Sparking the Creative Mind

Sciences have indicated that humor or a state of joy helps the creative problem-solving mind work more effectively.

“…In a recent study, researchers at Northwestern University found that people were more likely to solve word puzzles with sudden insight when they were amused, having just seen a short comedy routine…”

“…In their humor study, Dr. Beeman and Dr. Subramaniam had college students solve word-association puzzles after watching a short video of a stand-up routine by Robin Williams. The students solved more of the puzzles over all, and significantly more by sudden insight, compared with when they’d seen a scary or boring video beforehand…”

Why is this information significant for parents and educators?

Our youth face a very different world then we did when we were their age. According to Daniel Pink, author of A Whole New Mind, the most important skills a child needs at this time in history is a highly developed problem-solving mind, and a fearless ability to communicate their ideas, observations and insights.

Accomplishing this may seem like a simple task, but in a linear and “right answer” dominated culture it can be a hard situation to create and implement. This is one of the reasons why I created the I Create What I Believe! program.

After working with many children, both in and outside the classroom I discovered that many of the learning problems stemmed from: students not understanding how their own mind worked, a loss of joy in the learning process and a resulting inability to engage deeply with subject matter. We have become so “data directed” and “answer oriented” that students rarely have an opportunity to develop a deep understanding of the “art of learning” and yet we live in a time where the solutions of yesterday no longer serve tomorrow.

This approach to learning can’t be taught within a linear model, instead we need to roll back the clock and encourage children to learn naturally in the same manner they did when they are very, very young. The key is exploring, and discovering with a lot of trial and error. Ultimately it is our willingness to make mistakes, and then learn from those mistakes that helps us excel.

Many years ago I saw Norman Lear, very famous sitcom writer, being interviewed by Johnny Carson. Mr. Carson asked Mr. Lear what was the key to his outrageous success. The writer responded without hesitation, “…I get so excited whenever I make a mistake…”.   The audience broke into laughter and I thought Johnny Carson was going to fall off his chair he was so startled, but Norman, not missing a beat, continued “…because I know I am going to learn something new and this is very exciting to me.”

To develop the conscious problem-solving mind we need to provide novel activities that engage, delight, work and expand this part of the mind. Many teachers and parents approach learning in this manner instinctively, but for those who are a little unsure of the process the activity needs to ignite and engage the student and have no right or wrong solution. This approach enables the young mind to expand any direction in an unencumbered and fearless manner. Remember the young mind craves novelty, and wants to be acknowledged as having something valuable to contribute.

If we can spark insight, and infuse the young minds of today with the joy of learning they will be better equipped for the unknown and changeable future. This fearless agility and willingness to discover new solutions to age-old problems will also spur self-confidence and help them navigate all of the challenges they will face throughout their life.

For more information about the I Create What I Believe! program view our website:

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