VIEWS: 175 PAGES: 47 POSTED ON: 8/6/2011
1 INNOVATION EDUCATION WITH COLLABORATIVE LEARNING Allen Green www.greenplanning.org 1. Liberating Learning: Hole In The Wall 2. Learning for AHA! (Alpha Climbs) 3. Feeling Flow and Aesthetic Resonance 4. Tapping General Genius 5. Escaping The Cave 6. Using Multiple Intelligence 7. Teaching The Whole Brain 8. Learning with Constructivism 9. Observing by Drawing 10. Thinking With Visuals 11. Grasping Seven Graphics 12. Making Mind Maps 13. Adapting Attitudes To Free Creativity 14. Busting Conceptual Blocks 15. Being Creative In Successive Stages 16. Seeding Brainstorms 17. Sky Bridging Ideas 18. Applying 9 Kinds of Learning 19. Innovating by Collaborating 20. Spring Boarding with Synectics 21. Designing with Magic Logic 22. Writing: From Deep To Done LIBERATING LEARNING: HOLE IN THE WALL What happens when educational access is totally freeform and open to improvisation? What do students do without teachers telling that what to learn and how to proceed? In New Delhi, computer scientist, Dr. Sugata Mitra provided children free access to computers and the Internet with what has come to be known as the "Hole in the Wall Experiment." Inside a hole in the wall between his air-conditioned space and the surrounding slum, he placed a computer linked with the Internet. Curious kids quickly explored the novelty and asked, "Can we touch it?'" Mitra said, "It's on your side of the wall." Within minutes, they figured out how to point and click. By the end of the day they were browsing. One boy became a computer celebrity locally. His teacher says he's a much better student now. When asked to define the Internet, he replied, "That with which you can do anything." Mitra replicated this experiment in other settings with the same results. Within hours and without instruction, children were surfing cyberspace. Next, Mitra and his colleagues set up computer kiosks in an effort to recruit girls in a society where only one in three females read. Girls rushed to the computers. "I feel great!" said a beaming girl in New Delhi. Her family 2 is a bit baffled. Her sister-in-law is a stay-at-home housewife who has never seen a computer. But she is thrilled that Anjana has access to new technology that opens up new horizons. "It increases her knowledge...and it will be a big help when she looks for a job." Indian children, without instruction, invent their own computer terms and icons. They call a cursor a "sui" - which is Hindi for needle. The hourglass symbol is called "damru" which means Shiva's drum, since it looks like one. Mitra told FRONTLINE/World, "I think the hole in the wall gives us a method to create a door, if you like, through which large numbers of children can rush into this new arena. When that happens, it will have changed our society forever." LEARNING FOR AHA! (ALPHA CLIMBS) Just as a nation, state, city, community, and company needs a unifying purpose to attain excellence, individuals excel by realizing their highest aims. This is true of schools too, and it is the most profound purpose that education can play in our lives. “Education's highest purpose is to help people understand the meaning of their lives, and become more sensitive to the meaning of other peoples' live and relate to them more fully. Education increases the range and complexity of relationships that make sense to us, to which we can contribute, and on which we can bring to bear competent ethical judgment. If we are to transcend our own immediate environment, we must have access to the record of past and present, learn the skills needed to interpret it, and learn to tell good data from poor, whether it be the empirical data of the sciences or the moral and aesthetic data of the humanities." (Edgar Friedenberg, in Education of Vision, by Gyorgy Kepes, ed.) With an empowering method for achieving this high calling, Seymore Papert said: “I am convinced that the best learning takes place when the learner takes charge…The role of the teacher is to create the conditions for invention rather than provide ready-made knowledge.” But too often, schooling is done to dole out stale facts, like a bad cafeteria. George Lucas said: "I had to find my own way to learn topics I was passionate about, as my school days were filled with memorizing isolated names and facts. It’s imperative that we create new kinds of schools, freed from an educational system deeply rooted in the distant past. Business and community groups are developing new partnerships with schools. Teachers are taking on different learning roles, and students are learning to teach each other (in) schools leading the way to this new future." To educe means to "draw out" (not put in). Teachers elicit learners’ initiative with "student centered" dialogue, as advocated passionately by Paolo Friere. Students learn from each other, rather than competing to outdo or eliminate each others. Although collaborative learning is considered "cheating" in some educational settings that emphasize conformity and competition, a whole new worldview has been emerging. For example, when Dr. Oppenheimer founded the Exploratorium, is was designed to provide a context for learning to flow freely, without interference from authority figures assigning uniform “grades” for anyone’s experience. His insistence on free wheeling learning over monitored instruction flies in the face of the institution that education has become. But with drop out rates of thirty-to-fifty percent in many U.S. cities, isn’t a more engaging educational process preferable? 3 Is the goal to include people or eliminate them from educational opportunities? Shouldn’t everyone be included in education, for lifelong access for personal growth and societal progress? Who pays when people are denied access to education? Alpha Climbs - Peak Experiential Education "When you are completely absorbed or caught up in something, you become oblivious to things around you, or to the passage of time. It is this absorption in what you are doing that frees your unconscious and releases your creative imagination." Rollo May Many courses I've taught blurred boundaries between the classroom and community life. A rock climber who was a student in a course I taught at U.C. Davis named our class an “Alpha Climb.” This was intended to mean that each learner is free to choose their own adventure by picking the peak they want to climb (as a subject they want to learn) and the path(s) they choose to use in getting to that apex. We all learned much more this way than the usual approach to learning, based on predetermined assignments that don’t demand much ethical imagination, interpersonal innovation, heartfelt communication, or reflective action in real world contexts where students freely choose to root collaborative learning. Learning should flow from intrinsic motives that connect with community life. Creating strategies that make teamwork fun, productive and meaningful begins by listening intently to each other's hopes. Sitting in a circle outside (whenever possible) helps set the tone of a sacramental experience. In our circle of support, each person gets to: Pick an educational adventure they choose to pursue by expressing what you care most about, in terms of what you wish to do to with your life Explore ways to record their learning as a journey, and the lessons gained - using new media to leverage learning (focusing on content than polished packaging) to teach classmates what you learn, using media records of your adventure Invest resources beyond the classroom, especially local elders, unusual people, and pioneering professionals - discover others who are doing good work related to your aim and offer to help them, or devise your own approach to serving your cause To design and enact your own alpha climb means choosing your own peak, going farther with teamwork, falling forward from let downs, and reaching new heights of insight. Some memorable apex treks include: Butterfly Man – A big rugby athlete created a super hero identity (for himself) to build butterfly habitats in people's yards until they all form one huge habitat (through Sacramento) during the course of his lifetime. Incognito Immigrants – A group of students lived as homeless immigrants in California’s capital, using multimedia to document the “pattern language of oppression” that vulnerable people are forced to endure. They presented their documentary to civic leaders to earn support for improved social services. 4 No Man’s Land Art – A team composed of students from around the world got together to invade “no man's lands” scattered across our urban environments. Like secret agents, they brought media to record quick performances they staged in response to the feelings these landscapes evoked. Their work was honored as a traveling art exhibit, nationally. Public Vision Research - A small team joined me in doing design-on-the spot in downtown farmers' markets. By setting up a booth with aerial photos and street scene shots, we engaged all comers in open dialog with rapid designs doodled over site photos. Our videos were given to the local Redevelopment Agency as public vision research for future planning. True News Pioneer – A woman grieved by ethical unease with injustices going on in Jerusalem, boldly made her own video journal, with laptop and recording gear to create a prototype for a radio show that is now on KPFA (Flashpoints). Deathbed Songbird – A woman who said she wasn’t creative revealed that she sings to dying strangers by their bedsides at local hospitals, intuiting what they want to hear. Even though she is partially disabled, she is on call for them. This is her art. Commuter Explorer – A gentleman with a long daily commute turned his routine into an adventure. By adding a bit more time to fit in side routes, he got to know about places he had been passing through. With photography, he enriched his everyday experience using time to advantage. Ears for Tears – A woman told classmates about something troubling her. Recently her young son’s grandmother died, and he was crying often. Mom had been raised to not show weakness, especially by crying. She felt conflicted about comforting her son’s pain. As a new approach, she invited him to draw his tears as illustrated stories. He responded with amazing images. Their relationship bloomed. This activity became their time to be together, with TV off. When she shared their art in class, many shed tears of joy. In Peak Learning, Ronald Gross advocates realization of passions, rather than reliance on standardized instruction to pass minimum norms. Compare peak learning characteristics with those associated with emphasis on meeting minimum standards. Healing Force – In one course where our emphasis was on listening to each other, with minimal structure and maximum spontaneity, one man revealed at the end of an especially enriched session (where we stayed past midnight) that he had healed himself from AIDS after being diagnosed on a trip to Mexico. Without recourse to modern medicine of any sort, he turned inward to embrace his own healing powers in ways I cannot convey here. But I can say he was entirely healed and fully truthful as he blessed us all with his personal story of the healing power of love. Innovation Motivation Innovation education begins by respecting student’s intrinsic motivation to learn and connects education with real world contexts. Related traits of innovation education include: 5 • Intrinsic Motivation - students select meaningful topics for sustained study • Direct Experience - learners experience the subject in its context, directly • Personal Practice - students build skills by persistent practice, free from fear • Mutual Reviews - learners share results and support each other's growth • Diverse Interpretations - peers pool perceptions on work in progress • Self Evaluations - students define educational aims and assess personal growth with self- selected criteria defined in open dialogue • Open Ended-ness - learners surpass limits by following personal passion • Cooperation - students support each other's growth instead of competing or cheating • Unification - education becomes a unifying process rather disjointed topics Instead of forcing consumption of second hand information, education for innovation encourages proactive participation in setting goals, exploring methods, and evaluating outcomes. As Edutopia founder George Lucas says: "It’s imperative that we create new kinds of schools, freed from an educational system deeply rooted in the distant past. Business and community groups are developing new partnerships with schools. Teachers are taking on different learning roles, and students are learning to teach each other (in) schools leading the way to this new future." In Peak Learning, Ronald Gross advocates realization of people’s passions for maximum results, rather standardized instruction to pass minimum norms. Compare peak learning with emphasis on meeting minimums. Characteristics of Peak Learning Characteristics of Minimum Standards • Excitement and love of learning • Memorization and repetition • Diversity and personal esteem • Conformity to a mono-culture • Creative thinking and intuition • Static and rigid processes • Process mastery • Content memorization • Teachers as learning facilitators • Teachers as data banks • Inter-disciplinary learning • Departmentalized learning • Cultural diversity • Uniformity and conformity • Collaborative learning sites • Isolated teaching settings • Technology as an integral tool • Technology as add on • Flexible use of facilities • Restrictive use of facilities • Involvement with community • Detachment from community FEELING FLOW AND AESTHETIC RESONANCE 6 In Peak Learning, Ronald Gross describes an optimal mental state called FLOW. "Flow is the state in which learning and happiness are most completely merged…action flows effortlessly…you feel strong, alert and unselfconscious…in command of the present and performing at the peak of your ability…(with) a profound focus on what you're doing that leaves no room to worry about what anyone else will think…intense concentration on what is relevant develops the ability to merge unselfconscious action with awareness and to alter the experience of time…Flow experiences arise from intrinsic motivation, not from concerns with external rewards or goals." Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (“chick-sent-me-high”) offers a way for this state to spread amongst people, in Flow, The Psychology of Optimal Experience: "It is possible to find a unifying purpose that...like a magnetic field attracts...psychic energy, a goal upon which all lesser goals depend. This goal will define the challenges...to face in order to transform...life into a flow activity." As confirmation that flow can be a shared state of mind, Stephen Hawken’s The Magic of Findhorn recalls: "A new sense of sublimation to the greater whole and of being 'attuned' to people. The Magic of Findhorn is the actual, palpable experience of one's own consciousness merging with a group consciousness...one individual after another describing the experience of oneness, the joy that this unfolding of consciousness bestows, and the lightness of mental gait when the load of being 'someone' is cast away and the dance of simply being 'one' begins." A special state of sensitivity, associated with the arts, is aesthetic awareness that engages all of our senses. Beyond the conventional set of senses - sight, hearing, touch, taste, and smell – our experience of motion, gravity, pressure, humidity, temperature and balance may also be activated. This holistic state of mind contrasts with pragmatic, emotional, and scientific modes of awareness by being expansive, multi-sensory, plus intuitive – as when we get flashes of insight and travel forward in time with hints of ESP. To grasp this state's special nature, consider different ways of perceiving an on-coming train. A train whistle, heard with a practical attitude, alerts us to be careful. This same train sound, heard with scientific dispassion, offers an opportunity to analyze sound waves as mathematical abstractions. An affective response to the train whistle may arouse fear or longing…or other associations that stir emotions stored in our memories. But aesthetic awareness means acutely hearing every nuance of the whistle with vivid detail, while reflecting rich associations with other experiences and their potential for expressing symbolic values. Aesthetic awareness feeds our creative imaginations. As reported by artists, athletes, leaders, seers, and scientists, this heightened state of sensitivity is the opposite of “tunnel vision” because it includes peripheral vision, hearing silences between sounds, field awareness and acute sensitivity subtle energies, such as practitioners of feng shui cultivate through systematic approaches for opening sensitivity to living systems. This is the ultimate aim of innovation education. 