From 98% to 2% and back again!

Age five – 98%. Age ten – 30%. Age fifteen -12%. Age twenty – 2%
Yes, the same 1,600 people tested went from 98% to 2%. 
What happened in those fifteen years, or maybe more to the point, what DIDN’T happen?
Let’s take a look. NASA developed a highly specialised test that would give them the means to effectively measure the creative potential of their rocket scientists and engineers. They needed trouble shooters. Dr George Land and Beth Jarman designed a test that looked at the ability to come up with new, different and innovative ideas to problems.

It turned out to be very successful for NASA’s purposes, but the scientists were left with a few questions.
1) Where does creativity come from? 
2) Are some people born with it? 
3) Does it come from our experience?
4) If so can it be learned?

You may be, quite understandably, questioning the consistency of these results, or think they may be isolated incidences. They’ve been replicated more than a million times according to author Gavin Nascimento. In his work he claims quite clearly that the school system, our education, robs us of our creative genius.

“The reasoning for this is not too difficult to apprehend”, he says. “School is an institution that has historically been put in place to ultimately serve the wants of the ruling class, not the common people”.

Mister Nascimento doesn’t pull any punches, continuing with, “In order for the so-called elite to maintain their lavish life styles of overt luxury, where they contribute the least but enjoy the most, they understand that children must be dumbed down and brainwashed to accept, and even serve, their rapacious system of artificial scarcity, unending exploitation, and incessant war.”

You may think he’s being a bit over the top, but what now? Can we recover our creativity? And if so, can we do it without a revolution or too much therapy?

There’s good news here. In his TEDx Tucson Talk, George Land says we have the ability to get back to 98 percent very quickly if we want to.

There are two kinds of thinking that take place in the brain. Both use different parts of the brain and it’s a totally different kind of paradigm in the sense of how it forms something in our minds.

The first is called DIVERGENT, that’s imagination, used for generating new possibilities.

The second is called CONVERGENT, that’s when you’re making a judgement, you’re making a decision, you’re testing something, you’re criticising or you’re evaluating.

Divergent thinking works like an accelerator and convergent thinking puts the brakes on.

“We found that what happens to these children, as we educate them, we teach them to do both kinds of thinking at the same time”, explains Land. “When someone asks you to come up with new ideas, as you come up with them what you mostly learn at school is to immediately look and see: “We tried that before”, “That’s a dumb idea”, “It won’t work” and so forth. This is the point and this is what we must stop doing.”

“When we actually looking inside the brain we find that neurons are fighting each other and actually diminishing the power of the brain because we’re constantly judging, criticising and censoring. If we operate out of fear we use a smaller part of the brain, but when we use creative thinking the brain just lights up. The whole thing is bigger.”

So what’s the solution? I’m not a fan of ‘inner child’ work, I’d much prefer people to access their ‘inner adult’, especially people in positions of power.

But, with that qualification, it seems that we DO need to find that five-year old again. More good news.

“That level of imagination is something we exercise every night when we’re dreaming,” says Land. “It’s right there waiting for us to bring it into our conscious lives again”.

Indeed, I find this in groups I work with at Instant Teamwork. I’ll introduce thirty managers to the rudiments of music and storytelling then break them into teams of five saying, “You’ve got twenty minutes. In your six teams I want you to make a musical story to perform to us all, called THE JOURNEY. Find a space, we’ve got suitcases full of hats and costumes, you know how to use the instruments. You’ve got nineteen and a half minutes now, let’s go!”

THE most amazingly humorous, intelligent and sometimes gob-smacking stories come out of them. The most common thing people say afterwards is, “Why don’t we do this EVERY Monday morning?”

To which I always say, “What’s stopping you?”


You can find out more about Tom Morley and CREATIVITY

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