Monday, September 27, 2010

Commentary: On Creativity and the Brain

By Renee George
Creativity + Social Change, University of Connecticut
Media Reviewed:

TED - February 2008: Jill Bolte Taylor's Stroke of Insight
Jill Bolte Taylor got a research opportunity few brain scientists would wish for: She had a massive stroke, and watched as her brain functions -- motion, speech, self-awareness -- shut down one by one. An astonishing story. Brain researcher Jill Bolte Taylor studied her own stroke as it happened -- and has become a powerful voice for brain recovery.

Jill Bolte Taylor is an neuroanatomist who suffered a stroke. She experienced herself having the stroke for more than four hours. She studied herself from the inside out. It took eight years for her to have a full recovery. She wrote a book about her experience and has appeared on several talk shows to tell about her story. I found it very moving. I never realized that the left and right sides of our brain store completely separate information. The right side of the brain is where we make our dreams into reality. We decide what we want and we make it happen. Our thoughts turn into energy and we send that energy out into the universe. The universe gives back to us what are thoughts put out. Our cells communicate with one another and with chemicals in the brain. This is how we process information. The right side of the brain is where we are right now. In the present moment. Jill explains that we are energy beings all connected together. I can relate to this because when I dream of something or I put a lot of thought into something, it manifests. It is the energy carried in the thoughts that I put out and the universe gives me what I ask for. This makes perfect sense to me. The right side of the brain is where everything is peaceful and right and beautiful. It is the side where we have the power to choose. We can choose to be whole beings. We can choose to believe that we are all perfect just the way we are. We can choose to get along with one another and let go of our perceptions and judgments. We are at peace with ourselves and with everyone else.

The left side of the brain is very different. This is the side that lives in the past and lives in the future. This is the side where we catergorize and add details. This is the side where we attach memories, sounds and sights to. This is the side that we build on from when we are children. Every experience is a memory and a story and we file it away. The story reoccurs over and over. Everytime an applie pie is baked a certain memory from childhood may pop up. Everytime we hear a certain song or movie we may recollect a memory or an experience. This can be positive or negative depending on the experience. If there is a tragedy in our past and we don’t deal with it, it will haunt us because our left brain does not forget. If someone hurts us, our left brain tells us not to trust that person. We hold on to that. We can’t let it go. Our left brain won’t let it go. This is how tension and resentment starts. We are not able to let go and this is what Jill talks about. We fill our left brain with BAGGAGE. That baggage gets in the way of us being who and and what we want to be. This is is how we become single, solid and separate from the rest of the world. We are not unified. We are out for ourselves alone. The left side of the brain thinks in language. It affects our relationships. It prevents us from connecting and experiencing joy. It holds on to grudges and stories. It does not let us progress as human beings because our minds are always going with chatter and we listen to it and it controls us. It tells us what to do and how to react. It tells us how to respond and how to feel. It is full of interpretations. I feel it can be our enemy if we let it control us.

I was moved by the closing of this video. Jill shared that we can be loving, beautiful, compassionate people who choose to step to the right of our left hemispheres. She talks about taking back our power and how we are the lifeforce of the universe. We can choose how we want to be in the world. We can let go of the chatter in our minds and just be. We can be that GIANT person where we feel on top of the world and nothing affects us. I found it to be liberating. I found it to be refreshing. I found it to be inspirational and motivating. We don’t know how long we have on this earth. Why are we spending so much energy on things that don’t really mean that much in the scheme of things. We are cells! We are dust living in an orbit in space. Most of what we complain about does not really matter. Do we really need to put so much time into fighting a war and guns and killing? When you put things into perspective, the small stuff seems so trivial to me. This video has helped me realize that if I can let go of the thoughts in my left brain and add to the thoughts in my right brain, I will experience nirvana.

Commentary: On Creative Decisions

By Simone Maxwell
Creativity + Social Change, University of Connecticut
Media Reviewed:
Exploding Creativity Episode 4 - September 9, 2008: Decision Making and Creativity (click to listen to audio podcast)
You can and will use creativity in decision making, and you will make decisions in your creative pursuits, and depending how you look at it, creativity and decision making look a lot alike.
Who would believe that when you make an intuitive decision it is actually based on creativity? After the decision is made, we often exhaust our brain power, worrying about the consequences for the action we just completed. Not once did I believe that creativity and decision making were interlinked.

According to Bob Sharp on, decision making based on intuition is not irrational, it is creative. So all of us are creative, since at one point or another, a decision was made based only on that knee-jerk feeling we had. Decisions that based on the first thought that enter our brains are actually made because of our life experiences. In the moment the decision is made, we are actually being creative. "Decision" is defined by E. Frank Harrison as a “moment of choice; an ongoing process of evaluation of alternatives with a view to selecting one or some combination of them to obtain the desired end.” I love this definition. It makes me feel like a decision is an accomplishment. Did you know that not making a decision is a decision? I knew this, of course, but actually hearing someone else say it is another thing completely.