7 Jiddu Krishnamurti described a special state of perceptive openness. "The attention which is generally advocated, practiced and indulged in is a narrowing-down of the mind to a point, which is a process of exclusion. But there is a different kind of attention, a state of mind which is not exclusive, which does not shut out anything; and because there is not resistance, the mind is capable of much greater attention. But attention without resistance does not mean the attention of absorption. If you are aware of every movement of the mind from moment to moment then there is no such thing as distraction at any time and the energy of the mind is not wasted in resisting something. When someone is speaking, attention is the giving of your mind not only to the words but also to the silence between the words. If you experiment with this you will find that your mind can pay complete attention without distraction and without resistance. Apart from the attention of absorption, these two states are all we know. Either we try to discipline the mind so tightly that it cannot deviate, or we just let it wander from one thing to another. Now, what I am describing is not a compromise between the two; on the contrary, it has nothing to do with either. It is an entirely different approach; it is to be totally aware so that your mind is all the time attentive without being caught in the process of exclusion." A group may experience intuitive unity, too. The Magic of Findhorn describes: "(A) new sense of sublimation to the greater whole and of being 'attuned' to people. The Magic of Findhorn is the actual, palpable experience of one's own consciousness merging with a group consciousness...one individual after another describing the experience of oneness, the joy that this unfolding of consciousness bestows, and the lightness of mental gait when the load of being 'someone' is cast away and the dance of simply being 'one' begins." (Paul Hawken) TAPPING GENERAL GENIUS "If the current fever to redesign education were to be informed by an appreciation for the role of anxiety in the child’s development, it would be possible to multiply the thinking skills developed in school. What is needed is not new curricula and new buildings and equipment, but a new relationship between teacher and student in which the adult focuses on nurturing, above all, a realistic self–appreciation. Treated properly, those selves have all the talent required to become outstanding thinkers. If we adults in the teaching system can become clear, within our selves about how to create, first internally and then for our charges, a discount–free process and goal–oriented way of relating and learning, we may be able to provide children and parents with a new more humane and growth friendly model for relating to themselves and each other." George Prince In my experience in green planning and design with people of all ages, I’ve found that children, and people in general, come up with livelier designs than the world they’ve actually experienced. Teens will envision futures far more beautiful than anything they’ve known in their hometowns or seen in movies, not to mention video games. What’s feeding their ethical imaginations…beyond the influence of experience and media impressions? Consider an example of how this happens. On a recommendation from a colleague at U.C. Berkeley, U.C. Davis sociologist John Sanfield kindly invited me to join with him in working with a dozen Sacramento teens to see 8 what kind of ideas they would envision for their community by doing design together. We spent serious time together to make sure we were in full agreement about the purpose of our partnership. We would have weeks to analyze community contexts; survey public interests; feed their imaginations; experience great places; form an ethical vision; and convey their concepts. That's was a lot to do in three weeks. They (we) hadn't done anything like this before. But my experience in working with diverse groups in pressured packed projects gave me confidence. I expressed faith in the kids, and they took it to heart. The experiment we set out to do was intended to show that teens have much to contribute, when given opportunities to serve public interests. Rather than take their "input" and make plans FOR them, my role was to facilitate expression of their own values and visions. My role ranged from championing a spirit of adventurous learning to transferring graphic skills. We held our first meetings in a new Police Headquarters for an air of authority that let everyone know we were serious and authorized for action. I showed slides of fascinating places to stir thinking and open up conversations. We exchanged facts and ideas fast. I invited each to describe the best places they had ever experienced. With this, I learned that many had not been very far from their local scene, except for amusement parks like Disneyland. So, I knew we would need field trips to feed their imaginations. For this, Dr. Sanfield assigned several helpful college interns to work with me to help organize (what I call) a “learning spree” of enjoyable experiences in enriching contexts, ranging from urban centers to shopping districts, campuses and the State Fair. With camcorders, tape measures, and conversations on the spot, we discovered and defined details connected into the social-spatial designs of “great good places.” Friendships quickly formed. Tensions over race, gender and age were minimal. Our interns helped bridge generations and serve as role models. They were great partners, with a huge hearts. Our daily field trips to “great good places” ranged from the State Fair to San Francisco’s waterfront, plazas and urban parks, plus Tilden Regional Park, Berkeley’s Fourth Street, a Waldorf campus, and Cal State Sacramento University campus and garden. We absorbed lasting lessons from these powerful places. Everyone was an anthropologist, artist, detective, journalist and researcher rolled into one. Exposure to enriching environments was a breath of fresh air. They clearly loved documenting sites and interviewing folks on the fly. We explored a rich array of social issues and planning concepts, blending experience with continuous reflection that helped lessons “stick.” To poll public interests, we developed questionnaires, with Dr. Sanfield’s considerable help. We ran surveys passing people, enhanced by questionnaires that also used at home, in neighborhoods, and with community groups. Absorbing environmental qualities while gathering public interests set the stage for them to represent their community’s potential. We found people cared deeply about affordable housing, public transportation, meaningful recreation, lifelong education, clean energy, inclusive economy, restorative ecology, and more. Words that local folks used varied, but the gist of their ideas was very, very green. For our final two days together, we set up a big drawing table with base plans, aerial photos, and drawing tools. In a flurry of activity, they created their plan with instant 9 cooperation. They superimposed ideas onto images of local contexts, with confidence from their direct connection to people’s expressed interests. They drew decisions without fussing over who thought of what. We invited the local press to cover our daily workshops as we videotaped planning in progress. In mobile exhibits, we combined their concepts for public presentations (that we would do next). To garner feedback from local elders, experts, and peers, we hosted a presentation in their community center. The teens overcame natural shyness once they realized their purpose was to present plans that reflected facts and aspirations that lifted focus from self-image to community identity. Their experience of being fully heard and appreciated for representing community’s interests left a lasting lesson in how democracy can work in civic life. The plan they made was completely free of conventional sprawl and economic segregation. It was extremely green and sensitively sized with healthy human proportions. Pedestrian paths were woven through the entire urban scene. Ascending walkways connected terraced buildings that mixed ground floor stores with overhead lofts, shops, studios, and a rich array of affordable lifestyles. Localized enterprises served folks of all ages. Ready access to open spaces, street trees, urban gardens and well planted buildings formed a refreshing framework of living landscapes as the common ground for public life. Clean energy powered compact building clusters oriented for solar exposure and generous views. I believe their plan proved that people are born with (what I call) a “general genius for fast forward learning.” Having worked with many groups of all ages, I’ve come to believe we have an inborn genius for designing greener futures and that cultivating this intelligence is an ethical imperative. It is our secret ingredient for creating cities with soul. ESCAPING THE CAVE Making Schools Into Open Systems Imagine a hillbilly with a laptop under his arm…entering an outhouse. He emerges minutes later, jumping for joy over his final grade for a college course he took on line. With easier access to lifelong learning and tools that make commutes to campuses obsolete, is the evolution of education is leading toward liberation of human potential, in wider circles? I taught a college student who had come to America to fulfill his family’s faith and justify the years of their saving meager money from hard labor, so he could have a better life. But, by the middle of the school year, he had missed so many classes that teachers were considering flunking him. When we crossed paths one day in a college hall, I asked him what was going on in his life to make him miss so many classes. Exhausted, he explained he was working several part-time jobs to afford all the costs involved in staying in school. Work hours were mounting up as bosses wanted more from him. At school, he hoped he could catch up with extra effort near the end of the term, the same way the many students “cram” for final exams. I alerted him to show up more often, and let other teachers know of his dilemma, so they could extend empathy, rather than judge him for being lazy, uncommitted, disrespectful, and other negative assumptions that can pop up fast and stick around long. Even though his attendance wasn’t 10 perfect, he found a way to get assignments done. Once teachers knew of his situation, they gave him wiggle room when he snuck in late to class or missed sometimes. But now, we can ask a more fundamental question: why is punctuality and compliance to timeframes given so much emphasis? With the advent of new technology for distance learning and asynchronous self-pacing, it seems regressive and obsessive to insist on everyone obeying the same schedule. If this same principle is applied to work schedules, imagine how easily we could reduce traffic gridlock, if employees could self-manage teamwork without being forced to commute to central locations with inflexible routines. When I was commuting to college and working full-time, a math teacher gave me the greatest gift I could hope for, at that time. Noticing I was worn out at night, but solving problems quickly and correctly, he made me an offer I jumped at. He invited me to take the final test and skip coming to class. When I came to take the test in his office, he handed me two questions. That meant I couldn’t pass without solving both. I would get an A or an F. With high stakes in play, I scribed formulae fast. After about an hour I was done with the first one, and knew my solution was sound. Then, solving the second one problem stretched out over an hour…as I tried every angle I could think of to solve it. Finally, I walked to his desk and handed my test in, confessing that the second problem’s solution had eluded me. Like a sage, he looked up with a slight grin and said: “Oh…it’s an impossible problem. You did a good job of trying to solve it.” Then, he marked an “A” grade on my paper. I cannot tell you how much it mattered to me to get this experience of freedom from grueling commutes. From my experiences as a student and an educator, I strongly believe that education should focus on facilitating learning rather than imposing routines that have minimal relevance to the subjects at hand. While many local school programs are currently being cut, Peter Drucker predicted at the turn of the century that schools will increasingly become "open systems" overall, to allow access at any age and produce outcomes that improve life in local communities. Partnership between schools and employing organizations will become more common. Open education will link learning with community service projects for learning-by-doing. As this takes place, education will transition from didactic training to heuristic learning - from a knowing to a searching approach. The teacher's evolving role will be to help students become self-directed, lifelong learners. Obedience, punctuality, and rote work will give way to student-centered, lasting learning. We are shifting from past-oriented curricula to past/present/future curricula and from a fixed reality to a dynamic reality (of ambiguities and emerging potentials). We're also in transition from fragmentation-of-knowledge to integration-of-knowledge. With this, we are also going from book-bound curricula to internet-based research, where teams teach each other by researching diverse topics concurrently. As gathering facts gets easier, the more important work of making meaning from diverse sources will rise. As learners pursue genuine interests with pure curiosity, lasting learning will come from their shared fresh discoveries. When people work autonomously and in self-chosen teams – authority comes with responsibility. Assignments become self-directed. This is the kind of education that could uplift citizen participation in civic life, as well as build character, and give rise to innovative leaders 11 across the whole spectrum of professions. Liberation Education When I grew up in L.A., my elementary school let us learn at our own pace and had teachers write personal reflections about our progress, rather than assign grades. When my family moved to San Diego County, my new school tested me for proper placement. At age ten, they found out I was already doing college level work, but their definition of education was different than the one that had worked for me. Their rules were more like military and prison management. We had to ask for permission to stand up, get in line, talk, open a book, get a pencil, etc. Cruelty ran rampant there, as kids vented their frustrations during recess. Both school systems had been designed to win the Cold War. Each one had their plan for pushing the brightest minds to the top. Between bomb drills and math tests, our minds were labs for testing their theories. By the time I got to high school, I became a “disturbing influence” - after beaten in front of leering mobs for being “the brain.” I pumped up by lifting weights and formed a rock band with tough guys who could handle trouble with glee. We were fierce. I carried an emotional charge that had built up from being bullied and being bored - like millions of kids today. In Education for Critical Consciousness, Paolo Friere advocates democratic dialog as the source of real learning. Making an analogy with banking, he decries conventional schools for enforcing practices that put students in the role of withdrawing knowledge from teachers, as though lessons are commodities and students are consumers. Instead, education should raise awareness by coaxing students to question all they are exposed to, in order to make learning meaningful. Teachers’ relationships with students should be respect plus awareness of real world conditions that influence them. Without this, teachers act in ignorance of what students know and how they think. Friere states knowledge does not exist in an absolute state, but develops as a social construct. Knowing involves feeling. Curiosity naturally extends beyond single topics to larger sets of inter-related associations. Beliefs become knowledge by discussion and critical reflection on direct experiences, rather than rote memorization of second hand information, presented with limited media, expressing a singular perspective. Freire saw an absurd authoritarianism in the assumption that knowledge belongs to educational authorities, teachers, and institutions, instead of seeing that intelligence resides inside all. Socially sanctioned, illegitimate powers are granted to an elite class who pretend to be more knowledgeable than others. They claim indigenous people’s knowledge is inferior and vulgar, even if it has served natives for centuries. Real learning is a participatory exchange where knowledge is presented, then shaped through association, discussion, and reflection. Teaching must be democratic to avoid fostering dependency. Democratic teachers teach by demonstrating how learners can learn by simply listening, deeply. Rather than harping on how others should listen, teachers listen, with genuine interest in other’s perspectives. Authoritarianism