Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Cultivating the Brain’s Creative Potential

by Marcus Conyers

Part Four in a Six-Part Series

The word education is derived from the latin root e-ducere, which means “to lead out.” Experiences literally shape the brain, and the neurocognitive systems associated with creative thinking are malleable. Furthermore, creativity is relatively independent of traditional measures of human potential such as IQ. New research is also overturning the common myth that creativity is a special gift that only a lucky few possess.

The profound implication of these findings is that almost all of us have the capacity to learn to be more creative and innovative. It is now possible to create learning environments and opportunities in classrooms and workplaces that lead out more of the creative potential of all learners.

In our work across North America and Europe and around the world, one thing has become clear: In the hyper-connected innovation age, it is essential that we cultivate the cognitive skills for identifying opportunities and creating, evaluating, and applying new ideas that generate unique, relevant, added value. We need to be both innovative thinkers and entrepreneurial doers. We need to develop innovating minds. 

Every day learners of all ages come to school with their brains powered by some 87 billion to 100 billion neurons. Through brain imaging and other technologies, neuroscientists have begun to identify key neural systems involved in the creative process. The science of creative cognition is expanding our understanding of the cognitive skills that drive the creativity. At the same time, useful theories can be applied in the process of cultivating creative and innovative thinking. 

Note: This post draws from research that Marcus did for an article, “Innovating Minds—What Students Need for the Future,” for Information Age Education (IAE).

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