here in Libya back in the ’70s. So, before I move on, I’d like to quickly acknowledge
some of the previous works of my students who have been able to come up
with extremely creative stories. One student wrote a story
about an American who converted to Islam after living among a group
of Tuaregs here in Libya. A second good example is –
one of the students wrote about the struggle of a man who’s trying to flee
the Rwandan Civil War in the early ’90s. The third example
I’d like to present to you is about a creature
who’s created from mist, and he’s the last of his kind and the only one who’s able
to stand in the face of evil. This was written by the translator
that’s translating to you, by the way. So, going back to those two questions. How do I write
now that we’ve read, now that we’ve broadened our minds? Well, of course, you need to start reading books
that might be of interest to you and for authors who are actually – whose style of writing
you find interesting. And then you start putting pen to paper. You scribble. You draft. You redraft, maybe 100 times. And then you’re done. The second question – why should I? Well, actually you don’t have to write unless you’re one of my students – then you just have to do it. Storytelling is an art; it allows you to translate
your inner thoughts and perhaps your philosophy in life. And that’s actually why
people enjoy reading. There’s a literature
that needs to be conveyed for generations to coexist and intertwine. I’d like to conclude
with a quote by Elif Shafak, the author of “The Forty Rules of Love.” Okay. “Isn’t connecting people to distant lands
and countries and cultures one of the great strengths
of good literature?” Indeed, it is. So let’s start thinking outside that box. Thank you. (Applause)

97 thoughts on “How reading affects creativity and critical thinking ! | Hana Saleh | TEDxMisurata

  1. I can't take her seriously because she is wearing a head scarf and she might do something illegal that is not AMerican I support Donald Trump!

  2. Super! proud to be your student ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. An amazing speech.
    Miss Hana. Creative writing was a wonderful experience with the guidance and inspiration from a gorgous teacher. May Allah bless you.

  4. Awesome speech miss Hana. proud to be one of your studentsโœŒ๐Ÿป๏ธ

  5. masha allah …..awesome;

  6. We like you Mis Hana ๐Ÿ‘

  7. well done Ms. Hana achievement accomplished !

  8. well done Ms. Hana achievement accomplished !

  9. Well done Ms.Hana ,may Allah bless you

  10. well done

  11. ๐Ÿ‘

  12. AWESOME !!!! LOVED IT <3 THINK OUT OF THE SOCIAL BOX
    ROGER THAT

  13. How sure are we that an elitist way of thinking hasn't been lodged in her ?

  14. How about confronting the obvious ideas? The parents live and the children die. The evil uncle gets no inheritance, while the poor kids do. The main character carries a cure for cancer in his DNA. These all sound like brilliant premises for typically good short stories.

  15. It is heartbreaking to see such a bright mind and sensitive soul so oppressed under the unshapely folds and dark colours of the wraps of obscurantism and male supremacy.

  16. I couldn't watch someone wearing hijab and speaking about critical thinking.

  17. Hard to take a religious zealot seriously ,especially concerning critical thinking and creativity.

  18. Despite what she says but some commentators reveal that the people of the first country in the world as they claim, are stupid and racist . Thanks Ms Hana you are great person

  19. A great talk!

  20. You can start from minutes 12, you are welcome.

  21. Could see she was nervous and attempted to remember her speech. Nonetheless, fantastic message!

  22. Native speaker ???

  23. Lovely, from a CEO lucky enough to have studied under a Nobel Prize laureate in literature: ย I have a cultural venture led by a Libyan and American team, when peace comes. Read Lila Abu Lughod's work on the veil, a brilliant classmate of ours, who has taught us so much. ย Please forgive the ignorance of the presumed Americans, as they are not typical. ย Maryam

  24. Excellent talk!

  25. critical thinking, really?

  26. She is so so so beautiful ๐Ÿ˜ and the way she conveyed the lecture was so gentle and perfect โค

  27. Wonder if she has read the bible.ย  I would like for her to try that and see if she believes.

  28. your students sound really childish

  29. i liked her speech , keep going hana

  30. One of the best that ive ever listened, so impressed

  31. Anyone who wants to write, must read!

  32. what can i say ? a very talented speaker , i remember her from two English sessions
    i'd attended with her in 2013 as far as i can remember

  33. Yawn.

  34. Hello everyone. I believe an illiterate warlord living circa the year 600 suddenly had revealed the ultimate truth of the universe to him at age 40. Here are my thoughts on critical thinking.

  35. Good intiative and informative.

  36. Critical Thinking? While wearing a tent and believing in the most violent religion there is today. The cognitive dissonance must be enormous ๐Ÿ˜‚

  37. Unprecedented

  38. Hunger games Is a horrible story written by the daughter of a zionist who is the enemy of muslims!

  39. Really motivational

  40. She is so beautiful ,dose she have social media ?

  41. great speech thank you

  42. Dear management,
    i want to request you, please try to add subtitles.

  43. that was nothing extraordinary

  44. I am very happy for listening her lecture very wonderful
    I learn so may things from her,

  45. I want to be your student!!!๐ŸŒธ๐ŸŒธ๐ŸŒธ

  46. an amazing speech, I really respace what you have talked about

  47. Maashaa Allah…

  48. Well done what a symbol of dignity!!!!

  49. sweetsaland

  50. this is not about creative writing.
    I think it is about critical thinking!