will spur some students to rebel in 12 defiance. For other learners, it will engender apathy, resignation, obedience, mindless conformity, non-resistance, self-denial, and fear of freedom – the ultimate anti-democratic tragedies of oppressive education. (Paulo Friere: Pedagogy of the Oppressed, The Politics of Education - Culture, Power, and Liberation) Getting Out of Gatto’s Cave In Plato’s Allegory of the Cave, he asks us to imagine clans who have spent their whole lives in a cave, facing a blank wall where shadows are cast by things passing in front of them, from the light of a fire their chains prevent them from facing. Shadows become their accepted “reality.” Plato defines a philosopher as one who is freed from The Cave by knowing eternally true forms of reality, rather than believing in passing shadows. As a reflective practitioner, award winning New York public school teacher, John Taylor Gatto, shines a giant miner’s helmet light into a cavern of concepts that have led us the wrong way in public schools. In Dumbing Us Down - The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling, John Taylor Gatto unearths myths and realities of modern schooling, learned from his years in the cave, as one of New York’s most acclaimed educators. This is what he bravely told New York State legislators, upon receiving their award as the state’s top teacher. “I began to realize that the bells and the confinement, the crazy sequences, the age- segregation, the lack of privacy, the constant surveillance, and all the rest of the national curriculum of schooling were designed exactly as if someone had set out to prevent children from learning how to think and act, to coax them into addiction and dependent behavior.” The gist of his critique is that in the past century, social engineers have designed American life for tight central control. Compulsory schooling is a deliberate effort to establish intellectual, economic, and political conformity - so society can be run efficiently by technocratic elites. "School…is an artifice that makes... a pyramidal social order seem inevitable…(which is) a fundamental betrayal of the American Revolution.” Gatto sees social pathologies, like drug abuse and violence, as natural reactions of youth subjected to mechanical, abstract discipline. He implores us to reconnect learning with community life by rejecting social engineering by experts and institutions. At the global level, he states that the patriotic thrust is actually an anti-life mythology “alienated from common human reality.” Gatto affirms that lasting, meaningful, enriching learning is found “in families, in friends, in the passage of seasons, in nature, in simple ceremonies and rituals, in curiosity, generosity, compassion, and service to others, in a decent in-dependence and privacy, in all the free and inexpensive things out of which real families, real friends, and real communities are built.” An empire building class at the helm of modern culture has smothered human virtues. What could be more sinister? If we agree, and reject obedience to pyramidal power, then we turn toward localized, circular power relations for bringing out people’s potential and tending 13 social ills at ground zero. This opens up another risk. Small mindedness can dominate insular groups, like clans, witch-hunters, and terrorists. In economics, belief in Adam Smith's “invisible hand” has proven to be more like a stone fist than a warm palm for spreading gregarious generosity. Trickle down’s legacy is legions of vets begging for scraps in the wake of boom-bust surges. Just as democracy depends on informed citizens of good will, a free market rises from solid facts plus high mindedness that guides society away from gluttony toward grace. Seven dirty tricks that Gatto has dug up for us to solve are (quoting him): 1. Confusion. “Everything I teach is out of context. I teach the un-relating of everything.” Solution: Take care to keep topics connected; help grow a “group gestalt” by blending visual thinking with verbal communication, hands-on activities, and more. 2. Class position. “That's the real lesson of any rigged competition like school. You come to know your place.” Solution: Practice empathy by rotating roles, changing hats, teaming up and being like a “one room school without walls.” 3. Indifference. “The lesson of bells is that no work is worth finishing, so why care too deeply about anything?” Solution: Engage in serial sessions that grow knowledge by investing attention in themes; keep running records for exhibiting learning as an organic process. 4. Emotional dependency. “By stars and red checks, smiles and frowns, prizes, honors, and disgraces, I teach kids to surrender their will to the predestined chain of command.” Solution: Respect each person as having a sacred intrinsic purpose in life by making education a means for expressing everyone’s calling. 5. Intellectual dependency. “Of the millions of things of value…I decide what few we have time for, or actually it is decided by my faceless employers...Curiosity has no important place in my work, only conformity…the most important lesson (is) that we must wait for other people, better trained than ourselves, to make the meanings of our lives.” Solution: Listen to learner’s aspirations and encourage curiosity to energize ethical imagination, in one and all. 6. Provisional self-esteem. “The lesson of report cards, grades and tests is that children should not trust themselves or their parents but should rely on the evaluation of certified officials. People need to be told what they are worth.” 14 Solution: Collaborate in developing scoring systems for students to use, like athletes measure their mastery of skills by keeping track and raising new norms. 7. One can't hide. “Surveillance is an ancient imperative, espoused by certain influential thinkers (such as Plato, Augustine, Calvin, Bacon, and Hobbes). All these childless men... discovered the same thing: children must be closely watched if you want to keep a society under tight central control.” Solution: Instead of giving in to the “Panopticon” (Big Brother is watching), where common folks are spied like subjects under a one-way mirror, engage in producing diverse perspectives in myriad media projects. Educating with Ends and Means Educational ends can be totally predetermined or relatively open-ended. For instance, a lower level math class may have a goal of conveying correct steps for getting the right answers to a prescribed set of problems. But advanced learning involves “heuristics” for discovering optimum answers to complex challenges, where the answer is not known in advance, and the methods must be tried “on the fly.” In such cases, failure is useful rather than punishable. Like Edison’s experiments, each failed attempt provides another step toward the ultimate answer. In creative arts, pure research and genuine invention, handling uncertainties is integral to learning. Teaching methods must differ according to the ends addressed and the means applied in guiding learning. Closed Ends Closed Means Closed Ends Open Means Open Ends Closed Means Open Ends Open Means Students and teachers need a shared sense of mission. Then, the means to ends can be designed through dialog. To guide progress and assess outcomes, criteria need to be clarified, by all involved. Quick feedback and lasting learning may involve different measures of guidance and assessment. Some of our most meaningful educational experiences "sink in" over time and stir insights that elude easy measurement. The core point to consider is learner motivation. Students conditioned to seeking rewards and avoiding punishments are externally motivated and may (probably) find the switch to inner motivation discomforting, at first. They will need a safe haven with time to explore options without coercion or threat of failure. Patience is worthwhile in aiding the change from dependency on external authorities to inner motivation. Research shows what common sense knows - inner motivation is the key to lasting learning. 15 Applying Dialogue with Case Studies If the purpose of education is to encourage initiative and prepare people for leadership, then moving away from the “dumbing down” of students, as illumined by John Taylor Gatto, should lead to learning enriched by more open, egalitarian dialogue. For example, the case system of instruction at Harvard Business School involves students in discussing real situations to exercise critical reasoning that’s essential for leadership. By dissecting examples of real world problems, especially ones that are prevalent in working environments, discussions of problems, causes, and solutions are describe the executives involved, the contingencies at hand, and the cultural conditioning exerted by opinions and prejudices embedded in each context. Specific cases are examined through individual analysis, followed by open discussion, leading to final decisions about recommended actions. Knowledge grows from analyzing cases to form general principles elicited during discussion. Participation is essential for the case study method to develop the capacity that is essential for leadership: the formation of sound judgments based on incomplete evidence. Discussion develops decision-making ability, in the absence of perfectly complete facts. Instead of dishing out information or repeating a single solution for everyone to memorize, instructors assign cases to study and facilitate dialogue. Discourse can rise to the boiling point sometimes, in competitive sparring between peers. But more often, dialogue generates a collaborative spirit as participants experience the power of pooling varied perspectives in reaching well- rounded conclusions. (Cragg, Charles. Because Wisdom Can’t be Told. Harvard Business School 451-005. Nov. 1982) Reinventing College The most meaningful and creative college course I ever took came from a simple assignment by a really challenging teacher, who said: “Your assignment this term is to reinvent college.” Then, he strode from the amphitheater with a promise to return at the end of the semester. Until then, we were on our own - to invent what to do and how to do it – without knowing what he would like or what the factors for getting a good grade would be. Chaos erupted as people flurried to find prospective partners and topics to pursue. I got in so many heated exchanges that I bolted out of the room to cool off my mind. Outside, I found a guy sitting on the lawn, holding his head. I quietly asked if he was okay. As we talked, we found out that we had many interests in common. We decided to try and make a project together to “reinvent college.” By listening to each other and exchanging ideas, we spent countless hours in flowing interplay. At the end of the term, we put posters up around campus and prepared the planetarium for our performance. To our surprise, hundreds of students (of all ages) showed up. We did two shows in a row, to a full house. As the lights came back up at the end, people were crying with tears of joy. We had tapped something deep. Our audio-visual artwork became an annual public event, as he was hired by the college (a few years later) and worked there for most of his career. 16 Our professor peered at us, with a grin: “Who are you guys?” Without his assignment, we would never have had a chance to find out. Unlike conventional courses that have inflexible tasks, air tight schedules, and compliance to a single authority, every project student’s did was different, people worked at their own paces, and each of use added something worthwhile to the overall goal of learning – as co-producers rather than consumers of instructions controlled by institutions. USING MULTIPLE INTELLIGENCE The definition of intelligence has been completely revolutionized from a simplistic model to a more complex “multiple intelligence” model by Harvard’s Howard Gardner, plus others who are adding more nuances to the new framework. The “multiple intelligence” theory defines human potential better than reductive measures, like I.Q. tests. He defined seven forms of intelligence. Others have added an eighth (ecological) intelligence. You can assess your own preferences for these varieties of intelligence and appreciate others abilities. 1) Logic: solve problems, devise strategies, and form logical steps 2) Verbal: read, talk about things, and form phrases to aid understanding 3) Visual: draw, envision solutions, and visualize answers to questions 4) Music: perform, seek harmony, and memorize rhymes and rhythms 5) Motion: play sports, act out ideas, and make a first move to get things done 6) Inter-personal: socialize, mediate conflicts and work well in teams 7) Intra-personal: enjoy quietude, avoid strife, and learn by reflection 8) Ecological: tend plants, compare things, and study relationships With this perspective, learning should be designed to integrate all varieties intelligence by connecting lessons with each form of expression to let students explore their full range of mind-body capacities for enjoying learning. As President of American Federation of Teachers, Adam Urbanski says: “We know, based on research, that people remember about 10% of what they hear, 20% of what they see and 90% of what they do, but we still largely use one teaching style: ‘I talk, you listen and learn.’” We can do better. In Seven Kinds of Smart, Thomas Armstrong shares seven ways to learn anything, drawing on Gardeners seminal synthesis of seven types of intelligence (to which an eighth has been added and more are being considered): 1. Talk, read, and write about it (verbal-linear intelligence) L 2. Draw, sketch, or visualize it (visual-spatial intelligence) R 3. Dance it, build a model of it, or find some other hands-on activity related to it (kinetic-body intelligence) R 4. Sing it, chant it, find music that illustrates it, or put on background music while learning (musical intelligence) R 5. Relate learning to personal feelings or inner experience (emotional-intuitive-introspective intrapersonal intelligence) R 6. Conceptualize abstract ideas, use quantification to mathematically depict things-in- relationships (logical-mathematical “gestalt” intelligence) R 17 7. Work with others to learn together, make plans, and organize cooperation TEACHING THE WHOLE BRAIN Western emphasis on individual excellence stems from faith in solitary genius as the force that drives progress by breaking free from herd mentality. Yet, students are confined by teaching that enforces conformity through controlled consumption of abstract information metered by authorities. Conventional education too often inhibits right-brain learning by controlling the ends and means of instruction too narrowly. This sacrifices development of innovative thinking. To advance learning that fits the purpose of a self-governing society with an entrepreneurial economy, understanding of how our brains work is an essential step forward. Brain-based education forwards several essential precepts: 1) The brain runs many activities at once while processing wholes and parts simultaneously 2) Learning involves focused attention and peripheral perception with conscious and unconscious processes 3) Learning engages the whole physiology, so we understand best when facts are embedded in spatial memory rather than rote memory 4) Search for meaning is an innate motive that works through pattern recognition that is emotionally enriched 5) Learning is enhanced by challenge and inhibited by threat In her talk at the TED conference, neuroscientist Jill Taylor describes the construction of the brain and division of its functions in the context of left hemisphere and right hemisphere. Our right hemisphere functions like a parallel processor while our left hemisphere functions like a serial processor. They communicate with one another through the corpus colossus, a structure in the lower hindbrain that contains three hundred million axonal fibers. Because they process information differently, these two hemispheres think about different things, care about different things and, she suggests, have very different personalities. Characteristics of the right hemisphere: It’s all about the present moment, right here, right now Thinks in pictures Learns kinesthetically through the movement of our bodies Characteristics of the left hemisphere: Thinks methodically and linearly Is all about the past and the future Designed to take the collage of the present moment and pick out details and more details about details, categorizes and organizes that information and associates it with anything in the past that we have ever learned and projects into the future all of our possibilities Thinks in language 18 On-going brain chatter that connects me in my internal world to my external world Calculating intelligence that reminds me to do things Most importantly, it says: “I am.” As soon as this happens, I become separate from the consciousness around me and separate from you In Writing the Natural Way, Dr. Gabriele Ri confirms related points: “It's the right