Imaging: Sparks of Genius Challenge #3

“Close your eyes,” Dennis the Menace once said to a friend. “If you see anything, you’re thinking.” What's more, if you “hear,” “smell,” “taste,” or “feel” anything in the absence of direct sensory stimulation, that's thinking, too. Alongside words, we cogitate by means of a primary “language” of sensory impressions experienced within the mind. In short, we image.

Sparks of Genius Challenge #2: Non-Visual Observing

Observing is never a purely visual act. What we see is affected by what we have touched with our hands and felt within our bodies. The same goes, of course, for what we don’t see, but hear, smell or taste. By exercising non-visual forms of observing we heighten our attention overall.

Sparks of Genius Challenge #1: Visual Observing

Welcome to the Sparks of Genius Challenge. One tool at a time, we’re building imaginative muscle, exploring and expanding creative capacities. This month we focus on observing—an imaginative thinking skill good for all ages.

The Sparks of Genius Challenge

To exercise imaginative muscle you have to take on imaginative challenge. To nurture professional creativity you have to build on personal creativity. To prepare tomorrow’s thought leaders you have to encourage today’s inspired amateurs. We’ve said as much here in past years. Now we’d like to trade talk for action. Welcome to the Sparks of Genius Challenge!

Shop Courses, Crafts, and Creativity

A great deal of attention is paid to the adverse consequences of eliminating art, theater, dance and music programs from our schools – and rightfully so – but there is another set of classes that usually disappear at the same time: crafts. If we want to foster inventors, we’d better put those crafts classes back into everyone’s curricula, too!

Creativity Hiding in the Headlines

“Anglo Saxon Eye Remedy Kills Deadly Superbug.” It’s the kind of headline that is sure to attract anyone interested in ancient, complementary and alternative medicines, but why post it in a creativity blog? Well, if you haven’t guessed by now, creativity can hide anywhere, manifest itself in any field, and impart its lessons through any medium. So read on!

Tomas Tranströmer’s Avocational Polymathy

Scratch beneath the surface of just about any successful career in science, art, or human affairs and you’re sure to find wide-ranging interests. We’ve been scratching through the memoirs and biographies of Nobel Prize winners. No surprise, avocational polmathy, aka the several-hats tactic, turns up time and again. Tomas Tranströmer provides a case in point.

Physics and Poetry: A Polymath’s Creative Strategy

Where do successful individuals find inspiration and energy to do the things they do? Some may harbor their forces, focused on a single passion. Yet others take on multiple problems or even multiple careers. What? They let a hobby eat up their time? They split their energies between two careers? How does that enable success?

The Creative Inspiration of Worldplay

Inventing an imaginary world can be a boon to individuals working in the arts; in fact, the worldplay strategy has a long history of success.

Seven Strategies for Changing the World

What do you talk about when you talk at Korea’s TECH+ Forum, described as a series of “TED talks on steroids?” Why, the fundamental elements of creativity, of course!

Galway Kinnell and the Eating of Oatmeal

Poet Galway Kinnell was one of those rare and serious talents who come along only once or twice in a generation. And yet he was not above a certain down-to-earth whimsy tied to the playful invention of imagined people and places.
The Creative Investment of Worldplay

The Creative Investment of Worldplay

How can parents, educators, business leaders, and policy makers nurture creativity, prepare for inventiveness, and stimulate innovation? One compelling answer lies in fostering the invention of imaginary worlds, otherwise known as worldplay.

Collecting: A Connection between Playing and Learning

You don’t hear much about collecting in school now-a-days. But a century ago psychologists and educators took the collecting habit in children seriously – and pondered how to use it to advantage in the classroom.

Gifted and Talented People (and Programs) Need Help!

Many people believe that talent will out, that gifted students are invariably mature, motivated and focused enough to develop on their own. No way!