It was a complete eye opener to learn that a group decision can be more creative and somewhat easier than when a decision is made alone. I am not sure I agree with this idea. Being the master of my own destiny is easier to manage with me, my decision, and my consequences. Making a choice in a group can have its benefits, however. If all goes wrong, there is someone to share the blame with.

Decisions as a creative process have actually changed my outlook on the whole scenario. I will now take pride in the decision-making process. It is amazing to me that we do something that just comes naturally to us without thinking of the steps we actually take. So today I learned that creativity, decisions and intuition all go hand in hand. It is something that I am happy to say I learned and happy to acknowledge I do daily.

E. Frank Harrison also came up with a decision making process that I am going to place the flow chart below. You can tell me if you agree or not. I am still working my way through them.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Testing Hope - Grade 12 in the New South Africa

The South African government struggles to remedy inequity and substandard education. Minimize ... DOCUMENTARY: Testing Hope - Grade 12 in the New South Africa ... The South African government has been struggling to remedy years of inequity, particularly regarding substandard education. Testing Hope - Grade 12 in the New South Africa chronicles the lives of young people facing their future in the evolving democracy of South Africa. The film follows four students as they work towards their crucial Matric exams which one student calls the decider. [September 2010 - Colorado Public Television - Find out more about "Testing Hope"]

Watch the full episode. See more RMPBS Specials.

Engaged in What You Love - bell hooks on writing

It's the birthday of writer and activist bell hooks, born Gloria Jean
Watkins in Hopkinsville, Kentucky (1952). Her father was a janitor, and
her mother cleaned homes for white people. She went to a segregated
school until she was 10. ... She said: "Writing is my passion. It is a
way to experience the ecstatic. The root understanding of the word
ecstasy—'to stand outside'—comes to me in those moments when I am
immersed so deeply in the act of thinking and writing that everything
else, even flesh, falls away." [25 September 2010 - The Writer's Almanac]

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Creative thinking to save planet's threatened species

People using their creative energies in the E-Day Ark can help raise awareness of the plight of some of the world's most threatened species, says Matt Prescott, founding organizer of E-Day. In this week's Green Room, he encourages people to get involved to help give biodiversity a voice. ... Do you agree with Dr Matt Prescott? Can collective creative energy help raise awareness of the plight of the planets most threatened species? [17 September 2010 - BBC (UK) - By Matt Prescott - More]

Thursday, September 16, 2010

CREATIVITY NETWORKING: Creativity and Sustainability in Communities ... with Creativity Educator Steven Dahlberg and Community Farmer/Educator David Cherniske

If you are interested in food, "local" and sustainable agriculture, come and explore the symbiotic relationship between creativity and sustainability. Challenge yourself to think in new ways and imagine new possibilities about food, agriculture and the environment. Explore how creative thinking helps us understand systems, connections and alternatives better as we consider what we eat, how we eat, where food comes from and the impact of all of this on the environment. Led by creativity educator Steven Dahlberg, community farmer/educator David Cherniske and additional guests from local food and sustainable farm projects.

SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 19, 2010, 2:00-3:30 P.M.
The Silo at Hunt Hill Farm,
New Milford, Connecticut 06776
$10 to Creativity Networking; open to all.
RSVP to: 860.355.0300 or news [at] appliedimagination [dot] org

Please help spread the word about this workshop by printing and posting this flyer:

  • Steven Dahlberg is director of the International Centre for Creativity and Imagination, which is dedicated to applying creativity to improve the well-being of individuals, organizations and communities. He teaches "Creativity + Social Change" at the University of Connecticut, and leads professional development workshops for educators, nonprofits and businesses. He facilitates creative thinking and problem solving sessions, writes about creativity, and contributes to various media about creativity, imagination and innovation. He currently curates a monthly Creativity Networking series in Connecticut and organizes Imagination Conversations in Connecticut as part of a national initiative of the Lincoln Center Institute. He has worked with Yale University, Guggenheim Museum, Yahoo!, Americans for the Arts, Danbury Public Schools, World Knowledge Forum, City of Providence, 3M, Aldrich Museum, State of Connecticut, and Rhode Island College, among other organizations. He helped toy inventors launch a creativity consulting business and taught an undergraduate creativity course for incarcerated men. He is particularly interested in creative education, creative community building, local food and sustainable agriculture, and creative aging. Find more at
  • David Cherniske is a community farmer and educator. He is currently collaborating with middle school students on a garden project at the Pratt Nature Center in New Milford, Connecticut. He has a deep interest in integrating age-old farming practices with cutting-edge thinking about farming, agriculture, land and animals. Find more at
The Creativity Networking Series is presented each month by The Silo at Hunt Hill Farm and the International Centre for Creativity and Imagination, both based in New Milford, Conn. The series provides a forum for exploring the many facets of creativity and for discovering other people interested in creativity.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Sir Ken Robinson to be First Guest on 'Creativity in Play' Radio Show

