Friday, 24 February 2012

What We Can Learn from Babies: Experimentation, Failure & Creative Genius

What We Can Learn from Babies:
Experimentation, Failure & Creative Genius

Article: What We Can Learn from Babies: Experimentation, Failure & Creative Genius
By: Jocelyn K. Glei

The theta state is characterized by the ability to shut out the world and deeply concentrate and connect with a task at hand.

This is the way babies learn. A baby, when learning any skill to develop, such as talking or walking, going to the washroom, or eating, is not thinking about the mechanics of the task (food MUST reach my mouth, it is sloppy otherwise) or the consequences of failure (if I miss the toilet then my mother will have to clean the mess and she doesn’t like that, might not like me after). 

Computer scientists talk about the difference between exploring and exploiting — a system will learn more if it explores many possibilities, but it will be more effective if it simply acts on the most likely one. Babies explore; adults exploit.  

Alison Gopnik
The Philosophical Baby

But this state can be reached after maturity, when people are consumed by daily lives and consequences. Thomas Edison & Jim Robbins sought this state ( the theta state) because it allows one to be more creative, and free of inhibitions and developed specific techniques. But running, meditating and napping are more common and modern methods to reach this creative state.

…playfulness, wonder, and a lack of inhibition – that have fostered the greatest creative breakthroughs.

These traits are not encouraged in school systems playfulness, wonder, and a lack of inhibition people are encouraged to reach the expected outcome only to be successful. Any deviation of that, especially one that is not successful, is considered failure.

At the end of the article the question is asked about what techniques people use to reach their own theta state. I’ve participated in writing courses and have been told by various sources to always, always, always,  carry a little notebook around. This is to jot down thoughts that come out ofd nowhere but that you consider rather brilliant… and that usually will not – no matter how hard you try – be remembered later on. I find even if I do this the brilliance of the thought doesn’t remain – just a spark. And this is because that one thought usually had a hundred tiny supporting thoughts that if not solidified and written in that moment, won’t come back the same.

Even when I do solidify a thought it can be expanded on, and if I have no idea at all, I start by bouncing the idea from other people. Though I lean towards creative people, never underestimate the power of an idea: people naturally want to fill in a blank and those not attached to your idea will expand it in directions you never thought to go.

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