Sir Ken Robinson wisely said, “You are more powerful than you know and they fear the day you discover it!” Indeed, the modern educational system can seem to stifle creativity, and the best way to remedy this issue may be divergent thinking. In fact, NASA has reached out to Dr. George Land and Beth Jarman to create a specialized test to measure the creativity of their rocket scientists and engineers, and divergent thinking is precisely what they recommend. This form of thinking allows human beings to contemplate a problem and efficiently devise multiple solutions to that problem; however, there is some question as to whether divergent thinking is a genetic trait or the result of life experience itself.
1,600 children between ages four to five have been tracked, and—quite remarkably—it has been discovered that 98% of them have the potential to be geniuses—with the proper mindsets. Even more remarkably, the test was administered again five years later—but by then only 30% of the individuals were shown to have genius potential. Perhaps most shocking of all, the same test was given in another five years, and by then only 12% had the potential to become geniuses. Since the results were so astounding, adults at least twenty-five years old were tested; merely 2% of these adults demonstrated genius potential. The results have been duplicated millions of times.
When you think about it, educational systems have been stifling creativity ever since ancient Spartan times. John Taylor Gatto’s book The Underground History of American Education helps explain this phenomenon, and he points out that children threaten this cycle of oppression most because they possess such wild imaginations. However, when human beings of any age go to sleep, their imaginations become stimulated; so creative or genius potential can never be entirely eliminated. In order to recover some of our precious creativity, George Land recommends judging less and comprehending more.
Activities such as yoga, meditation, and physical exercise can all help human beings understand more clearly and thoroughly, partly because they promote neurogenesis or the generation of new brain cells. Diet is also essential to strong mental health; only approximately 10% of mood-regulating serotonin is generated in the brain, whereas about 90% of it is created in the stomach. What’s more, remember to be humble—and to be curious. Narrow-minded people should be associated with as little as possible, and all of society’s stereotypes should be dismissed at once; don’t stifle your own imagination by believing what something or someone is before you’ve discovered the truth for yourself.
Further info and insight.
George Land, Beth Jarman. (1992): Breakpoint and Beyond: Mastering the Future—Today.
John Taylor Gatto. (2000): The Underground History of American Education.
Nir, Y., & Tononi, G. (2010): Dreaming and the brain: from phenomenology to neurophysiology. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 14(2), 88.
*This content was inspired by an amazing article that can be found here.