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The article I read in the "UTNE Reader" issue, August 1998, was: "The Art of Genius: Eight ways to think like Einstein" by Michael Michalko.
Joy P. Guilford, psychologist and some others, who the article did not identify, "...have demonstrated, creativity is not the same as intelligence." (p.73). This result explains why past research attempts to connect intelligence and genius have not been 100% successful.
The article states that "normal" people, like you and me, think "reproductively". This is a process by which we sort through all that we've learned and experienced and then use what works for us to solve a problem. This process can cause stagnation because we don't seek all of the possible solutions. We quit after the solution is found. "If you think the way you've always thought, you'll get what you've always gotten." (p. 74)
Geniuses want to figure out several ways to look at and solve one problem. This process of thinking "productively" (p. 73) is one characteristic of a genius. On pages 75 & 76, eight thinking strategies used by geniuses to produce their own ideas and theories are listed. They are as follows: Geniuses 1. "...look at the problems from all anagles." (they don't "...merely solve exicting problems; they identify new ones.") 2. "...produce." 3. "...make their thought visible." 4. "...make novel combinations." 5. "...force relationships." 6. "...think in opposites." 7. "...think metaphorically." 8. "...prepare themselves for chance."
The "...first principle of a creative accident" (p.76) is when one tries to do something, fails and ends "...up doing something else." (p. 76) "When you find something interesting..." (p. 76), the advice offered to all is to stop, drop everything and take it (the new) and run with it.
Do we hinder too many "budding" geniuses by telling students that they can't find a solution any other way than how the textbook shows? Maybe we should enlighten all teachers on this topic so that they may be on the "look-out" for students with great potential and then encourage them as much as they can. I do think that curriculum and time constraints, as well as some of the teachers' attitudes will always be a hindrance to this encouragement. Am I too much of a pessimist?
-- Anonymous, January 02, 1999
Thanks for your synopsis of the article and your questions. It was a very interesting article; however, I think you're correct about time constraints and other things getting in the way of our nourishing genius. Moving 30 people through a particular curriculum is a gargantuan task -- and so often genius and other qualities probably get overlooked. I wonder how many geniuses are the product of public schools; how many from a tutorial situation; how many just had the interest and intellect to search and discover for themselves.
-- Anonymous, January 02, 1999
Sue, I enjoyed this article. I thought about the ways we might encourage the vast majority of students we have that are none geniuses to adapt some of these traits. They don't seem like they should be exclusive traits for the genius. Many of them are important life skills from which we all could benefit.
-- Anonymous, January 12, 1999
Sue - I thought your thoughts on this article were very thought provoking and no I don't believe you are too much of a pesimist. Our school system, by its very nature is constraining. Children are asked more often than not to produce a product in a specific fashion rather then insisting on creativity which I believe is another way of expressing what you know. We all have potential to be a geniuses if we only knew how to tap in on the things we need. And, yes, time is a huge problem.
-- Anonymous, January 15, 1999
Sue, I don't think you are too pessimistic but the reality of the situation is that teachers have to educate the masses and to do this we must teach in a way that reaches the majority of the students. Perhaps with our new govenor there will be money so schools can have smaller class sizes or special programs to help the "budding" geniuses.
-- Anonymous, January 17, 1999
I agree with you that within our curriculum and time constraints in the classroom we may be smothering the creative genius in our students. We should try to remember this in our own classrooms as well as sharing the information with our fellow teachers.
-- Anonymous, January 20, 1999
Hi Susan! This is Mary Chairs - the new discussion facilitator.
I liked your remarks - and I do not think you're a pessimist, perhaps realist is the right word. Our current system doesn't seem designed to cater to the genius, but more so to the norm. Your suggestion to enlighten other teachers seems viable. After all just knowing that there are different learning styles, and accepting that, may help to open doors for students that don't fit the mold. Did you discuss this with your colleagues? What was their response? Keep up the good work!
-- Anonymous, February 09, 1999