We are pleased to announce that Sir Ken Robinson will be the inaugural guest on the new Creativity in Play online radio show, which will debut at noon Eastern Daylight Time (-4 UTC) on Thursday, September 23. Hosts are Steven Dahlberg (International Centre for Creativity and Imagination) and Mary Alice Long (Play=Peace). Sir Ken will also be part of the opening session with Daniel Pink at the Creativity World Forum on November 16, 2010, in Oklahoma City. Creativity in Play is produced by the International Centre for Creativity and Imagination, in partnership with the National Creativity Network. [14 September 2010 - International Centre for Creativity and Imagination - More]

Monday, September 13, 2010

Creativity, Culture and Innovation: finding new links

The very dynamic culture sector, the cultural and creative industries in particular, generates and stimulates considerable potential for creativity which makes it an important actor for meeting the challenges with which the European Union is confronted today. Within the context of the implementation of the “EU 2020” strategy, the goal is to highlight and promote the considerable potential of the cultural and creative industries. The colloquium (8 September 2010 to 9 September 2010) will focus on the innovative aspect of the sector. Cultural and creative industries are gradually being recognised as essential contributors to innovation. The goal is to now create an environment in which these industries can develop their potential to its fullest. It will be a matter of, on one hand, demonstrating that innovation plays a significant part in the development of the cultural sector and that, inversely, culture is a major asset for innovation. In addition, and based on this observation, the goal will be to provide potential ways to develop the cultural and creative industries. Special attention will be paid to the self-employed, micro-enterprises and to small and medium enterprises which guarantee cultural diversity and play a determinant role in the development of the cultural and creative sectors. [September 2010 - The Belgian Presidency of the Council of the European Union - More]

Commentary: On Child-Driven Education

By Teley Quarshie
Creativity + Social Change, University of Connecticut
Media Reviewed:
TED - July 2010: Sugata Mitra: The Child-Driven Education
Sugata Mitra tackles one of the greatest problems of education -- the best teachers and schools don't exist where they're needed most. In a series of real-life experiments from New Delhi to South Africa to Italy, he gave kids self-supervised access to the web and saw results that could revolutionize how we think about teaching.

I logged onto and clicked inspiring and ingenious and on one of the pages, the title "The child-driven education" stuck out to me. Children are the most creative and alive. Full of thoughts, ideas, eagerness. Education is a huge issue in this world, yet such a tool to change one's social-economic status. He has found the “child-driven” solution to education though children, along with the help of technology that is everywhere. A little strange that there is high-speed Internet in these Indian and African villages walls. Yet we all walk around with mini-computers in our pocket or on our ear. Society is very technologically driven. The global world connects via the Web. Teaching is a profession respected by many but very underpaid. Leaving teachers to pick and choose and neglect where the money is close to nothing. Leaving the children to teach themselves.

He is using the creativity that the child has to figure out problems. He questions machines they’ve never used and in languages they are unfamiliar with. It's also a very creative way to educate. Yes, it would be best if these children where in the classroom learning with a teacher and a desk ... but in this case, this is all they have and they should be lucky to be apart of such a study.

By working together to figure out the answers, they are processing the information more to find a solution instead of on their own. Makes you wonder if people should be taught in groups, not one on one. You vs. the paper. Open education seems like a better way for people to learn. Yes, there may be that person who really doesn’t know the answer or how to solve it, but by being apart and paying attention they will figure out why whatever it is is such. (That was a side thought I just discovered thinking about the children working together.) I feel working together is a better guide for how to work in a professional social community. We spend our whole lives in school progressing on our own. Maybe we wouldn’t loose so many students if it was a group effort. If we all succeed, the better off we can make things on a larger, societal level. Thinking not for just the "Me" but the "We."

Children love to learn, but not all the same way. If they learn how to learn outside of the box, they will be able to think and know outside the box. Creativity and innovative ideas will follow. I consider open environments with some structure the best support for such learning styles. The idea of the "grandmother" is brilliant. All grandparents do is love and encourage. Having someone like that there, but actually not there, while still being surrounded by your peers seems to be a great idea to the world's grim education issue. A lot of money is needed, but not much help. People are needed to help. The outcome can only benefit us as a society. Sugata Mitra's creativity is creating tomorrow's creative minds.