brain that processes all novel stimuli, whereas the left brain simply tunes it out. Any idea or exciting thought…has to come through the right brain, because the left-brain recognizes only what it has already learned. Risking an analogy, your (right) mind attends to the melody of life, whereas your (left) mind attends to the notes that compose the melody. And here is the key to natural writing: The melodies must come first…Consider your own writing sessions. Isn't it much easier to focus while listening to instrumental music? That's because song lyrics tap into the same left-brain language center you're trying to use for your novel or poem, and jam up the works.” As long as the brain is not prohibited from fulfilling its normal processes, learning occurs naturally. Learning is enhanced by challenge and inhibited by threat. Traditional schooling often inhibits learning by discouraging, ignoring, or punishing the brain's natural learning processes. The brain does many activities at once (like tasting and smelling) that engage the whole physiology. The search for meaning is innate and comes through patter finding. Emotions are critical to perceiving patterns. The brain processes wholes and parts simultaneously, involving focused attention and peripheral perception. Learning involves both conscious and unconscious processes. Memory includes two different types storage and recall: spatial and rote. We understand best when facts are embedded in spatial memory. Instructional techniques associated with brain-based learning are: Immersive Instruction with Relevant Curriculum - Teachers should design learning around students’ interests and make learning contextual, rather than detached from real world issues and personal interests. Creating learning environments that fully immerse students in an educational experience to take advantage of the brain's ability to process complex, interactive experiences that are both rich and real. Teachers should structure learning around real problems, encouraging students to also learn in settings outside the classroom and the school. Educators should let students learn in teams and use peripheral learning by drawing knowledge from diverse sources. Relaxed Alertness (Flow) in a Safe Haven – The learning environment should reduce fear and raise confidence in learners, while maintaining a highly challenging, playful, enriching environment. Quelling fear while offering challenges that encourage students to pursue personally meaningful learning that stimulates a state of “flow.” The best problem solvers are those who laugh! Personalized Participatory Assessment - Allowing learners to consolidate and internalize information by actively assessing progress toward goals that matter to them. Their assessment should help them understand their own learning styles and preferences. This 19 way, students can enhance their own learning process by understanding their learning styles and connecting learning with feedback from reality, rather than an increasing dependency on authority figures. In order for students to gain insight about a problem, there should be intensive analysis of different ways to approach it, and about learning in general. This is what's known as the "active processing of experience." Because every brain is different, educators should allow learners to customize their own environments and try diverse tactics for learning by doing. Finally, designers of educational tools must be artistic in their creation of brain-friendly environments. Instructors need to realize that the best way to learn is not through lecture, but by participation in realistic environments that let learners try new things safely and making gains from set backs, rather than insisting on constant correctness and punishing learners for engaging in trial and error that advances innovation. In total, we see the direction that brain based learning leads – which is liberation of learning - freed from dependency on external authority and empowered from intrinsic motives to reach new levels of understanding through continuous lifelong learning that flows as naturally as child’s play. LEARNING WITH CONSTRUCTIVISM “Constructivism” is a theoretical structure for collaborative learning. It is a philosophy of learning founded on the premise that we construct our own mental model(s) of the world. By reflecting, each of us generates our own beliefs and rules of life, which we use to make sense of our experiences and guide our interplay with others. Learning means adjusting our mental models to accommodate new experiences as we venture from familiar environments to more exotic and diverse contexts. Constructivist theorist Seymore Papert said: “I am convinced that the best learning takes place when the learner takes charge. The role of the teacher is to create the conditions for invention rather than provide ready-made knowledge.” Students prevent overload by taking a stronger role in gaining lasting learning by setting their own agendas and adjusting their own intake of information. Teachers step out of the role of being information dispensers to being adventure guides by sprinkling in facts, ideas, and inspirations along pathways picked by learners. With fluidity, teachers-as-adventure-guides serve student’s best interests, with minimum hovering, smothering, or negative pressure. “Student-centered” teaching let learners try their wings without fear of falling. Discovery is the larger intention. In constructivism, learning takes place through the interplay of multiple minds engaging in mutual learning through discovery driven teamwork. The premise of constructivism is that we learn more by doing (constructing) that by absorbing second hand facts from others, no matter how what their expertise is. Also, constructivism reduces reliance on external expertise by asserting that “reality” is culturally constructed from agreements between people, rather than being an absolute steady state that can be defined by a singular perspective. In collaborative learning, teams learn through mutual exchange by doing collaborative projects, as in the “jigsaw cooperative” method where each group advances 20 a different set research applied to a common topic; then each teaches the whole group what their team discovers. Students become teachers by learning lasting lessons through proactive partnership. This approach is best suited for future oriented subjects that involve real life uncertainties and complexities. Guiding principles of constructivism 1. Learning is a search for meaning. Therefore, learning must start with the issues around which students are actively trying to construct meaning. 2. Meaning requires understanding wholes as well as parts. And parts must be understood in the context of wholes. Therefore, the learning process focuses on primary concepts, not isolated facts. 3. In order to teach well, we must understand the mental models that students use to perceive the world and the assumptions they make to support those models. 4. The purpose of learning is for an individual to construct his or her own meaning, not just memorize the "right" answers and regurgitate someone else's meaning. Since education is inherently interdisciplinary, the only valuable way to measure learning is to make the assessment part of the learning process, ensuring it provides students with information on the quality of their learning. How Constructivism Impacts Learning Curriculum - Constructivism calls for the elimination of a standardized curriculum. Instead, it promotes using curricula customized to the students' prior knowledge. Also, it emphasizes hands-on problem solving. Instruction - Under the theory of constructivism, educators focus on making connections between facts and fostering new understanding in students. Instructors tailor their teaching strategies to student responses and encourage students to analyze, interpret, and predict information. Teachers also rely heavily on open-ended questions and promote extensive dialogue among students. Assessment - Constructivism calls for the elimination of grades and standardized testing. Instead, assessment becomes part of the learning process so that students play a larger role in judging their own progress. Learning As Teaching Constructivist theorist Seymour Papert said constructionism means "Giving children good things to do so that they can learn by doing much better than they could before.” The responsibility of learning should reside increasingly with the learner with the learner being actively involved in the learning process, unlike previous educational viewpoints where the responsibility rested with the instructor to teach and where the learner played a passive, 21 receptive role. Sustaining motivation to learn is strongly dependent on the learner's confidence in his or her potential for learning. These feelings of competence and belief in potential to solve new problems, are derived from first-hand experience of mastery of problems in the past and are much more powerful than any external acknowledgement and motivation. By experiencing the successful completion of challenging tasks, learners gain confidence and motivation to embark on more complex challenges. Constructivism advances learning theories of Jean Piaget, such as accommodation - the process of reframing one's mental representation of the external world to fit new experiences. In this approach, failure leads to learning. When we act on an expectation that the world operates in a certain way and it violates our expectations, we often fail; but by accommodating this new experience and reframing our model of the way the world works, we learn from the experience of failure, or others' failure. Constructivism does not suggest a single pedagogy; but as a description of human cognition, it is often associated with active learning learning-by- doing. Most approaches that have grown from constructivism suggest that learning is accomplished best using a hands-on approach. Learners learn by experimentation, and not by being told what will happen. They are left to make their own inferences, discoveries and conclusions. Learning is not an "all or nothing" process - students learn new information presented to them by building upon knowledge that they already possess. Social constructivism views each learner as a unique, complex and multidimensional individual. This perspective encourages the learner to arrive at his or her own version of the truth - influenced by his or her background, culture, or embedded worldview. From this viewpoint, it is vital to take into account the background and culture of the learner throughout the learning process, as this background helps shape the knowledge and truth that the learner creates, discovers and attains in the learning process. Without the social interaction with other more knowledgeable people, it is impossible to acquire social meaning of important symbol systems and learn how to utilize them. Teaching As Facilitating According to the social constructivist approach, instructors have to adapt to the role of facilitators rather than teachers. Where a teacher gives a didactic lecture which covers the subject matter, a facilitator helps the learner to get to his or her own understanding of the content. This dramatic change of role implies that a facilitator needs to display a totally different set of skills than a teacher. A teacher tells, a facilitator asks; a teacher lectures from the front, a facilitator supports from the back; a teacher gives answers according to a set curriculum, a facilitator provides guidelines and creates the environment for the learner to arrive at his or her own conclusions; a teacher mostly gives a monologue, a facilitator is in continuous dialogue with the learners. A facilitator should also be able to adapt the learning experience 'in mid-air' by using his or her own initiative in order to steer the learning experience to where the learners want to create value. 22 A further characteristic of the role of the facilitator in the social constructivist viewpoint is that the instructor and the learners are equally involved in learning from each other. This means that the learning experience is both subjective and objective and requires that the instructor's culture, values and background become an essential part of the interplay between learners and tasks in the shaping of meaning. Learners compare their version of the truth with that of the instructor and fellow learners in order to get to a socially tested version of truth. This creates a dynamic interaction between task, instructor and learner. This entails that learners and instructors should develop an awareness of each other's viewpoints and then look to own beliefs, standards and values, thus being both subjective and objective at the same time. Approaches for interactive learning include reciprocal teaching, peer collaboration, cognitive apprenticeship, problem-based instruction, web quests, anchored instruction and other approaches that involve learning with others. While it is advocated to give the learner ownership of the problem and solution process, it is not the case that any activity or any solution is adequate. The critical goal is to support the learner in becoming an effective thinker. This can be achieved by assuming multiple roles, such as consultant and coach. Social constructivist scholars view learning as an active process where learners should learn to discover principles, concepts and facts for themselves, hence the importance of encouraging guesswork and intuitive thinking in learners. In fact, for the social constructivist, reality is not something that we can discover because it does not pre-exist prior to our social invention of it. Learning is not a process that only takes place inside our minds, nor is it a passive development of behaviors shaped by external forces. Meaningful learning occurs when individuals are engaged in social activities. Learning As Collaborating Learners with different skills and backgrounds should collaborate in tasks and discussions in order to arrive at a shared understanding of the truth in a specific field. Most social constructivist models stress the need for collaboration among learners, in direct contradiction to traditional competitive approaches. If students get to present and train new contents with their classmates, a non-linear process of collective knowledge-construction will be set up. The social constructivist paradigm views the context in which the learning occurs as central to the learning itself. The learning environment should also be designed to support and challenge the learner's thinking. One social constructivist notion is that of authentic or situated learning, where the student takes part in activities that are directly relevant to the application of learning and which take place within a culture similar to the applied setting. Cognitive apprenticeship has been proposed as an effective constructivist model of learning to enculturate students into authentic practices through activity and social interaction in a way similar to craft apprenticeship. Evaluating By Collaborating In constructivism, dynamic assessment is a way of assessing the true potential of learners that differs significantly from conventional tests. Here the essentially interactive 23 nature of learning is extended to the process of assessment. Rather than viewing assessment as a process carried out by one person, such as an instructor, it is seen as a two-way process involving interaction between both instructor and learner. The role of the assessor becomes one of entering into dialogue with the persons being assessed to find out their current level of performance on any task and sharing with them possible ways in which that performance might be improved on a subsequent occasion. Thus, assessment and learning are seen as inextricably linked rather than separate processes. According to this viewpoint instructors should see assessment as a continuous and interactive process that measures the achievement of the learner, the quality of the learning experience and courseware. The feedback created by the assessment process serves as a direct foundation for further development. It is therefore important that teachers constantly assess the knowledge their students have gained to make sure that the students' perceptions of the new knowledge are what the teacher had intended. Teachers will find that since the students build upon already existing knowledge, when they are called upon to retrieve the new information, they may make errors. It is known as reconstruction error when we fill in the gaps of our understanding with logical, though incorrect, thoughts. Teachers need to catch and try to correct these errors, though it is inevitable that some reconstruction error will continue to occur because of our innate retrieval limitations. Integrating Disciplines Knowledge should not be divided into different subjects or compartments, but should be discovered as an integrated whole. The world in which the learner needs to operate