Utne Reader July-August 98 (KM)

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"The Art of Genius: Eight Ways to Think Like Einstein," by Michael Michalko, Utne Reader July - August 1998, p. 73-76.

2nd Utne Reading and Reaction Paper by Kim McDonald

"When you find something interesting, drop everything and go with it." Michael Michalko concludes in the article from The Futurist that appeared in the July - August 98 Utne Reader. The Art of Genius: Eight Ways To Think Like Einstein, proved to be a simple and straightforward reminder to people in our society, educators not excluded, to break the cycles that entangle us. His research of notebooks, correspondence, and conversations of various great thinkers inspired eight thinking strategies utilized by geniuses. These strategies might provide the key for geniuses locked deeply inside themselves a means to experiment with their abilities rather than to fall victim to the curbs stifling their intellectual potential.

Michalko identifies the strategies that he believes assists' geniuses to think and produce as the following:

1. Geniuses look at problems from all angles.

2. Geniuses make their thoughts visible.

3. Geniuses produce.

4. Geniuses make novel combinations.

5. Geniuses force relationships.

6. Geniuses think in opposites.

7. Geniuses think metaphorically.

8. Geniuses prepare themselves for chance.

Reading the article immediately brought back classroom memories of analyzing literature like The Pearl or The Scarlet Letter, or interpreting poetry in high school. I recall reading and listening to the instructor analyzing the literature or poetry. I took the notes, studied the instructors' thoughts (my notes) and regurgitated the information onto a test. Questioning the instructors' thoughts usually made students feel as though they were ignorant or missed the entire point of the writing. There seemed to be no room for interpretation other than the exact interpretation. According to Michalko a genius would dare to question.

Michalkos article also made me think about children and the way they learn and explore at very early ages. Their learning mirrors many of the eight ways of thinkingat a simple level. What stifles this way of thinking? Could it be the way we live our lives in society? Our lives are now so very structured and complicatedchurch, preschool, Sunday School, school, activities, housekeeping, socializing, and volunteeringis there time to freely think and explore? It seems the answer is no, unless you are in preschool and not really even then! When you take a look at children who come out of homes where neglect has occurred you will often see a child who is not stifled into being told how to think. The child automatically makes decisions. The child may automatically questions how and why. They make their own decisions, good or bad. They learn the systems they learn what they need to learn to survive, and they learn it very well. Unfortunately they often are less successful in educational settings. Turning in assignments on time, at all or taking tests are a chore and hold little value for many of these individuals. Hence they are often not successful in our educational institutions.

I was speaking with a teacher just the other day about a friend and her artistic abilities. The womans talents go beyond that of most artists. The very first thing I noticed when viewing photographs of her work was her ability to look at her projects from very diverse angles. Next, she produced, and produced and produced she met all the eight criteria according to Michalko.

The teacher explained that her friends work was quite extraordinary moreover quite valuable. She also mentioned that was "what" she did. Her life revolves around her artistic creations. Visitors are expected to care for themselves if they were on a visit in her homemove things to sit and find food and drink. Her time was spent creating. She is oblivious to other distractions, such as entertaining, cleaning and feeding her guests.

In conclusion, it seems that Michalko allows the average individual to briefly identify themselves with geniuses. A genius apparently is an individual who devotes themselves to one particular field of study and avoids all other distractions. It seems that average people of average intelligence have one thing detouring them from being geniuses: time.

-- Anonymous, February 10, 1999

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