Creativity and the Brain-Reflection #1

Nov 14, 2016 by

I spent time recently in South Africa attending a colloquium entitled, “Why the Brain Matters”.  There were twelve of us invited to discuss the brain, neuroscience, and learning specifically regarding creativity.  The participants included neuroscientists, artists, authors, and… well, me.  I am an educator concerned with how the brain works, how it impacts education, and how we can better teach children using principles of the brain.  As a special educator, specifically, I am always interested in how we can meet the needs of learners who learn differently.  During the two weeks in Johannesburg, we met every morning to hear one person’s presentation and then we discussed the content critically and along with the creative process– how it can be fostered, what the science says so far, and how we can better understand differences in individuals.  We had colleagues from Uganda, Barbados, Holland, Nepal, Iran, Israel, Switzerland, Kyrgyzstan, and others so it was a very diverse group.  I will be sharing some of my musings from these fascinating talks over the next three weeks.  This is my first reflection.

The first take away is the idea that what we know about creativity starts in the mid-line structures where “daydreaming” and unconscious thought take place as well as in the frontal regions of the brain where the actual “work” is done.  The mid-line allows creative ideas to surface.  The frontal regions provide the discipline and mechanics to allow those creative thoughts to be realized in visual art, music, fictional writing, etc. as well as in creative solutions to problems found in the hard sciences.  Understanding that the brain’s mid-line structures and frontal regions are equally important to the mind (and the process of thinking, managing, processing) is important and is beneficial.  We need to make sure we are providing class time for our students to engage their mid-line… allowing them to daydream, to become “unconscious” about problems so that they can come up with solutions.

What can you do to allow your students time to just sit and ponder?

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1 Comment

  1. Mary Ann Keiser

    This is fascinating. Thank you for sharing. Looking forward to more insight from your meetings.

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