does not approach one in the form of different subjects, but as a complex myriad of facts, problems, dimensions and perceptions. Where the sequencing of subject matter is concerned, it is the constructivist viewpoint that the foundations of any subject may be taught to anybody at any stage in some form. This means that instructors should introduce the basic ideas that give life and form to any topic or subject area, and then revisit and build upon these repeatedly. This notion has been extensively used in curricula. It is also important for instructors to realize that although a curriculum may be set down for them, it inevitably becomes shaped by them into something personal which reflects their own belief systems, their thoughts and feelings about both the content of their instruction and their learners. Thus, the learning experience becomes a shared enterprise. The emotions and life contexts of those involved in the learning process must therefore be considered as an integral part of learning. The goal of the learner is central in considering what is learned. It is important to achieve the right balance between the degree of structure and flexibility that is built into the learning process. The more structured the learning environment, the harder it is for the learners to construct meaning based on their conceptual understandings. A facilitator should structure the learning experience just enough to make sure that the students get clear guidance and parameters within which to achieve the learning objectives, yet 24 the learning experience should be open and free enough to allow for the learners to discover, enjoy, interact and arrive at their own, socially verified version of truth. In most pedagogies based on constructivism, the teacher's role is not only to observe and assess but to also engage with the students while they are completing activities, wondering aloud and posing questions to the students for promotion of reasoning. (e.g. “I wonder why the water does not spill over the edge of the full cup?”) Teachers also intervene when conflicts arise; however, they simply facilitate the students' resolutions and self-regulation, with an emphasis on the conflict being the students' and that they must figure things out for themselves. For example, promotion of literacy is accomplished by integrating the need to read and write throughout individual activities within print-rich classrooms. The teacher, after reading a story, encourages the students to write or draw stories of their own, or by having the students reenact a story that they may know well. Both activities encourage the students to conceive themselves as reader and writers. OBSERVING BY DRAWING We learn a lot by looking. Observation is one of the five most powerful ways to understand our world, along with conversations (interviews and surveys), reading, and constructive collaboration. Drawing realistically depends on seeing faithfully. Many people think they can’t draw; but what is stunting development of their ability is that they aren’t fully engaged in seeing. Instead, they are jumping from perception to labeling things - as a short cut for knowing “what’s out there.” And, they are judging their drawings too much to let expression of perception flow. To really see things, the mind needs time to linger and absorb impressions more completely. Jumping too quickly from perception to conceptualization can be counteracted with educational exercises designed to engage observation and connect perception with drawing. With practice, almost anyone can improve their ability to draw realistically…and add an animated sensibility that seems to breath with life. In The Natural Way to Draw, Simon Nicolaides taught a form of observational drawing called “contour drawing.” With this tactic, you begin drawing by looking at any point along the edge of a subject (a live model, for example). “Imagine that your marker point is touching the model instead of the paper. Without taking your eyes off the model, wait until you are convinced that the marker is touching that point on the model upon which your eyes are fastened. Then move slowly along the contour of the model and move the marker slowly along the paper. As you do this, keep the conviction that the marker point is actually touching the contour. Be guided more by the sense of touch than by sight. This means that you must draw without looking at the paper, continuously looking at the model. Exactly coordinate the marker with the eye. The eye may be tempted to move faster than your marker, but do not let it get ahead. Consider only the point that you are working on at the moment with no regard for any other part of the figure. Not all of the contours lie along the outer edge of the figure…draw…’inside contours’ exactly as you draw the outside ones…Develop the absolute conviction that you are touching the model. Draw…slowly, searching, sensitively. Take your time.” In an advanced version of this observational activity, an art class I enjoyed at U.C. San 25 Diego involved us in all-day drawings of animals in motion at San Diego’s Wild Animal Park. Amazingly, everyone got past the initial resistance to prolonged perception to do the seemingly impossible task of illustrating animals on the fly. As time went by, the exercise became meditative. Time pressure eased off. Drawings got better. By the end of the day, when we showed each other our sketches, it was obvious that the liveliness of illustrations had taken on powerful presence over the course of the day. An opposite approach to observational drawing that is also effective is to do quick sketches from fast paced glimpses. A situation can be mentally photographed by blinking both eyes after absorbing the scene for a short spell, such as five seconds. Then, the absorbed impression can be sketched from memory, immediately. Slide shows can be used for this exercise, applied individually and in groups. The point is to quicken perception and connect seeing with drawing. To further affirm the integral relationship between seeing and drawing, Dr. Betty Edwards has expanded on the contour drawing process with a proven set of methods that tap right brain (“R-mode”) talent for drawing realistically. Her books illustrate how students have made startling leaps by following simple (mental) re-orientations. The key to artistry is looking more fully at “what is” while quelling mental chatter and counteracting habits of labeling things without looking more attentively. Her methods make drawing an exercise in perception, like an active mediation. Her basic set of simple yet powerful steps for better drawing include: Draw familiar faces and things from upside down photos (to see things freshly) Draw edges without pause (aka “contours” to preclude interruption from judgment) Draw spaces between things (to perceive what is often ignored) Draw only shadows (to draw what can’t be named) Check drawing in a mirror (to see symmetry and proportions) Betty Edwards, Robert McKim, Michael Lin and other teachers advocate the use of a perspective framework for improving drawing by perceiving proportions more finely. For this, you make (or buy) a portable frame with a clear pane that has a vertical-horizontal grid superimposed. By looking through the frame and lining things up with the grid’s repeated boxes, size relationships and angles of different parts of a scene are more readily discernable by using the frame for orientation. Framing can also quicken learning to do perspective drawing by making it easier to see the horizon line in a composition and notice how the scale of things diminishes as objects recede in space, toward (imaginary) vanishing points on the horizon line. A less formal, yet effective alternative is to use one’s thumb or drawing tool as a vertical pole, like a builder uses a plumb bob to find an exact vertical angle. Simply lining up a vertical (and horizontal) reference of any sort helps keep angles and proportions in mind when drawing. In contrast, purposely distorting the sizes, shapes and angular relationships of people and things is a way to convey ideas by exaggeration, as in the art of caricature. By stretching facts, caricatures reveal truths and elicit emotions ranging from healthy humor to scathing wrath (as in political satire). They add the comic touch. Another graphic tactic for tapping emotions is quick gesture sketches. This method isn’t meant to represent something seen. Instead, a feeling is directly drawn as a tactile expression to convey rage, fear, excitement, joy, and so on. This is a good activity for introducing people to expressing themselves visually. It 26 can help folks loosen up, by bypassing the habit of judging whether a drawing “looks right.” Like audiences who watch dancers express emotions, people are quickly able to get the gist of each other’s gestural graphics. Feeling-as-meaning can be further articulated by adding color, shades of light, and so forth. But gestural graphics can be surprisingly potent as a singular element. By carrying the intent of this exercise into other kinds of drawing, visualization integrates emotional resonance into representational illustrations and imaginary depictions. Visualization ability flourishes when given the right conditions and good guidance. Betty Edwards describes the “R-mode” mental state involved in realistic drawing: “In that…subjective state, artists speak of feeling…’at one with the work,’ able to grasp relationships that they ordinarily cannot grasp…they feel alert and aware yet are relaxed and free of anxiety. The psychologist Julian Jaynes used the term ‘voices of the gods’ to describe the magic feeling that often accompanies this state of mind, which is echoed by architect Louis Kahn, who said: “You cannot make a building unless you are joyously engaged.” A final caution about doing drawing that is engaging to the audience as well as the artist is given by Dr. Edwards. Graphically, there is a point where the image is just right, and any additions will make it “over worked.” To help us grasp this, she advises leaving details out, to let the incomplete-yet-just-right image activate viewer completion. Viewers enjoy being drawn into forming the “gestalt” (whole) image from the parts presented. Just as artists enjoy doing a drawing, viewers like seeing graphics that turn on their (right brain) powers of imagination by providing just enough visual information to spark participation. For this, Dr. Edwards points to the power of depicting shades of light, and reducing to drawing shadows only (picture an image that only shows shadows – and you are still able to recognize the form). “The right brain seems undeterred by missing pieces of information and appeats to delight in ‘getting’ the picture, despite its incompleteness…By suggesting a form with light/shadow shapes, you cause the viewer to see something that is not actually there.” Here’s how she teaches drawing that activates viewer involvement. “As you are drawing, constantly squint your eyes to see if you can yet ‘se’ the form you intend. And when you ‘see’ it – that is, the envisioned image is there – stop!” For added subtlety, she proceeds from drawing pure black shadows as the only information to using “crosshatching” as a way to add tonal variety in the depth of darkness depicted. The next approach for varying darkness is “continuous tone” drawing that blends marks by rubbing (to smooth) and erasing (to lighten) areas or points to heighten interest. With any of these techniques, knowing the exact moment to stop is the art of the art. THINKING WITH VISUALS Grasping Seven Graphics Seven types of graphics identified by the illustrative facilitator David Sibbet support various ways we focus our attention. 1. Posters focus attention on one point. 2. Lists support attention onto a series of points. 3. Clusters prompt interest in forming comparison between multiple points. 27 4. Grids structure combinations into sets of points. 5. Diagrams depict cause-and-effect relationships and time sequences that connect many points. 6. Drawings of metaphors and analogies extend understanding from familiar things to new areas of knowledge, as we find similarities between different things. 7. Mandalas organize myriad points into a unified system. In Visual Thinking, Robert McKim advises keeping a visual journal to practice observation by sketching things and developing ideas. This improves perceptiveness, which enhances imagination. Observing actual situations feeds ability to envision potential improvements. For design, the process of developing ideas is a cyclical one that involves doing a series of drawings as quick sketches to explore different versions of a concept. Getting an idea out into graphic form supports the crystallization of embryonic images that grow from fuzzy to focused, through rounds of (iterative) drawings and reviews, done in quick visualization cycles. McKim writes: “Visual thinkers who use drawings to explore and develop ideas make many drawings; idea-finding and formation is not a static, ‘one-picture’ procedure. They also draw quickly (ideas rarely hold still; they readily change form and even disappear). In both the exploratory and the developmental mode, graphic ideators also use many graphic idioms.” He gives examples of various idioms that can be kept in notebooks, on index cards, and paper rolls to stretch out thinking: 1. Charts 2. Flowcharts 3. Diagrams 4. Graphs 5. Orthographic projections (plans) 6. Cartoons 7. Decision trees 8. Maps 9. Doodles 10. Designs MAKING MIND MAPS We need ways to express lots of information and ideas rapidly, instead of getting stuck on considerations of perfect wording or linear logic that constrict the free flow of playfully productive thinking. Brainstorming has been widely applied for this purpose. In addition, mind mapping is a powerful method for organizing thinking and spawning innovation. For this, mind mapping integrates visual and verbal intelligence, in unison. Plus, it includes emotional overtones, as color is added to different symbols and words, along with gestural emphasis (by thickening lines, enhancing key words, sketching related symbols) to enhance different aspects. Because innovation involves finding new associations, mind mapping aids in linking associations in branching patterns that form a coherent image of many points at once, to reveal a rich array of relationships in a powerful pattern. 28 An overall goal is to see several sides of any issue and activate adaptive thinking. To assure flexibility, words should be singled out rather than placed in phrases that have only one interpretation. Each word should serve as a node that can branch in different directions. Making a mind map with a tree-like branching hierarchy from a central topic to finer and finer subsets is the graphic method recommended by the originator of this visual thinking process, Tony Buzan. Consider the points depicted in successively finer branches as clusters of fruits (grapes). Scan the whole tree to see if points in different clusters can be recombined in new pods of odd combinations that have fertile potential. To make a mind map is fairly easy. First, note a central idea in the middle of an empty paper or wall chart (white board, or other medium). Draw a branch off that central idea to a new node for noting a related point…and branch from that node to related sets of subtopics. Start a new branch to continue with another topic node and its subtopics. Fill in more topics in the same way, and add more points to each one by hopping from topic to topic, as ideas occur. Add images, color, and graphic emphasis to enhance meanings to create a memorable mind map with emotional resonance as a graphic with gestural vigor. (Note: using sticky notes is another method for adding notes to clusters of topics, to retain adaptability, more like a collage, rather than writing notes in permanent positions.) To explain why mind mapping works, he says: "Our brains tend to look for pattern and completion…The Mind Map allows an infinite sequence of associative 'probes' which comprehensively investigate any idea or question with which you are concerned…we have taken the word, the sentence, logic and number as the foundation stones of our civilization, forcing our brains to use limiting modes of expression…we know that the brain contains vast power waiting to be unleashed…(with) a fuller range of associative outputting and Radiant Thinking capabilities…Notes…by Leonardo da Vinci demonstrate the point. He used words, symbols, sequence, listing, linearity, analysis, association, visual rhythm, numbers, imagery, dimension and gestalt - an example of a complete mind expressing itself completely…We could all utilize the same inherent mental power…We have a staggeringly complex cortex, with a wide range of advanced mental skills, an infinite associative capacity, a virtually limitless storage capacity, and a similarly limitless ability to generate new ideas and associations…(but) in attempting to gain access to (these)…vast mental capabilities…(we) are