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This is from an article in Utne Reader July/Aug. '98, adapted from an
article in the May '98 issue of The Futurist
It's about studies that try to determine the thinking strategies of
geniuses. By studying the notebooks, correspondence, and conversations of
some of the world's great thinkers in science, art, and industry, scholars
have identified eight thinking strategies that enable geniuses to generate
1. Look at problems from all angles.
"To solve a problem creatively, you must abandon the first approach
that comes to mind, which usually stems from past experience, and
reconceptualize the problem. Geniuses do not merely solve existing
problems; they identify new ones."
2. Make thoughts visible.
"Einstein thought in terms of spatial forms, rather than along purely
mathematical or verbal lines. In fact, he believed that words and numbers
did not play a significant role in his thinking process.
" Edison held 1,093 patents... and gave himself idea quotas: one
minor invention every 10 days and a major invention every six months. Bach
wrote a cantata every week, Mozart produced 600 pieces of music...'
4. Make novel combinations
" Like playful children with buckets of building blocks, geniuses
constantly combine and recombine ideas, images, and thoughts. Einstein
didn't invent the concepts of energy, mass, or speed of light; he simply
combined them in a novel way."
5. Force relationships
"Their facility to connect the unconnected enables geniuses to see
things others miss.'
6. Think in opposites
"Geniuses...can tolerate ambivalence between two incompatible
subjects...if you hold opposites together in your mind, you will suspend
your normal thinking process and allow an intelligence beyond rational
thought to create a new form."
7. Think metaphorically
"Aristotle believed that the ability to perceive resemblances
between two separate areas of existence is a special gift."
8. Prepare yourself for chance
"Whenever we attempt to do something and fail, we end up doing
something else. That's the first principle of creative accident....the
creative accident leads to the question: What have we done? Answering that
one in a novel, unexpected way is the essential creative act. It is not
luck, but creative insight of the highest order."
So there it is, go teach it (I'M SMILING)
Seriously, the recently recommended Art Synectics and Design Synectics, by
Nicholas Roukes incorporates many of these thinking strategies. These are
excellent sources for exercise and project ideas.
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