Heights Tribune-February 1992
by Bridgette Mongeon © 1992
Why is creativity so important in our lives? It is easy to see the role creativity plays in art, music, theater, poetry, and writing. However scientists also depend on it to enlighten them to new discoveries and mathematicians rely on creativity to assist them in problem solving. Even though our bosses appreciate our knowledge of the tools and process of our job, it is our creativity and insight that most employers relish.
Often when one first hears about creativity and the right brain, it sounds as if it is some spurt of mystical revelation or sci-fi movie plot. Scientific documentation about the functions of the two hemispheres of the brain go back as far as l836. The breakthrough in the understanding of the two hemispheres came in the 60’s. In the famous split brain operations the neural connections between the two hemispheres were severed in hopes of controlling epileptic seizures. The process was successful and enabled physicians to scientifically test the thinking abilities of each hemisphere separately. They discovered that each half of the brain has its own individual train of conscious thought and its own memories and that the two sides of the brain think in fundamentally different ways.
The examination of the unique characteristics of the hemispheres and their functions enable us to understand more clearly how to open ourselves up to the creative potential within us.
The left hemisphere is our more dominant side. In most people the Ieft hemisphere controls speech. It also analyzes, counts, marks time, plans step by step procedures, and makes rational statements based on logic. The right hemisphere dreams, understand metaphors, and imagines. It can also image things you know to be real (the layout of your kitchen). It sees how things exist and how the parts go together to make a whole. The right hemisphere can create a new combination of ideas.
Creativity in Education
Utilizing these different modes of thinking is imperative, not only to adults, but with children also. As one Iearns to manipulate the Ieft brain into allowing the right brain to handle more tasks, creativity comes. The more the road is traveled the easier it is to find. It is unfortunate that for the most part our educational system is based on the left hemisphere, with our teaching styles relying so heavily on the linguistics, tests, scores, rules, and multiple choice. We end up with children who are forced to not think, but are instead pressured to comply and perform. Einstein wrote “lt is nothing short of a miracle that the modern methods of instruction have not yet entirely strangled the holy curiosity of inquiry; for this delicate little plant, aside from stimulation, stands mainly in need off freedom; without this it goes to wreck and ruin without fail. It is a very grave mistake to think that the enjoyment of seeing and searching can be promoted by means of coercion and a sense of duty.”
Many children who require to learn in a different mode are often labeled learning disabled, hyperactive or worse. These children unable to conform, to the known educational process, are frequently tucked away in categories instead of discovering their individual learning styles.
Throughout history those noted as creative adults were difficult students, and found school boring. Einstein teacher stated, “He was a lazy dog and will never amount to anything! “Woody Allen viewed school as a waste of time, skipping for the movie house. Woodrow Wilson did not read until he was 11, Einstein was 8. Sculptor Auguste Rodin was described as the worst pupil in school. Freidrich Nietzche’s parents through him to be retarded. Teachers criticized Marcel Proust for writing disorganized compositions and Amy Lowell the poet was an atrocious speller. Photographer Ansel Adams in his autobiography, spoke of his conflict with institutional education in San Francisco just after the turn o f the century “… I was simply a matter of memorizing names, nothing about the process of memorizing or any reason to memorize. Education without either meaning or excitement is impossible. “
It is important to know that all children are gifted. Some children and adults may be born with talent but talent can be learned. There are many people who have an enormous amount of talent but lack the passion and excitement that the creative process offers.
Go to Hidden Genius: Part two