squeezing (our)…intelligences…through the incredibly narrow and restrictive channel of language." Mind maps can be used to support decision-making by adding numerical values to each topical area drawn. By defining the importance of each set of topics, criteria for making choices can be clarified for easier assessment of complex, overlapping considerations. The uses of mind maps are multifold. They support self-analysis, problem solving, and action scheduling. They aid idea generation, systemic analysis, memory retention and retrieval, and can serve instead of an outline for organizing a free flowing presentation. Alternative communications that emphasize different points for audiences with contrasting perspectives can also be organized by making maps with alternative central points and branches, to feed into the central premise the points that are most appropriate for each audience. As a study aid, mind maps can be used to sum up (one person or a group’s) response to a book, movie, or other source of information – by quickly integrating key words in branching patterns that can serve as the basis for organizing subsequent communications, in the form of reports, stories, slide shows, videos, etc. As a 29 scheduling aid, mind maps can have a central time keeping symbol, defined by any temporal division, from hours to seasons to years. Plus, by making mind maps in successive cycles, with time for incubation to access deeper levels of dream-thought in between active mapping, visual thinking can be enriched by adding in details that emerge over time. The whole goal is to symbolize rich sets of associations all at once, to spark awareness that generates inventiveness. Groups can use mind maps to connect collective knowledge, upgrade decision making, and streamline teamwork to the degree that everyone is engaged in producing and perceiving all the parts that create the company or community that each person energizes. One method for group use is to have small teams (of 3 or 4 people) begin mind maps, then ask each team to pass their map to another small team, for them to add more branches of new associations. This adds perspectives that can yield more fruitful combinations of ideas. Like harvest festivals, mind maps pack a lot of interrelationships into an organic package. In Thinkertoys, Michael Mihalko gives an example (calling his version of mind mapping a “Think Bubble”) for solving the challenge of marketing consulting services: “I write the essence of the challenge, ‘marketing consulting services,’ in the center of the page and draw a bubble around it. Then, I free-associate another thought about the challenge. I write it. I draw a bubble around it and draw a line connecting it to the original. I continue to write whatever comes to mind, drawing bubbles and connecting related think bubbles with lines…The clusters of bubbles stimulate…ideas to help…market consulting services: 1. Marketing through referrals: Involving former clients and non-clients, such as bankers and trade association executives. 2. Personal marketing: Cold-calling, writing personal letters, and joining professional organizations. 3. Non-personal marketing: Direct mail, public relations, publishing, and advertising. 4. Targets of influence: Including other professionals who serve the same clients, decision makers in client organizations, managers and directors of trade and professional associations, and leaders of industry. 5. Target of opportunity: Including former clients with new needs, potential clients, and targeted market niches. Tony Buzan suggests the following guidelines for creating Mind Maps: 1. Start in the center with an image of the topic, using at least 3 colors. 2. Use images, symbols, codes, and dimensions throughout your Mind Map. 3. Select key words and print using upper or lower case letters. 4. Each word/image is best alone and sitting on its own line. 5. The lines should be connected, starting from the central image. The central lines are thicker, organic and thinner as they radiate out from the centre. 6. Make the lines the same length as the word/image they support. 7. Use multiple colors throughout the Mind Map, for visual stimulation and also to encode or group. 8. Develop your own personal style of Mind Mapping. 30 9. Use emphasis and show associations in your Mind Map. 10. Keep the Mind Map clear by using radial hierarchy, numerical order or outlines to embrace your branches. This list is itself more concise than a prose version of the same information and the Mind Map of these guidelines is itself intended to be more memorable and quicker to scan than either the prose or the list. BUSTING CONCEPTUAL BLOCKS Sometimes, we get stuck in trying to solve a big, sticky problem. In such cases, solutions come from breaking problems down into more manageable parts, and defining incremental interventions that are within reach, with an emphasis on step one. Once we define a first step in the right direction, we can imagine how to grow momentum by organizing successive steps. The goal of making incremental improvements is to grow momentum toward complete solution of the original problem. In Conceptual Blockbusting, James Adams sums up prevalent obstacles to effective problem solving: PERCEPTUAL BLOCKS Difficulty Isolating The Real Problem (as an end to attain) Delimiting The Problem Area Too Narrowly Inability to See The Problem from Various Viewpoints Seeing Only What Is Already Expected (Stereotyping) Ignoring The Most Familiar and Obvious Failure To Utilize All Sensory Inputs (Over Reliance on Abstract Concepts) EMOTIONAL BLOCKS Fears: Risk Aversion Distaste for Chaotic Messiness Habitual Critical Judgment and Inability To Incubate Lack of Challenge Excessive Zeal Undervalue of Fantasy INTELLECTUAL and EXPRESSIVE BLOCKS Incorrect Symbol Language (misplacing verbal, visual, and numerical “languages”) Inadequate Symbolic Language Skills Inflexible or Inadequate Intellectual Strategies Incorrect or Absent Information 31 CULTURAL and ENVIRONMENTAL BLOCKS Autocratic, Authoritarian Leadership Lack of a Support System To Actualize Ideas Distrust Amongst Colleagues, Lack of Cooperation, Unhelpful Criticism Distractions, Intrusions, Interruptions, etc. Taboos against: Humor; Intuition; Imagination; Playfulness; Change from Tradition To overcome conceptual blocks, Adams recommends a variety of cognitive tactics: Questioning Attitude - Example: “constructive discontent” described in The Universal Traveler. A Soft-Systems Guide to Creativity, Problem-Solving, and the Process of Design by Jim Bagnall and Don Koberg Fluency and Flexibility of Thinking Thinking Aids - Example: Check Lists for New Ideas - Understanding The Problem - Devising The Plan - Carrying Out The Plan - Examining The Solution Obtained Alternative Thinking Languages: Visual Thinking; Other Sensory Languages Unconscious Blockbusting: Brainstorming; Synectics BEING CREATIVE IN SUCCESSIVE STAGES In Maps of The Mind, Charles Hampden-Turner depicts creativity as being like a breathing process of expansion and contraction: "Creative thinking is conceived as involving two sequential stages of processing information, divergent thinking followed by convergent thinking. Divergence is the making of the many from the one. Convergence is the making of one from many. Mind is conceived as constantly branching out. Before narrowing to a point of decision, creative persons will typically reformulate and elaborate the problem as presented, teasing out alternative strands and possibilities to generate an 'excess' of materials, symbolized by 'a branching tree.' At the mid-point between divergence and convergence, they intuit that the new necessary ingredients of a new synthesis. The humanities are idealized as divergent, the sciences as convergent." Creativity grows through phases like breathing: expanding and contracting…stretching and squeezing. These phases have been called “inspiration” and “perspiration” to denote the joy of discovery and endurance needed to bring ideas to fruition. Maslow also defined “primary" creativity as the formative phase where ideas arise, followed by "secondary" creativity where realization of concepts takes a different perspective, with patient perserverance. Edward de Bono defined these polar phases of creativity "vertical" and "lateral" thinking. Lateral thinking generates seminal concepts. Vertical thinking distills them into final form. In Thinkertoys, Michael Michalko shares a story about how Walt Disney cultivated creativity by rotating through three perspectives. “Walt Disney allowed his vivid imagination to produce fantastical ideas, uncritically and unrestrained. Later, he engineered these fantasies 32 into feasible ideas and then evaluated. To evaluate them, he would shift his perspective three times by playing three separate and distinct roles: the dream, the realist, and the critic.” Building momentum with flights of imagination before practical thinking enabled Disney to tap inventiveness. ADAPTING ATTITUDES TO FREE CREATIVITY “Positive change depends on developing the collective self-confidence to overcome messages that would have us believe we are powerless.” (Frances Moore Lappe, Food First, Beyond The Myth of Scarcity). Having the right attitude is essential for being creative. In fact, a dynamic perspective comes from pairing opposing perspectives, especially optimism and discontent. Optimistic discontent breeds creativity by providing both aggravation and hope as motivators. As long as the dominant sense is one of faith in positive prospects, discontent and optimism can act like a dynamo to generate creativity. In Whack On The Side of The Head, by Roger von Oech, creativity consultant Roger von Oech summed up attitude shifts that help groups generate innovation. LIMITING ATTITUDES CREATIVE ATTITUDES Insist on one correct answer Combine elements of several solutions Be totally logical Diverge + converge (magic before logic) Set inflexible rules Make rules serve reasoning Restrict playfulness Encourage interplay Specialize Mix disciplines to spread knowledge Avoid ambiguities See gaps, paradoxes, fuzzy beginnings Never appear foolish Fool around to lighten up Avoid or hide failure Learn from mistakes SEEDING BRAINSTORMS To lift the likelihood that lightning will strike when groups gather, it helps to “seed” the brainstorm by tipping mates off about what the topic(s) for brainstorming will be. Giving partners time to incubate ideas adds time for tapping deeper psychological reserves of everyone’s dreaming minds. 33 In generative thinking (brainstorming) there are no scoreboards, critics or censors. In this phase, unlike decision-making, the point is to expand options, spot opportunities, and invent wild hybrids. Cheer on wilder ideas. Make up more. Blend them together. Build on others. Go for the moon. Don’t listen to doubters. Forget nit picking. Let ideas fly. Tend one topic at a time. Stretch each other’s minds. Think the unthinkable. Alex Osborn's Applied Imagination popularized brainstorming by pointing out that creativity comes from a blend of individual and collective ideation. In Lateral Thinking, Edward de Bono added: Use brainstorming to blend and extend ideas, not just collect them Create a safe place to share, blend, and extend diverse knowledge Omit those who are too fearful to be productive Let people who are too afraid of saying something "dumb" work alone Add preparation time before and after group sessions Dr. de Bono also pointed out that the way a subject is stated affects outcomes. Overly broad statements, such as “better traffic control” tend to spawn too widely divergent results. Overly narrow goal statements, such as “improved traffic lights” tend to elicit narrowed responses. He suggests a good starting statement is like: “Methods of improving traffic flow given the present arrangement of roads.” This defines what is open to change, along with what is fixed (not flexible). Teaming Up Any team size between 5 and 15 works. People should choose their own groups, unless breaking up cliques is needed for cross-pollinating diverse perspectives. If assigning teams seems too controlling, use randomizing. “Pick a number between one and four…' is an example of a randomizing (to form four groups). Then, “All ones join other ones, all twos join other twos…” (etc.). Drawing numbers from a bag (or hat) is another method for randomizing team assignments. In teams, people should build on each other's ideas and fill in gaps. Rules of thumb for participation include: Say anything - no matter how wild, crazy or seemingly wrong Do not criticize or evaluate during brainstorming Sum up points (don’t make speeches to prove points) Let the recorder stay in sync Let the facilitator guide the group To guide the group without controlling outcomes: Keep criticism and evaluation mum during brainstorming 34 Let each person speak without being cut off Let ideas pop up like popcorn, without controlling “turns” Invite silent members to speak without pressure Make accurate notes openly as brainstorming progresses Note gaps by reviewing points in progress Offer ways to re-think issues and invite others to suggest approaches Keep focus on central purpose as ideas expand End session at agreed time; end earlier if group agrees; or call for a vote on extending time Tell how the brainstorm's outcomes will be evaluated Evaluating Outcomes Take time out between brainstorming before evaluating outcomes. Assessment can be by one person, a small team, or the entire team…as long as it is a separate activity. For this phase, sorting items helps identify: Immediately useful ideas – proven in similar contexts Points for more exploration - insights found in wild ideas and concepts to test Approaches to take further – appealing ideas for further examination Discards – items that fail to elicit interest or confidence Spotting Themes To spot main themes, de Bono observes: “A dominant idea is the organizing theme in a way of looking at a situation. Unless one can convert a vague awareness to a definite pattern it is…difficult to generate alternative patterns, alternative ways of looking at the situation. In a defining situation one picks out the dominant idea not in order to be frozen by that idea but in order to be able to generate alternative ideas. One of the main purposes of picking out the dominant idea is to be able to escape from it. One can more easily escape from something definite than from something vague. Liberation from rigid patterns and the generation of alternative patterns are the aims of lateral thinking. Both processes are made much easier if one can pick out the dominant idea.” Revolving Perspectives “The dominant idea may include the whole subject or only one aspect of it. A crucial factor is some element of the situation that must always be included no matter how one looks at the situation. The crucial factor is a tethering point. Like a dominant idea a crucial factor can immobilize a situation and make it impossible to shift a point of view. Like a dominant idea a crucial factor may exert a powerful influence without ever being consciously recognized. The dominant idea organizes the situation. The crucial factor tethers it and though some mobility is allowed this is restricted.” Example: In designing a way to pick apples, compare a child’s perspective with an engineer’s: for engineers – it’s the advantage over manual labor; for children – it’s getting the apples. 35 Questioning Assumptions “Very often a crucial factor is an assumption. Crucial factors restrict the way the problem could be looked at. As with finding the dominant idea what matters is that one identifies what seems to be a crucial factor in one’s own view of the problem. Whether it is really crucial or whether other people would think so does not matter for one picks it out only to challenge its necessity. In looking for the dominant idea one wants to know, ‘why are we always looking at this thing in the same way. In looking for the crucial factor one wants to know, ‘what is holding us up, what is keeping us to this old approach?’” SKY BRIDGING IDEAS In Jump Start Your Brain, Doug Hall shares a method of innovation he calls Skybridging. Like reverse engineering, it begins by stating a desired end goal and a current state, to create a sense of here and there – between the actual and potential situation. Then, drawing line segments to interim points between the two states, current and future, plot a variety of routes – beginning with the most obvious ideas at the lowest (bridge) level…layering successively higher (bridge) levels with more an more outlandish ideas. Hall recommends bridging in both directions, starting at the future end and working backwards, and starting at the beginning state and working onward. Making a graphic to depict the most conventional (seemingly safe) routes from here to there, along with progressively “crazier” approaches helps identify and compare options. Going back and forth aids thinking, also, by avoiding spending too much time at sticking points. Just jump to a different bridge to prompt more memories of details and mental pictures of sequential steps to keep strategic thinking fluid. APPLYING 9 KINDS OF LEARNING Dr. Dawna Markova has proven that “unteachable” students flourish when given ways to learn that connect visual, verbal and tactile-kinetic perceptions with conscious, subconscious and unconscious mental powers. In this test, paraphrased from How Your Child Is Smart, you can briefly assess preferred modes of learning. 