Searching for the Holy Grail

Myths and Mysticism
(article from online source)

If creativity is so accessible, what’s holding back the flood? When you say to a group of a hundred people, “Please raise your hand if you consider yourself to be creative,” why do only 10 hands go up? Why are corporate leaders, government officials, politicians, crime fighters, teachers, and parents all lacking new ideas? Why are art, music, and literature in the hands of a tiny fraction of the population–while the rest of us are mere spectators?

Two answers suggest themselves, and each is disturbing. First, our creative potential is virtually shut down by early schooling. Teachers are the first to admit this. A kindergarten teacher told me recently, “I can’t believe I get paid to have so much fun every day–before the kids get mined.” Ruined? “Well,” he said, “in the first grade the kids have to work all the time. There’s no more time for fun, because there’s so much they’ve got to learn. They’re not even allowed to daydream any more. It’s a wonder that any of them ever grow up to be artists or inventors. In kindergarten, on the other hand, all the kids are artists and inventors.”

There’s another reason why creativity seems to be in short supply: Myths about creativity are deeply entrenched in our culture. Myths have enormous power to shape everyday behavior, often to people’s detriment. When people believe the world is flat, for example, they’re unlikely to venture out to sea very far, and “lands away” remain undiscovered.

When it comes to creativity, myths keep most people firmly shorebound. Only artists have creativity and creativity is rare, we’re told. Creativity is mysterious and magical and divine, people say It’s in your right brain, the headlines swear.

None of these beliefs is true, not even slightly The brain hemisphere distinction is based largely on clinical studies of about 40 “split-brain” patients–people whose brains were severed surgically in order to treat seizures or other neurological problems. The initial studies of such patients, conducted in the 1960s, seemed to show significant functional differences between the left and right cerebral hemispheres. In the 1980s, however, scientists began to reinterpret the data. The problem is split-brain patients all have abnormal brains to begin with.

As a practical matter, the right-hemisphere myth is nonsense because virtually no one has a split brain. The two halves of our brain are connected by an immense structure called the corpus callosum, and the hemispheres also communicate through the sense organs. Creativity has no precise location in the human brain, and people who promise to reactivate your “neural creativity zones” are just yanking your chain.

Enough about myths. What about science? In the 1970s, in animal studies I began at Harvard with behaviorist B. F. Skinner, I became intrigued,–obsessed is more ac-curate–with the fact that much of the interesting behavior we observed in our subjects had never been trained. We would provide certain training, and then new, often very complex, behavior would emerge. Perhaps more important, I eventually realized that the new behavior wasn’t random but that it was related in orderly ways to the behavior that had been trained.

Over the years, students, colleagues became increasingly adept at providing certain minimal training that would inexorably lead to the generation of a specific, complex, new performance–one that could be called “creative.” What ultimately was concluded is that previously established behavior manifests itself in new situations in new yet orderly ways. Novel behavior is truly new, but the particular novel behavior that emerges in a new situation depends on the particular behaviors that were established previously–that is, on prior knowledge. Creativity, in short, is not something mystical; it’s an extension of what you already know. To be more specific, new behaviors (or “ideas”) emerge as old behaviors interact, and the process by which behaviors interact is orderly.

Say you start to turn a door knob that has always turned easily It won’t budge. At first, you start to turn the knob harder; then perhaps you pull up on the knob or push it down. Then maybe you wiggle it. Eventually, you shove the door with your shoulder or kick it with your foot. What you do will depend on your history with doors. Eventually, you’ll shout for help–maybe even call out for “mommy,” even if your mother is no longer among the living.

Unexpected Moments

Try not to Control Everything in Your Life

Many times it is the unsuspecting moments that guide us to creativity.   Creativity requires a challenge to start a flow of new ideas, then a way to capture them.

When it comes to creativity, there’s good news and very good news. The good news is that the mysteries of the creative process are finally giving way to a rigorous scientific analysis. The very good news is that, with the right skills, you can boost your own creative output by a factor of 10 or more. Significant creativity is within everyone’s reach–no exceptions. What’s more, greater creativity breeds greater happiness. The creative process is itself a source of joy for most people. And with new creative powers we’re also better able to solve the little problems that beset us daily.

*This information was garnered from an online source.

More is Better

More Training, More Creative

Here’s a deceptively simple fact: for repertoires of behavior to contribute to the generative process, they must first exist. In other words, the more training you have and the more diverse that training is, the greater the potential for creative output. Letting kids float around a classroom from one “activity center” to another is not the way to go; when we’re on our own, we gravitate toward a very narrow range of learning opportunities. The creative process is spurred on by multiple well-established repertoires of behavior. Traditional, structured, aggressive methods of teaching and training have special value in laying a foundation for creativity

A contradiction? Didn’t I say that first-grade teachers were monsters who stifled creativity by doing too much teaching? The problem with traditional education is not that it teaches diverse subjects or subjects that lack apparent utility; the problem is that it doesn’t allocate any time and training for creativity as such. Kids need to learn things that they don’t want to learn–not just to become good citizens, but also to become more creative people.

If you want to enhance your own creativity, take courses in subjects you know nothing about. Once a year, at least, take a course at a local college in the last thing you’d ever want to know about. Land’s own breakthrough invention came about because of training he had in crystallography, chemistry, and other fields. The invention of Velcro, the modern theory of electron spin, and countless other advances were made possible because their creators had training in diverse fields.

— the above info was found online — 

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What Is Creativity?


The connections in our mind converge and new ideas are generated. But there is a certain mystery and awe in our creative facilities. This intangible process makes our creative process and output somewhat unpredictable and serendipitous.

How do you maximize such an ephemeral and yet essential process? I don’t claim to know all the answers, but there are some easy things anyone can do to help you with all of them.

— the above info was found online —