UTNE Reader Project August 1998

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UTNE Reader Project August 1998

-- Anonymous, January 03, 1999


The Art of Genius by Michael Michalko; Utne Reader, August 1998, pp.73-76.

Learn to Think Creatively

Researchers and scholars have tried various ways of analyzing statistics and links between intelligence and geniuses, but nothing theyve found really tells us anything or can be substantiated. Michalkos article discusses being a genius as an individuals tendency to think productively vs. the more common type of thinking reproductively. Thinking reproductively involves reflecting on our prior knowledge of a particular subject, then choosing a carefully outlined process of achieving the solution. Productive thinking, on the contrary, is tackling a problem with the intention of not only solving it, but exploring all aspects and possible outcomes.

According to Michalko, some of the worlds greatest scholars have distinguished eight techniques that motivate people to think creatively like geniuses. Their contentions are that thinking creatively can be learned and is not dependent on I.Q. They also argue that using the following techniques can help people to become more creative in their work as well as their personal lives. First, a problem needs to be viewed in such a way that past solutions will not suffice. It needs to be visualized not only in a new way but in as many different ways as possible. Second, information needs to be presented in a way that makes it visually and spatially obvious to others rather than verbally explained. Tables, diagrams, charts, and drawings are examples of this. Third, producing needs to be an ongoing process. Not all creations will be of great value, but with perseverance, some will eventually. Fourth, continually blend all ideas, images, and thoughts. Fifth, being able to see connections between things when it isnt apparent. Sixth, being able to examine and understand these connections as far as similarities and differences. Seventh, being able to relate these connections to the abstract and the standard occurrence. Finally, the eighth technique is not to look at failure as an end to something, but as a new creation waiting to be explored. It is not good to become obsessed with your original plan and outcome. However it turns out, just work with what you have.

Today there is more emphasis for teachers to use higher order thinking skills in all subject matter. I agree with Michalko that our students need to be taught and encouraged to develop competent ways to think rather than taught what to think. To be able to read, memorize, and spew back material doesnt seem to be sufficient anymore. Not all of our students are destined to become geniuses, but I believe they are capable of achieving some of the processes involved in thinking creatively. Especially when teachers use effective techniques in unlocking a students thinking processes. In discussing this with colleagues we feel that some of the ways to accomplish this is to use techniques like asking open-ended questions, brainstorming, cooperative grouping, positive feedback, teaching research skills so students know where to find information, being more selective about our text books, more hands on activities, and activities in which students have to make decisions and then deal with the consequences.

In other words, productive thinking is the ability to look at the big picture and come to the realization that all situations and problems are structurally diverse. Thinking creatively is not the same thing as being a genius. A person can be far more creative than a genius and vice versa. In our fast-paced world where everything is continually changing, our perceptions and inferences had better become adaptable to change if we are to survive and prosper. Whether your a genius or just a very creative person the objective is not to waste time waiting for things to happen, make them happen.

-- Anonymous, January 04, 1999

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