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In the early 1980s I began work on a project in creativity to postulate variations on a theme, only to realize that I first had to answer the critical question: Just what is creativity? The revealing research that followed explored the dynamic connection between awareness and the conscious mind. I named it “creativism”. Like activism, creativism is active imagination in practice.
In my study of the human brain and its amazing ability to quickly adapt to changes in the environment, I also learned that it thrives on mentally stimulating activities. As part of the nervous system, axons’ synaptic junctions fire excitedly each time new learning takes place, permitting a neuron to pass a chemical signal to another cell. Axons are smart and expand their influence as the brain learns, something it loves to do. It hungers to expand its capacity and presses us to continue to learn all of our life.
Children are like sponges, absorbing every nuance of knowledge to expand their awareness of the environment. Eager to discover how things work, they will spend time watching a caterpillar build its cocoon, only to discover it later transforms into a butterfly. This same kind of transformation is available to everyone, and especially to young minds whose future widens when they lean toward challenging studies. Self-discovery may be the most fascinating of all human experiences, and it continues throughout our lifetime. But despite the “no child left behind” dictum for the U.S. educational system in 2001, the gap between the mind and its potential continues to widen. We must ask, why? More likely than not, it’s because education has not kept up with progressive ideas about how children learn, making it more difficult for teachers to do their jobs and for employers to find workers who can think for themselves. We’ll explore this more in chapter 13. Textbook learning has limits. Practical applications surge ahead. The way-it-used-to-be complex gets too political for comfort.
India is pointed in the right direction because it approaches education as a lifelong process from birth to death. They educate through innovation, drawing on how children learn at an early age. The Asian News International agency reported in 2006 that at least one school is teaching students to write with both hands at the same time on different subjects simultaneously. The Veena Vadini School at Singrauli in Madhya Pradesh began in 1999, and all 72 pupils, according to principal Virangat Sharma, “can use both their hands to write in two different languages on two different subjects at the same time.” One student, Kamla, said: “I know six languages—Hindi, Urdu, English, Roman, Sanskrit and Arabic. I can write in two languages at one time.”1 Beginning this at an early age prepares students for a multifaceted future where language and expression are not limited by stereotyped texts and testing that is meaningless in the long run, except as a standard to measure teachers’ ability to effectively teach.
This presents a challenge for the U.S. education system as competition with India sharpens its focus. Jobs are already being farmed out to other countries. When the student dress code was removed some years ago, grades, ambition and self-respect went south, and so did the pants as the waistline dropped to expose more flesh, embarrassingly so. Yet the U.S. is making strides in the right direction, with help from foundations to raise the bar.
Microsoft founder Bill Gates and his wife, Melinda, use their Gates Foundation as a springboard in this regard. What they are working to accomplish with benchmarks and reporting is helping education progress on a steady course. Underprivileged students gain aid and instruction to accelerate learning in a meaningful way. The foundation’s stated goal for all students—“regardless of race or family income—is to graduate from high school prepared to succeed in college, career, and life. All students, all schools, everywhere.”
Legendary golfer Tiger Woods, using his money and passion to make a positive difference, founded Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, California, to exemplify the value of hands-on education, coupling workshop team experience with textbook learning. The prospects for goals, career and a rich life now seem more viable. Young minds inspired and young brains stimulated increase neuronal growth, making them smarter and better prepared to meet the demands of the business world.
Here is how it works. During the day, Tiger’s “Start Something” character-development and goal-setting program assists students in exploring career fields other than the basics, such as drama, journalism and robotics. After-school programs rotate every two and a half weeks, introducing such subjects as rocket science and flight, audio broadcasting and video production, even tutoring certain school subjects for struggling students. This is a great opportunity for those who might never touch these areas under our present educational system, a chance to inspire them to greatness and their full potential.
However, even a college dorm can birth student ingenuity. Look at Google’s Sergey Brin and Larry Page, for instance, as well as Apple’s Steve Jobs and Microsoft’s Bill Gates. A garage, shed, barn or basement provides a place where thinkers tinker, generally making do with what they have in parts or can obtain cheaply. Innovation does not depend upon having a lot of money, just a curious, eager mind and the will to manifest. Sometimes a school science project is enough to spark the fire and ignite the flame, or an inspirational teacher may meld lessons with practical applications. It is this curiosity about how the universe works that really spurs growth and invention to create new products for market. Business thrives on product development and the next new idea. Thinking outside the box invites imagination to trigger solutions to problems pestering more than one individual. Creative ideas spin gears into action, and the excitement can last throughout a lifetime. You may be one of those whose vision is already bringing new products to market.
There are lots of areas in which to work, especially in the electronics field. Demand for solutions to planetary pollution and ecological functionality is gaining momentum as awareness of the necessity spreads. Energy is high priority as oil reserves dwindle and we increasingly resent our dependence on a limited commodity. Driving innovation is the public’s demand for more fuel-efficient automobiles, pushing industries to develop alternate fuel/energy sources and to keep the price point reasonable. Perhaps for the first time in history, the consumer is pushing the recalcitrant mentality of business to innovate. They expect business to get serious about conserving energy, be more respectful of nature and more responsible stewards of Planet Earth.
This will take a shift in perspective and a unique selling position to satisfy the brain’s love for novelty. Clever is sometimes the only route to follow when outlooks are dead-end boring and goals unattainable. Inspired brains think and solve pressing problems. Our understanding of life’s complexities tends to increase as we step off the treadmill of conventional thinking into new frontiers that propel us directly to the high-voltage potentials associated with quantum reality.
Creativity invites invention, innovative solutions to pressing problems. More than likely, those involved in the decision-making process are not the ones executing the plan. To resolve difficult situations, to find better ways to do things, requires as much input as possible. Some executives, thankfully not all, assume they have all the answers, but that is changing. It is rather like the human brain making all the decisions without checking to see how the body feels about it. Creativity needs to be a collaborative effort.
Excerpt from Screwing Mother Nature for Profit
Published by Watkins Publishing www.watkinspublishing.co.uk
Elaine Smitha, visionary teacher, artist and businesswoman, is the author of the brilliant personal growth book, If You Make the Rules, How Come You’re Not Boss? In 1992, she launched a TV programme, Evolving Ideas, to explore new perspectives in science, health and conscious living, reaching a million households. In 2005, she expanded to Internet radio, where her guests have included Deepak Chopra, Larry Dossey and Jack Canfield. A past president of Toastmasters, she is a frequent speaker at universities and organisations around the US.
Screwing Mother Nature for Profit
After the Deepwater Horizon exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, it was found that the rig's alarm system had been partly disabled so that workers could sleep. Hence there was no warning before the broken well started pouring oil into the sea. Now Elaine Smitha urges us to sound the alarm! Screwing Mother Nature for Profit is a wake-up call to acknowledge, and heal, the harm that corporate greed is wreaking on our planet. Overpopulation, hunger, pollution, climate change: the damage is all around us. How can we live in harmony with each other and with nature? For answers, Elaine Smitha turns to Mother Nature herself, explaining how her principles of cooperative competition can set corporations and governments on a path of conscious, sustainable growth. Drawing on concepts from Henry Ford's innovative production line to the findings of the 'new biology', she reveals a startling correlation between businesses and living systems - then uses this as the basis for a model of leadership oriented towards benefits much bigger than cash flow. Some of the topics covered include:
In the words of one seasoned journalist, her book "goes worlds beyond ...tired, ineffective and faddish theories" to hold out fresh hope - not only for the corporate world, but for our whole world.
Get your copy of Screwing Mother Nature for Profit: CLICK HERE