Tim Brown On Nurturing Your Creative Capacity Through Relaxed Attention …*

IDEO‘s Tim Brown has just published a great post over on LinkedIn about the importance of relaxed attention to creative problem-solving :

During relaxed attention, a problem or challenge is taking up space in your brain, but it isn’t on the front burner. Relaxed attention lies somewhere between meditation, where you completely clear your mind, and the laser-like focus you apply when tackling a tough math problem. Our brains can make cognitive leaps when we’re not completely obsessed with a challenge, which is why good ideas sometimes come to us when we’re in the shower or talking a walk or on a long drive.

Unfortunately, our education system provides ever shrinking opportunities for students to engage in the types of activities that lead to relaxed attention:

in both the UK and US education systems, since the late 1980s, the trend has been away from unstructured play and time studying the arts—both prime times for switching gears into relaxed cognition—and toward more structured, standardized National Curriculums. According to the report, this focus on finding the single right answer for the test instead of exploring many alternate solutions has resulted in “a significant decline in creative thinking scores in US schools. Using the Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking (TTCT), and a sample of 272,599 pupils (kindergarten to fourth grade), evidence suggests that the decline is steady and persistent [affecting] teachers’ and pupils’ ability to think creatively, imaginatively and flexibly.”

Luckily, Brown offers three suggestions on how to enhance your own and your students’ creative capacity through engaging relaxed attention.

Source: Why Daydreamers Will Save the World, published February 24, 2014.

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