1. Conscious Mind x 3 Perceptual Modes If your conscious mind uses the kinesthetic channel, you: Learn and remember physical things easily Enjoy athletic competition Are more alert when moving or using hands. If your conscious mind uses the auditory channel, you: Easily learn and remember things that are heard. Feel naturally comfortable speaking in front of people. Are most alert when speaking. 36 If your conscious mind uses the visual channel, you: Easily learn things that are seen. Are naturally comfortable being seen, writing, and showing ideas? Organize visually by making lists, writing things down, making things look neat. 2. Sub-Conscious Mind x 3 Perceptual Modes If your subconscious mind uses the kinesthetic channel, you: Sort things out by trying options or exploring different approaches. Pay attention outwardly by moving, and inwardly by feeling. Sometimes feel pulled in opposite directions. If your subconscious mind uses the auditory channel, you: Sort things out by talking out loud. Pay attention outwardly by speaking and inwardly by listening. Can talk and listen simultaneously, and process both sides of discussion. If your subconscious mind uses the visual channel, you: Sort things out by writing, drawing, and visualizing options. See outward things and inward images simultaneously. See things from multiple perspectives at the same time. 3. Un-Conscious Mind x 3 Perceptual Modes If your unconscious mind uses the kinesthetic channel, you: "Space out" when touched or in motion. Feel shy about expressing self through movement or touch. Find it easier to express overall feelings than pinpoint specific sensations. Easily forget how to do physical things. If your unconscious mind uses the auditory channel, you: "Space out" when listening to too many words. Are shy and/or private when talking, especially to strangers or groups. Can easily forget what was said, fail to recall names, but remember tone of voice. If your unconscious mind uses the visual channel, you: "Space out" when looking at something for too long. 37 Can be shy when expressing self in writing or drawing. Find it easier to recall the big picture than details. Easily forget what has been seen or read Dr. Markova’s methods are confirmed by Neuro-Linguistic Programming methods. By observing eye motions of a person being questioned, we can see what type of thinking they are using, from six core types: Eye Movements VISUAL CONSTRUCTION – upward to their VISUAL RECALL – upward to their left means right means the mind’s eyes is activated, memories stored as images are being scanned exploring imagination AUDITORY CONSTRUCTION – sideways to their AUDITORY RECALL – sideways to their left right means making up an imagined sound means remembering an experienced sound KINESTHETIC CONSTRUCTION – downward to INTERNAL DIALOG – downward to their left their right means imagining a physical feelings means assembling a narrative Dr. Markova advises: “Information is most easily retained and retrieved when the process follows a certain sequence – when information is first received by our conscious minds, then sorted by our subconscious minds, and finally integrated by our unconscious minds. What make one instrument different from another is the way each of the three states of consciousness is linked to the three channels of though (visual, auditory, kinesthetic). There are six different combinations possible. These six are what I call personal thinking patterns, ways of moving thought, of metabolizing, digesting, processing experience.” CONSCIOUS SUBCONSCIOUS UNCONSCIOUS Visual Auditory Kinesthetic VAK Visual Kinesthetic Auditory VKA Auditory Kinesthetic Visual AKV Auditory Visual Kinesthetic AVK Kinesthetic Visual Auditory KVA Kinesthetic Auditory Visual KAV “It is these patterns that are reflected in our different ways of doing things. It is these patterns that determine the most comfortable and effective way for each of us to learn something…A some point in a child’s life, usually by first grade, one particular track becomes his or her preferred way of digesting experience…Changing back and forth would be as confusing for us as it might be if we were right-handed and left-handed every other day.” While no one exactly fits the general framework Dr. Markova offers, it is still helpful to use her theory and methodology to identify overall tendencies in yourself and others, to discern different ways we process information. 38 AKV AVK KVA KAV VAK VKA Language Speaks with Similar to AKV, Soft spoken, Talks with Speaks with Mostly quiet, Characteristics feeling and with more long silences, hands, feeling, tells uses hands, rhythm with logic and less concise teaches stories, sorts speaks from a big rhyme statements activities, ideas, likes to experience in vocabulary tells stories persuade circling way Visual Eye shy, Steady eye Steady eyes - Eye shy, gets Likes eye Likes eye Characteristics messy contact, messy may blink and big picture in contact, contact, keeps writing, writing, ability flutter. Sees a glance, keeps lists lists and visual simple to flex mental big picture makes piles and visual notes with drawings, images and details to organize, notes with neat sees big and many messy neat handwriting picture angles handwriting handwriting Physical Pent up Sketchy sense Interacts Interacts Sketchy body Pent up Characteristics energy, good of body; likes easily, easily, sense, shy to energy, good athlete, likes free activities athletic, likes athletic, like touch, athlete, likes sports over sports sports, likes sports, likes prefers free sports, shy to touching touching activities touch Learning Learns by Learns by ear Hands on Hands on Avid reader, Good reading Strengths and ear, likes and reading, learning-by- learning-by- top writing by sight (not Challenges hands-on, finds hands-on doing, doing, skills, phonics), written difficult struggles struggles struggles learns by instruction is with lectures with reading, with hands- watching, hardest and writing, on learning & struggles with discussions spelling new skills listening Spaces Out Too much Touch and Long verbal Too much Touch and Long verbal visual input questioning explanations, visual input questioning explanations feelings questions feelings and questions Typical Interrupts, Interrupts, Can get Can be Can be a Can be whiner Troubles wisecracks, monopolizes, sullen and hyper-active show off, too or just go with fools around asks “why” withdrawn and fidgety helpful groupthink Frustrations Turning Putting Wording Needs Estimating Thinking visions into feelings into feelings is outlets for time is independently reality words difficult energy difficult is hard Talents Visionary Great Nature lover, Great doer – Great Great partner, with many communicator, with many loves action, teacher – networker, great ideas, exchanging dissimilar wants to be loves show cooperator wants to ideas, being interests they useful to and tell inspire helpful like to unite others INNOVATING BY COLLABORATING “Beware of the man with one book” is a saying intended to warn us of trusting those (including ourselves) who look at life too narrowly, without considering the legitimacy of others’ perspectives. “To a man with a hammer, every problem looks like a nail” is meant to remind us that we need many tools to solve varied problems, and that using the tools we are most familiar with may limit outcomes or make things worse. For example, reliance on high- tech medicine distributed in high-priced (hospital) centers for crisis intervention is considered a sign of progress, since the tools are sophisticated. But their use may be dumb. How can smart 39 tools be used stupidly? In the case of health care, the effectiveness of costly conventions is suspect, since healthcare-system-induced deaths are the third leading cause of the death in the U.S. - after heart disease and cancer, according the World Health Education Initiative. Ultimately, we have to question the motives for using smart tools to produce dumb outcomes. Syndromes of social ills may be traceable to an ultimate source with a singular trait, like a gene that spawns a syndrome of ills. In the realm of ideas, the equivalent of genes are memes. in The Ten Faces of Innovation, IDEO's Tom Kelly has defined ten types of innovators who create value in organizations by cross fertilizing their company’s collective capacity through ingenious collaboration. Anthropologist Learns by empathic immersion into others' lives and contexts Experimenter Tries new ideas making prototypes and rough drafts for fast feedback Cross-Pollinator Blends diverse cultures and expertise to spot potential and spark ideas Hurdler Overcomes barriers by learning-from-let-downs to invent new means Collaborator Blends with eclectic experts and diverse groups, to lead from inside out Director Forms talented teams to fast track raised results by sparking interplay Experience Architect Connects with deep common interests in creating a "buzz" Set Designer Makes contexts that support smart teamwork (applying ergonomics) Caregiver Anticipates needs that include intangibles beyond simplistic services Storyteller Links legends, values, ethos, pathos, credos, logos to grow social bonds SPRING BOARDING WITH SYNECTICS To get new ideas by remixing old ones is the purpose of Synectics. The name derives from the Greek word ‘synektiktein’ – meaning the joining of different things. Four kinds of metaphors are applied to remix different things for discovering new ideas: Personal Analogy – identify yourself with part or all of the problem and its solution Direct Analogy – solve the problem by applying parallel facts, knowledge, technology, or whatever Symbolic Analogy – identify part or all of the problem and its solution with an impersonal object or image Fantasy Analogy – solve the problem by applying fantasy Introductory Exercise 1. Describe A Topic: Select a topic then describe it, either in small group discussions or individually writing a brief paragraph. 2. Create Direct Analogies: Select another topic and make a list of same/similar characteristics as the first one (using direct analogy to make comparisons). To enrich (whole brain) thinking, generate vivid images. 3. Describe Personal Analogies: Select one of the direct analogies and create personal analogies, i.e., “become it” and describe what it feels like to be that object. 4. Identify Compressed Conflicts: Pair words from the lists that seem to fight each other. Explain why. Choose a compressed couple to work on further (by a quick vote). 40 5. Create a New Direct Analogy: With the compressed conflict pair chosen, create a different direct analogy by selecting something that is described by the paired words. 6. Reexamine the Original Topic: Return to the original point to produce a outcome (product, service, strategy, etc.) that utilizes ideas generated in the process, from the final analogy or any other. For the best results, after each step, let the results rest for awhile; then do the next step. This gives time for ideas to incubate and form deeper associations. Springboarding Springboarding is a way of prompting other’s thinking by wording of ideas with prefix statements like: “I wish” or “How can” and “Wouldn’t it be nice if…” Wishing prefixes are used for speculative ideas. “How to” prefixes are used for solving specific problems. Springboard statements invite addition (for completion) by listeners, to help the presenter. Saying “I wish…” invites people to think about how another’s wish might be realized. Wording ideas as springboards helps attract support for ideas like “I wish the mail delivered itself” rather than flatly saying “The mail should deliver itself” – which elicits little interest or involvement. Trigger Questions One tactic is to use trigger questions for prompting analysis and synthesis. How? When beginning to think about a subject, list words that relate to it, as physical aspects, processes, emotional associations, or anything else. To come up with trigger questions, consider modifying characteristics, such as: compare, subtract, add, transfer, superimpose, change, scale, substitute, fragment, isolate, distort, disguise, contradict, parody, hybridize, metamorphose, symbolize, repeat, combine…and so forth. The results of transformative thinking can be captured on paper, whiteboard, or software. Headlining and In-Out Listening When sharing an idea, we tend to start with justification about the need for the idea, then give the idea, then add more justification. What are listeners doing during all this? Once they get the gist of the idea, they are thinking about other ideas…instead of paying attention to our extensive pitch. To handle this, ‘headlining’ means giving the idea up-front, and adding clarification only if requested (similar to Seymour Papert’s statement that educators should put “logic on tap, not on top”). ‘In-Out Listening’ is for listeners to write down ideas as they occur, then quickly return to paying full attention, rather than rehearsing their thoughts and trying to find a time to interrupt with their contribution. Problem-ownership To prevent the stifling effect of judgmental evaluation, appointing a single problem owner and asking all others to help that person solve their problem is helpful. People can take turns being the problem owner to overcome being blinkered by biased views of the situation, through investing many perspectives. This encourages ideas which may seem ridiculous, but spark discoveries of smart solutions. 41 Excursions When ideas have dried up, yet more ideas could still be found, if we could get unstuck, “Excursions” are exercises for going off the beaten track into entirely different domains to find ideas that can be brought back and used. The co-inventor of Synectics, George Prince, emphasized reduction of inhibitions for release of creativity, with practices for assuring that supportive intentions are integral to the experience. His “Creative Behaviour” tools extended to situations beyond invention sessions (e.g. conflict resolution). Co-inventor William Gordon emphasized metaphors “to make the familiar strange and the strange familiar" in his tenet: "Trust things that are alien, and alienate things that are trusted." Both encouraged thorough problem-analysis for generation of surprising solutions. Synectics is more complex (needing more time and effort) than brainstorming; but is better for turning ideas into actions, with more commitment for implementation. DESIGNING WITH MAGIC LOGIC (HEURISTICS) Unlike doing math problems (and other algorithms) with just one right answer produced by following a proven set of steps, innovation applied the magic logic of “heuristics” for discovery new solutions by mixing existing elements in fresh combinations. Because (right- brain) intuition, empathic emotion, and ethical imagination are involved, collaborative innovation that serves common causes develops community capacity for creativity, resilience, wisdom, peacefulness, playfulness, and more. Like good journalism and pure research, doing design starts by questioning how things work. By exploring how things work, ideas arrive, as if by magic. Images bubble up from a veiled wellspring. By foregoing the comfort of accepting old conclusions – in clichés, childhood beliefs, emotionalized judgments, divisive ideologies, and so forth – the “beginner’s mind” invites fresh insight. Sometimes, ideas arrive in full flower, having grown in a veiled realm before being revealed fully formed, like Mozart’s music. Other times, ideas evolve from fuzzy to focused forms, by adding and subtracting elements until the best blend is found. Like Beethoven’s scribbled scores, some designs develop through conscious revisions. Doing design explores many ways to achieve intended outcomes. Doing design develops ability to assess set backs, find what’s working, and make corrective changes. By perceiving influences, finding facts, generating ideas, assessing alternatives, and testing successive tactics, design is an adventure of exploring possibilities that eventually lead to new solutions (in the form of products, services, scientific advances, creative arts, etc.) The benefits of doing design can't be replaced by reliance on outside experts, because creative abilities develop by doing design. Doing design develops personal character along with creativity. Courage and creativity are entwined. When practiced in teams, companies, and communities, groups can achieve a state of synergy. Personal and collective capacity grow by 42 the exercising the kind of mindfulness applied by doing design: spotting opportunities; asking