By Kris Teubel
The practice of creative arts can be such a mysterious thing. Mathematics and the sciences, being more observable and quantifiable in nature, can be more easily explained in many circumstances. There are always outliers. To those studying quantum mechanics and non-Euclidean geometry, I tip my hat to you. For those of us who are more familiar with using our right brain, the creation of aesthetics and qualitative elements can easily be the masters of our craft one day, and the next, completely at a loss as to why we can't get our creation to find its momentum.
The folks at brainhealth.utdallas.edu have provided us a great article that may help to shed some light on our dilemmas. Our friends in the science corner of the room have taken a look into the biological nature of our imaginations and how it relates to education. Though the research noted focuses on adolescents, much of the information could be applied to more advanced age groups.
Researchers currently point toward the frontal lobes of our brains as a major player in the creative process. According to Dr. Sandra Bond Chapman, Ph.D., “Our brain’s frontal lobes are inspired by newness and creating novel ideas, and research has shown that adolescent reasoning and innovative problem solving skills across America have stagnated in recent decades.”(Chapman Ph.D., 2011) With this general stagnation comes a higher need to understand what the underlying processes are when one undertakes a creative process. With the ever pervasive nature of the globalized economy, individuals and countries alike ought do what they can to stay competitive.
One of the more evident culprits of this cognitive dilemma is the idea that, regardless of socioeconomic levels, students don't seem to be creatively engaged in grade and high school. The three more elemental aspects of creative thinking are strategic attention, integration of information, and creative processing. One must be able to recognize important information pertaining to the problem at hand in order to successfully reach an optimal outcome. They must also understand how to use the given and interpolated information to create a positive outcome. A tool of any kind is useless with the knowledge of how to use it. Last, one ought to have the capacity to problem solve creatively. This is the key to producing optimal solutions versus an acceptable one ("Brainhealth teen reasoning," 2013) .
Doctor Chapman and her colleagues are making great strides with their efforts into understanding how educators can promote higher levels of creative thinking. They currently are managing a program called the Strategic Memory Advanced Reasoning Training (SMART). It focuses on cognitive neuroscience principles in order to learn how to best engage our frontal brain networks. The goal is to build strategic thinking, problem solving skills, and advanced reasoning (The Center for BrainHealth, 2011). These and other principles help to build one's mental flexibility and to promote healthier brains.
As Einstein, a master of thought experiments, once said: “Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.” (Chapman Ph.D., 2011)
Chapman Ph.D., S. B. (2011, July 19). [Web log message]. Retrieved from http://www.brainhealth.utdallas.edu/blog/bringing-imagination-back
Brainhealth teen reasoning initiative. (2013). Retrieved from http://www.brainhealth.utdallas.edu/index.php/research/research_topic/brainhealth-teen- reasoning-initiative
The Center for BrainHealth. (2011, March 30). [Web log message]. Retrieved from http://www.brainhealth.utdallas.edu/index.php/blog/what-is-smart