  51. Nice accent! I am proud of you indeed.

  52. MashaAllah,,,, Great lecture,,,, Wish I were your Course Student.

  53. lecture was good but the points conveyed seemed vague !

  54. Sweet accent, sweet lady. I wanna be your student…

  55. An amazing and wonderful speech

  56. Wonderful speech. Keep it up. MashaAllah.

  57. how can you claim you read so many books and still appearing like that, enslaved with no dignity as messianic woman in an misanthropic religion? Education Knowledge or books should liberate humans not enslave them into slavery and darkness

  58. Hana's talk is very interesting! Really the inhibitions the real problems most of the students in teens. very slow to comprehend. Teachers must watch and Change their opinions that they are not interested and make a real motivation with persevirence.Mohanasundaram Muthusamy Uppidamangalam Karur India

  59. very nice

  60. Nothing is Impossible if you have strong Faith in your self . Many of life Failures are Experienced by the people Who did not Realize How close they were to success when they gave up."
    Have a Blessed day.Hope you are fine .. I like your creative work as creative writer with my deep inspiration i am agreed with you ideas comes with inspiration. you have got smart creative Leadership Qualities and Creative writer .. . please kindly send me your some good informative Lectures all about creative writing ideas sharing and YOUR CREATIVE THOUGHT PROVOKING VISION . with Best Regards

  61. You are very beautiful ๐Ÿ˜.. BTW amazing speech

  62. Hey it was nice and plain.. dint feel a plod or longdrawn out one. Quite sensful thought about reading and make the communication strong which is one of the stumbling blocks for students. That nice worthy work u doin.. reaming books and making others to take an intrest in so world take from the booty of literature…

  63. Awesome. Love it.

  64. good speeech manshaAllah hana

  65. Masha Allah… Proud of u hana

  66. very inspiring speech ,i'd really like it and the way you deliver it,thnx.

  67. it is good

  68. Thank you for your speech,it inspire me to think outside of the box instead of staying in my comfort zone:)

  69. True..some students cant write well because they really havent faced anything in life or the real world atleast. Emotions are very important to be able to write well. If nothing,love for language.

  70. Very good, excellent eye opener. Would like to get some other experiences too when it comes to creativity. Thank you

  71. Masha Allah

  72. Agreed.

  73. Fascinating, what great work you are doing!

  74. ู…ุง ุดุงุก ุงู„ู„ู‡

  75. grate
    >>>>

  76. Ummm… boring.

  77. ู…ูˆูู‚ุฉ ุฃุฎุชูŠ ุงู„ู…ุณู„ู…ุฉ

  78. Super

  79. Seriously! creativity and critical thinking? by wearing a Hijab and practicing a religion seriously in a west land without knowing is it really required to wear a Hijab/Burka in 21 st century. you've spoken well but I doubt there is no point of critical thinking here. anyways, Nice speech, I'm not against any religion but a serious religious person can never be a critical and creative thinker.
    Peace!

  80. Masha Allah

  81. Loved your voice and accent โค

  82. Great!!

  83. booooring !!!

  84. Great mam May Allahtala bless u ….loads of love from Kashmir

  85. No doubt she is beautiful but Masha Allah Hijab making her more beautiful than others here..

  86. I have not watched it but if you guys think and says it's so good then ill try it๐Ÿ˜‡๐Ÿ’œ๐Ÿ’“๐Ÿ’”๐Ÿ’•๐Ÿ’–๐Ÿ’—๐Ÿ’˜๐Ÿ’โค๐Ÿ’™๐Ÿ’š๐Ÿ’›๐Ÿ’ž๐Ÿ’Ÿ sorry I just really love and like hearts and also angels๐Ÿ˜‡๐Ÿ˜‡๐Ÿ˜‡๐Ÿ˜‡๐Ÿ˜‡๐Ÿ˜‡

  87. Hello Mam, ur speech is excellent as it is beautiful ur face and the point you mentioned about creative writing, it is just writing a story in the sequence, what you thought about an episode…
    Either it is imaginary or life experience..

  88. You look like a truly follower of Islam. you would like to cover yourself in dress of Islam that is totally definition of Muslim. thank you for giving a encouragement speech to us. I want to see you on so high stage. May Almighty Allah help yoy to achieve your goal.

  89. i dont understand why some one would cover her head with a blanket to prove that she is a decent . all this reading didnt make u a bit smarter ?

  90. I want to learn English. can you help me

  91. Very thought provoking speech, dear Hana Mam.

  92. Thank you very much for this talk ! It was very insightful .

  93. What a joke! An opressed by islam puppet standing with all body hide with religious dogma clothes speaks that reading affects creativity and critical thinking… First of all try read quran with critical thinking girl!

  94. Alguรฉm legenda???

  95. She thanks a god lol

  96. Wonderful magnanimous speech!! I love the way you put things forward may uh live long

  97. Anyone knows what 2 groups she mentioned at 16:10? I cannot hear the name of them.

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