key questions; generating varied ideas; blending facts and ideas into optimum solutions. Creativity comes from exploring alternative scenarios, overcoming blind spots, and inventing adaptive strategies. Inspiration spreads as dialog deepens. By hearing each other and investing the perspectives of all involved, designing spreads wisdom. Patience and mutual appreciation grows by generating ideas and forming wise decisions through dialogue. Collaborative design multiplies the power of many minds working in unison, without sacrificing anyone’s uniqueness, values, knowledge or vision. Unlike “groupthink” - creative collaboration focuses the power of diverse perspectives on common aims. Doing design expresses ethical imagination by envisioning ways to make our world better. Doing design integrates values, beliefs, assumptions, and theories. Doing design means forming ideas to explain what is, plus predict what’s coming, and envision the kind of world we should participate in making. By testing beliefs and assumptions from varied perspectives, doing design confirms truths and avoids traps. By airing aspirations and anxieties, doing design identifies what matters most. Hearing each other's wildest ideas sparks new solutions in fresh combinations that would not have been discovered otherwise. Design-by-dialog pools facts from everyone’s perspective to enrich collective knowledge. A facilitator can help everyone participate by paraphrasing what’s said, to sum up and connect comments as they emerge through dialog. But everyone should agree to keep communication open, direct and constructive. All involved should encourage, validate, reflect, and clarify each other's interests - by asking open-ended questions to elicit facts, feelings, attitudes, aspirations, etc. All this comes from listening to each person’s perspective without interruption, to let thoughts organically emerge with the power of soulfulness. The goal of good discussion is to hear everyone’s experiences and expectations instead of assuming they're already known. For this, invite everyone involved to share stories that enrich each other’s perspectives. By listening actively, look for areas of agreement to build on. Use disagreements as opportunities to learn. Avoid forcing agreement or defending positions. Practice patience in the face of ambiguities, dissonance, and embryonic notions. Ponder ambiguities without rushing to easy answers. Examine assumptions to encourage constructive, critical thinking. Cultivate openness by airing anxieties and graduating discourse to higher levels of harmony. Develop a purpose (common cause, mutual mission, shared aim) to inspire cooperation by uniting diverse interests toward highest intentions. Everyone is enriched on many levels from this kind of discourse. Collective knowledge grows by exchanging examples, sharing insights about trends and innovations. Knowledge gaps are filled in faster with facts pooled by groups. Further research flows naturally from people forming affinity teams to organize information gathering that fits their shared interests. As teams report back to each other in on-going communication forums and media networks, collective knowledge continues to develop the total capacity of everyone involved. 43 WRITING: FROM DEEP TO DONE Keeping Morning Papers Julia Cameron teaches that writing Morning Pages has purposes unlike writing done in school or work. She says the purpose is to be a “brain drain.” The goal is to pour out superficial thoughts to clear the way for deeper revelation. They are done daily, regardless of mood. “Morning pages will teach you that your mood doesn’t really matter. Some of the best creative work gets done on the days when you feel that everything you’re doing is just plain junk. The morning pages will teach you to stop judging and just let yourself write.” Write three pages each day upon arising to express whatever is on you mind, including petty worries, anxieties, and chores to do. “Nothing is too petty, too silly, too stupid, or too weird to be included.” Nobody reads them except you. You don’t read them either, for the first two months or so; stick them in an envelope, or keep a binder without reading your writing. “All that angry, whiny, petty stuff that you write down in the morning stands between you and your creativity. Worrying about the job, the laundry, the funny knock in the car, the weird look in your lover’s eye – this stuff eddies through our subconscious and muddies our days. Get it on the page. The morning pages are the primary tool of creative recovery. As blocked artists, we tend to criticize ourselves mercilessly…We are victims of our own internalized perfectionist, a nasty internal and eternal critic, the Censor, who reside in our (left) brain and keeps up a constant stream of subversive remarks that are often disguised as the truth. “Because there is no wrong way to write the morning pages, the Censor’s option doesn’t count. Let your Censor rattle on. (And it will.) Just keep your hand moving across the page. Write down the Censor’s thoughts if you want to. Note how it loves to aim you’re your creative jugular. Make no mistake: the Censor is out to get you. It’s a cunning foe. Every time you get smarter, so does it...Think of your Censor as a cartoon serpent, slithering around your creative Eden, hissing vile things to keep you off guard…you might want to find a good cartoon image of your Censor...and put an X through it...Just making the Censor into the nasty, clever little character that it is begins to pry loose some of its power over you and your creativity. She says: “When people ask, ‘Why do we write morning pages?’ I joke, ‘To get to the other side.’’ …Morning pages do get us to the other side: the other side of our fear, of our negativity, of our moods. Above all, they get us beyond our Censor. Beyond the reach of the Censor’s babble we find our own quiet center, the place where we hear the still, small voice that is at once our creator’s and our own. As others have recognized, Cameron cites the polar roles of right and left-brain operations, in relation to creativity. “Logic brain is our Censor, our second (and third and 44 fourth) thought. Faced with an original sentence, phrase, paint squiggle, it says, ‘What the hell is that? That’s not right!’” “Artist brain is our inventor, our child, and our very own personal absent-minded professor. Artist brain says, ‘Hey! That is so neat!’ It puts odd things together …Artist brain is our creative, holistic brain. It thinks in patterns and shading. “Any original thought can look pretty dangerous to our Censor...The only sentences/paintings/sculptures/photographs it like are ones that it has seen many times before. Safe sentences. Safe paintings. Not exploratory blurts, squiggles, or jottings. Listen to your Censor and it will tell you that everything original is wrong/dangerous/rotten. The morning pages will teach you to stop listening to that ridicule. They will allow you to detach from your negative Censor.” “It may be useful for you to think of the morning pages as meditation. It may not be the practice of meditation you are accustomed to…but they are a valid form of meditation that gives us insight and helps us affect change in our lives.” The purpose of meditation goes beyond its healthy effects of reducing stress and gaining insights to enabling experience of true identity and “our right place in the scheme of the universe. Through meditation, we acquire and eventually acknowledge our connection to an inner power source that has the ability to transform our outer world. “ “Insight in and of itself is an intellectual comfort. Power in and of itself is a blind force that can destroy as easily as build. It is only when we consciously learn to link power and light that we begin to feel our rightful identities as creative beings. The morning pages allow us to forge thins link. They provide us with a spiritual ham-radio set to contact the Creator Within. For this reason, the morning pages are a spiritual practice.” “It is impossible to write morning pages for any extended period of time without coming into contact with an unexpected inner power…Morning pages map our own interior. Without them, our dream may remain terra incognita…It is very difficult to complain about a situation morning after morning, month after month, without being moved to constructive action The pages lead us out of despair and into undreamed –of solution.” “Anyone who faithfully writes morning pages will be led to a connection with a source of wisdom within. When I am stuck with a painful situation or problem that I don’t think I know how to handle, I will go to the pages and ask for guidance. …The morning pages will work for painters, for sculptors, for poets, for actors, for lawyers, for housewives -0 for anyone who wants to try anything creative.“ Enjoying Artist Dates The two practices of writing your Morning Pages and enjoying your Artist Date act as an energizing polar pair of activities for recharging your creativity and keeping access to it clear. “Think of this combination of tools in terms of a radio receiver and transmitter. It is a two-step, two-directional process: out and then in. Doing your morning pages, you are sending – 45 notifying yourself and the universe of your dreams, dissatisfactions, hopes. Doing your artist date, you are receiving – opening yourself to insight, inspiration, guidance.” “An artist date is a block of time, perhaps two hours weekly, especially set aside and committed to nurturing your creative consciousness, your inner artist. In it most primary form, the artist date is an excursion, a play date that your preplan and defend against all interlopers. You do not take anyone on this artist date but your and your inner artist, a.k.a. your creative ch8ild. That means no lovers, friends, spouses, children – no taggers-on of any stripe.” “Your artist is a child. Time with a parent matters more than monies spent. A visit to a great junk store, a solo trip to the beach, an old movie seen alone together, a visit to an aquarium or an art gallery – these cost time, not money. Remember, it is the time commitment that is sacred.” “Spending time in solitude with your artist child is essential to self-nurturing. A long country walk, a solitary expedition to the beach for a sunrise or a sunset, a sortie out to a strange church to hear gospel music, to an ethnic neighborhood to taste foreign sights and sounds – your artist might enjoy any of these. Or, your artist might like bowling.” She warns: “You are likely to find yourself avoiding your artist dates. Recognize this resistance as a fear of intimacy – self-intimacy. Often in troubled relationships, we settle into an avoidance pattern with our significant others. We don’t want to hear what they are thinking because it just might hurt. So we avoid them…It is possible they will want an answer we don not have and can’t give them. It is equally possible we might do the same to them and that then the two of us will stare at each other in astonishment, say, ‘But I never knew you felt like that!’” “It is probable that these self-disclosures, frightening though they are, will lead to the building of a real relationship, one in which the participants are free to be who they are and to become what they wish.” “The morning pages acquaint us with what we think and what we think we need. We identify problem areas and concerns. We complain, enumerate, identify, isolate, fret. This is step one, analogous to prayer. In the course of the release engendered by our artist date, step two, we begin to hear solutions. Perhaps equally important, we begin to find the creative reserves we will draw on in fulfilling our artistry.” Fishing The Well and Stocking The Pond “Art is an image-using system. In order to create, we draw from our inner well. This inner well, an artistic reservoir, is ideally like a well-stocked trout pond…As artists, we must realize that we have to maintain this artistic ecosystem. If we don’t give some attention to upkeep, our well is apt to become depleted, stagnant, or blocked.” “Any extended period or piece of work draws heavily on our artistic well. Overtapping the well, like overfishing the pond, leaves us with diminished resources. We fish in vain for the 46 images we require. Our work dries up and we wonder why…The truth is that work can dry up because it is going to well.” “As artists, we must learn to be self-nourishing. We must become alert enough to consciously replenishing our creative resources as we draw on them…I call this process filling the well.” “Filling the well involves the active pursuit of images to refresh our artistic reservoirs. Art is born in attention. Its midwife is detail. Art may seem to spring from pain, but perhaps that is because pain serves to focus our attention onto detail…Art may seem to involve broad strokes, grand schemes, great plans. But it is the attention to detail that stay with us; the singular image is what haunts us and becomes art.” “The language of art is image, symbol. It is a wordless language even when our very art is to chase it with words. The artists’ language is a sensual one, a language of felt experience. When we work at our art, we dip into the well of our experience and scoop out images. Because we do this, we need to learn how to put images back. How do we fill the well?” “We feed it images…The artist brain is our image brain, home and haven to our best creative impulses. The artist brain cannot be reached – or triggered – effectively by words along. The artist brain is the sensory brain: sight and sound, smell and taste, touch. These are the elements of magic, and magic is the elemental stuff of art.” “In filling the well, think magic. Think delight. Think fun. Do not think duty. Do not do what you should do – spiritual sit-ups like reading a dull but recommended critical text. Do what intrigues you, explore what interests you; think mystery, not mastery.” “A mystery draws us in, leads us on, lures on…A mystery can be very simple: if I drive this road, not my usual road, what will I see? Changing a known route throws us into the now. We become refocused on the visible, visual world. Sight leads to insight.” She writes of the magic of scents, sounds, and movement, such as dancing to drum music…then reminds us to enjoy everyday experiences. “Filling the well needn’t be all novelty. Cooking can fill the well. When we chop and pare vegetables, we do so with our thoughts as well. Remember, art is an artist-brain pursuit. This brain is reached through rhythm – through rhyme, not reason…Any regular, repetitive action primes the well...Showering, swimming, scrubbing, shaving, steering a car…all of these are regular, repetitive activities that may tip us over from our logic brain into our more creative artist brain. Solutions to sticky creative problems may bubble up through the dishwater, emerge on the freeway just as we are executing a tricky merge…Learn which of these works best for you and use it.” Exchanging Mutual Reviews Writers can help each other by to hearing each other’s writing read aloud to give each other constructive feedback. The goal is to upgrade everyone’s writing by asking fertile 47 questions. This core process, adapted from Peter Elbow’s Writing With Power, can be adapted to other forms of teamwork, including community design. What is the core concern? Is the main idea vivid and relevant? Is the topic universally crucial? Does the writing depict whole systems? Does it venture outside the box of stereotypes, blind faith, and clichés? What are the root causes? Does the writing give supportive examples and relevant evidence for assertions about causal factors? Are complex interrelationships fully explored, or is a hidden bias seemingly blocking well-rounded analysis of inter-relations? What facts have been gathered to support assertions? Are other conclusions possible but missed, if the same facts were interpreted other ways? What counter arguments have been encountered and overcome? Is contradiction handled with a healthy attitude, in the way opposing perspectives are treated? What are the most memorable phrases? What stays in mind from reading this writing (as an afterimage)? Has a highlight (mental) movie set in - connecting key points in cause-and-effect scenarios? Does the work ebb and flow with intriguing rhythms? What are the effects on me? Does the writing move me, make me think, and cause a response that adds meaning? Would I accept the author as an authority on the topic, based on the research and experience displayed in the writing? If not, what's missing? Are any beliefs or assumptions blinding the writing? Or, does it reveal a holistic worldview that is inclusive, fair, and compassionate? What can be enhanced, and what can be reduced? Are there points that deserve further development? Are there issues that tend to detract from the main point(s)? Can some statements be weeded out without weakening the overall message? Can some statements be given greater dimension to enrich the work's highest purpose?