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Sparks
of
Genius
The 13
Thinking
Tools
Most
Of the Creative
World’s People
Based on the book by
Robert & Michele
Root-Bernstein
Bonnie Cramond
UGA
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Assumptions & Understandings
1
Creative thinking in all fields occurs preverbally, before logic
or linguistics comes into play, manifesting itself through
emotions, intuitions, images, and bodily feelings.
2
Creative thinking is integrative and transdisciplinary.
“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is
the source of all true art and all science. He to whom this emotion
is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in
awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed.” Einstein
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1. Observing
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1. Observing

Describe the people in the picture.

Is someone holding something?
What?

Is someone wearing a hat? Who?
Describe the hat.

What is the relationship among these
people?

What season is it?

Do you know who the people in the
picture are?

What did you observe in your
environment outside of the picture?
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2. Imaging

Imagine a day at the beach

Close your eyes and try to
conjure vivid images as I read
this passage
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3. Abstracting
MEMOIR IN SIX WORDS

Sum up your life (to date) in six words

Crawl, step, run, step, crawl, lay.

Broke. Payday. Broke. Payday. Broke. Payday ...

Didn't do what I should have.

California, Pennsylvania, Jersey, Manhattan, Vancouver, Seattle.

Half over but feels like new.

Child, adult, wife, mom, widow, me.

Don't even try to plan it.
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4. Recognizing Patterns
"Recognizing patterns is
one of humanity's greatest
abilities. It is the basis of
conscious awareness that
brings cohesion to a
chaotic world by allowing
us to see contrast as well
as similarity." -Maggie
Macnab in "Decoding
Design"
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5. Forming Patterns
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6. Analogizing

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6. Analogizing

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7. Body Thinking

Where is your mind?

If you play a sport or a musical instrument, what happens if you think
about what your body is doing?

The mind is not the brain, nor is it confined to the brain.
When stuck on a problem, Darwin walked, Einstein played the violin.
Many great thinkers have used body movement to stimulate thought.
Einstein, like many great thinkers, described pre-symbolic thinking.
That is, the reception of thought that is neither picture, nor word, nor
numeral. It is perceived first in the body, then becomes symbolic.
“It is by no means necessary that a concept be tied to a sensorily
recognizable and reproducible sign (word), but when this is the case,
then thinking becomes capable of being communicated. I have no
doubt that our thinking goes on for the most part without use of signs
(words) and beyond that to a considerable degree unconsciously.”
Einstein
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8. Empathizing


IsamuIs

Isamu Nogushi “Core” invited
visitors to, “Put your hand
inside and you will know what
the inside of a stone feels
like.”
riding a light beam to
conceptualize relativity
Einstein’s experience of riding
a beam of light enabled him to conceptualize relativity.
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Synectics
One step in the creative problem
solving process of synectics is
creating a personal analogy. For
example, to solve the problem of
how to ship apples without bruising
them, an individual might think
about how s/he would want to be
shipped if s/he were an apple.
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9. Dimensional Thinking

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I saw the angel in the marble
and carved until I set him free.
Michelangelo
An exotic n-sphere is a sphere from the
point of view of topology. But it is not
equivalent to a standard n-sphere from
the point of view of differential calculus.
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10. Modeling

he Borromean rings consist
of three topological circles
which are linked and form a
Brunnian link, i.e.,
removing any ring results in
two unlinked rings.
The Borromean rings consist of
three topological circles which
are linked and form a Brunnian
link, i.e., removing any ring
results in two unlinked rings
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11. Playing

Keri Mullis, nobel prize winner
for discovering the
Polymerase Chain Reaction, a
technique which allows a small
strand of DNA to be copied
almost an infinite number of
times, said that he discovered
it while playing. He was
driving along the California
coastline, thinking of
molecules like Tinkertoys, and
they fell into place
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12. Transforming


Take a strip of paper, give it
one twist and glue the ends
together.
Draw a line along the middle
of the strip the entire length. Is
the shape 2-dimensional or 3dimensional?

Cut the strip along the line in
the middle. What do you get?

Cut the new strip down the
middle, what do you get?

Investigate what happens
when the strip has an odd or
even number of half twists
before joining and is then cut.

Möbius strip
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M.C. Escher’s Artistic View of the
Möbius Strip
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13. Synthesizing

Creative people combine
thoughts, fields, senses, modes,
etc. in the process and the result
is experienced as a whole.

Desmond Morris—biologist,
popular author, painter

1. “Becomes” the animal he is
studying.

2. Studies the characteristics of
the animal as a scientist and as
an artist.

3. Uses and extends biological
processes in creating imaginary
creatures, which he calls
biomorphs, in his art.
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The Key to Using the 13 Sparks is
1.
Be aware of your thinking (metacognition)
2.
Be strategic about your thinking
3.
Use all thinking skills possible
4.
Recognize your strengths and develop
your weaknesses
5.
Practice
6.
Combine
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A True Story
Washington, DC Metro Station on a cold January morning in 2007. The
man with a violin played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During
that time approx. 2 thousand people went through the station, most of
them on their way to work.
•
After 3 minutes a middle aged man noticed there was a musician
playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds and then
hurried to meet his schedule.
•
4 minutes later: the violinist received his first dollar: a woman threw
the money in the hat and, without stopping, continued to walk..
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6 minutes: A young man leaned against the wall to listen to him, then
looked at his watch and started to walk again.
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10 minutes: A 3-year old boy stopped but his mother tugged him along
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

No one knew this, but the violinist was Joshua Bell,
one of the greatest musicians in the world. He played
one of the most intricate pieces ever written, with a
violin worth $3.5 million dollars. Two days before
Joshua Bell sold out a theater in Boston where the
seats averaged $100. This is a true story. Joshua Bell
playing incognito in the metro station was organized
by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment
about perception, taste and people's priorities. The
questions raised: in a common place environment at
an inappropriate hour, do we perceive beauty? Do we
stop to appreciate it? Do we recognize talent in an
unexpected context?
One possible conclusion
reached from this experiment could be this: If we do
not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best
musicians in the world, playing some of the finest
music ever written, with one of the most beautiful
instruments ever made.... How many other things are
we missing?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=myq8upzJDJc
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A "synthetic education" requires us to change
HOW we teach with 8 BASIC GOALS in mind:
1.
Emphasize the teaching of universal processes of invention in
addition to the acquisition of disciplinary products of knowledge.
2.
Teach the intuitive and imaginative skills necessary to inventive
processes
3.
Implement a multidisciplinary education that places the arts on an
equal footing with the sciences
4.
Integrate the curriculum by using a common descriptive language
for innovation
5.
Emphasize the transdisiplinary lessons of disciplinary learning
6.
Use the experiences of people who have successfully bridged
disciplines as exemplars of creative activity within our curricula
7.
Ideas in every discipline should be presented in many forms in order
to reach the widest range of minds!
8.
Forge a pioneering education, whose purpose it is to produce the
imaginative generalists who can take us into the uncharted future!
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Based on the book by Robert & Michele Root