Google+ bakers and astronauts: Daydreaming and Sweat : Imagine, Chapters Two and Three

13 August 2012

Daydreaming and Sweat : Imagine, Chapters Two and Three

Chapters Two and Three of Imagine continue to focus on the creativity we can have as individuals; especially innovation and problem solving.  With these chapters, we learn about mind wandering, divergent and convergent thinking (and the parts of the brain responsible), conceptual blending, and the myth of the "creative type".

Lehrer suggests that humans are "an absent-minded species, constantly disappearing down mental rabbit holes" (p. 45).  We daydream, we let our minds wander.  And Lehrer is trying to share that this is a good thing: by letting our minds wander, we are allowing "the brain [to] blend together concepts that are normally filed away in different areas.  The result is an ability to notice new connections, to see the overlaps that we normally overlook" (p. 46).

The implications for play, I think, are hard to miss here.  Fostering a creative environment that not only engages children visually, but also mentally, might promote mind wandering.  When I think of children's play, though, I'm not sure we need to find ways to allow them to do it, because they are often playing out fantasies and scenes that require quite a bit of imagination without much help from us.  Perhaps I'm trying to share that daydreaming is much like open-ended fantasy play.  What do you think?

To touch upon Chapter Three, I found myself thinking more about the teaching process as I read about "unconcealing".  This is a far cry from those "aha!" moments, those moments of insight, that we read about in the first chapter.  Unconcealing is not an easy process.  We think and try and concentrate: "this kind of creativity consists mostly of sweat, sadness, and failure" (p. 83).

With the teaching and planning process, especially with inquiry based work and long term projects (as opposed to short lived themes), we, as teachers, are constantly needing to dive back in after that anthropologist phase of observation, think and plan and create, and come back out for yet again another anthropologist phase.  We throw away a lot of ideas along the way, and there are moments when we feel that it is helpless, and that we should guide the children towards a different topic!  We look longingly at other people's classrooms and projects and scrutinize out own work.

But we can feel ourselves getting warmer, and "this ability to calculate progress is an important part of the creative process" (p. 82).  You know what it feels like when you get closer to a solution, and all those photos and notes start to make sense.

We want to foster creativity, and we need to be creative in our own work as well.  How does Lehrer suggest we might do that?

I'm looking forward to our discussion!  Please feel free to break from what I've shared above...I'm sure there are many more ideas than the ones I've proposed above.

We are reading Imagine : How Creativity Works by Jonah Lehrer this month.  For more information on the read-along, you can see the discussion schedule here.

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