The Empathizing Dilemma, or Confessions of the Eagle-Cam Addict

Like many thousands of people, this spring we found ourselves obsessively watching a pair of eagles raise their young. Responding emotionally to the trials and tribulations of eagle life, we found ourselves smack dab in the middle of the empathizing dilemma.

The Collection Connection to Creativity

Do you collect anything? Coins? Stamps? Butterflies? Art? Fine wines? Could your hobby potentially make you more creative?

Teaching the Creative Process

Creativity is not a “you have it” or “you don’t” kind of thing. It isn’t a personality trait. It’s not a “one size fits all” habit of mind. It’s not, simply, a set of skills to test for or a roster of art classes. So what’s a society to do? Especially one committed to constant innovation?

Do Arts Teach Creativity?

Massachusetts and California want to mandate teaching creativity and testing for its outcomes. Maybe your state does, too. In our last post we challenged whether creativity can be taught. In this one, we challenge the measures these states intend to use to test for it.

Can Creativity Be Taught?

Many states have begun calling for tests of student creativity. The only reason to test for creativity in schools is to teach it. But can creativity be taught? We don’t think so….

What’s the Pattern?

What do babies, birders and a set of fictional folks faced with a do-or-die puzzle have in common? Once again, we tease out an imaginative thinking tool fundamental to human cognition and creativity.

From STEM to STEAM to STREAM: wRiting as an Essential Component of Science Education

Add the imaginative and creative skills acquired in writing to the learning of science, technology, engineering and mathematics and what do you get? Hint, if you need one: the creative capital of society depends on our answers. Really.

Intuition and the Logic of Sensual Thinking

Thinking in images and feelings is often dismissed as mere intuition. When a person "just knows" without the language to articulate how or why she knows, there may be difficulties in the boardroom-or the bedroom. But sensual thinking can be surprisingly "logical" as well as heart-felt. 

Artsmarts: Why Cutting Arts Funding Is Not a Good Idea

Congress is once again making plans to gut the National Endowment for the Arts, so it is time for us to post more data supporting the arts. In previous posts, we've argued that the arts are essential for the development of scientific imagination. Here we argue that the arts stimulate economic development by fostering invention. 

Writers, the Given Line and Not-Knowing

Many writers find inspiration in what has been called ‘la ligne donnée' or ‘the given line'. A few choice words, sometimes whole stanzas or paragraphs, come into the mind and a piece of writing begins its gestation. Does that mean we got the creative process wrong in our last post? 

Before Words: How to Think Like A Poet

Some years ago, in an interview with Bill Moyers, the poet Gary Snyder compared a vital aspect of writing to rummaging about in the sock drawer. "And that's how you write poetry?" Moyers asked. "Rummaging in the socks?" The exchange, short as it was, spoke volumes about how poets and writers think. 

A Step-By-Step Guide To Creative Behavior

How many of us have wished most fervently ‘to be more creative'? This New Year's, resolve ‘to behave more creatively' and your wish just might come true. 

So You Want to Write a Novel? In Your Dreams!

Who among us has not thought at one time or another that they have a great story to tell? Whether or not we ever put pen to paper, that story may be no more than the stuff of dreams-literally. For as novelist John Barth once said, "there is a kind of work involved in the making a dream which is not dissimilar to the making a story..." 

To Dream, Perchance to Create

Where do ideas come from? We wish we had the answer! The best we can do is to provide some strategies that seem to stimulate creative thought. One of them is what we call "purposeful dreaming."

Reading for Imaginative Play

All the times you read Goodnight Moon, all those hours you and your children spent together with Jim Hawkins in search of Treasure Island--were they worth it? Children immersed in books from an early age can become good readers. And good readers, recent research tells us, do better in school. But that's not the only reason to make a big deal out of books.

The Looming Reading Disaster: How Abandoning Children’s Picture Books Will Stifle Creative Imagination

The New York Times reports that children's book publishers are releasing fewer picture books for young readers because parents are pushing their kids into advanced text-only books at ever younger ages. We're appalled. Find out why.