SPARKS OF GENIUS --- THE 13 THINKING TOOLS OF THE WORLD'S
MOST CREATIVE PEOPLE by Robert and Michele Root-Bernstein. Houghton Mifflin, 1999
"Invention presupposes imagination but should not be confused with it, because the act of invention implies the necessity of a lucky find and of achieving full realization of it. Creative imagination is the faculty that helps us pass from the level of conception to the level of realization!" Quote by Igor Stravinsky in The Poetics of Music
We thank all of the many people who have encouraged, influenced, and supported our exploration of the imagination and its tools for thinking, especially our two teenagers who were good-natured to the end of the book writing.
This book is about the creative thinking in all fields that occurs preverbally, before logic or linguistics comes into play, manifesting itself through emotions, intuitions, images, and bodily feelings. Regardless of the infinitely diverse details of the products of the creative "translation," such as paintings, poems, theories, formulas, and so on, the "process" by which it is achieved is universal!
1) Rethinking thinking (p1-13)
Because this approach to creative thinking is integrative and transdisciplinary, the book unravels certain strands of disciplinary knowledge in order to posit a new fabric of unified understanding. A new synthesis is necessary, not only in order to understand thinking itself, but for pedagogical and social reasons as well.
By restructuring our "cognitive categories" to emphasize the unity of creative thinking, this book formulates a new conception of knowledge and, correspondingly, a new form of education. The wonder of the resulting
"intellectual fabric" is that like real fabric, it can be transformed into an almost infinite number of things! The new material is the stuff from which future artists and scientists, humanists and technologists will fashion their world!
Everyone thinks! But not everyone thinks equally well!
2) Schooling the imagination (p14-29)
You can learn the "tools of the trade" and thereby improve your "intellection" or creative thinking! This process, however, requires you to "rethink" what your creative thinking is all about. And rethinking shifts your educational focus from WHAT to think to HOW to think in the most productive ways possible.
It is a myth that scientists "think more logically than others." To think creatively is first to feel! The desire to understand must be whipped together with sensual and emotional feelings and blended with intellect to yield imaginative thought. (p6-7)
The connections between thinking, emotions, and feelings are the subject of the book by Anotonio Damasio, Descartes' Error. He described how neurological patients whose emotional affect is grossly altered due to strokes, accidents, or tumors lose the ability to make rational plans. Because they are unable to become emotionally involved in their decisions, they fail to make good ones. (p6)
Thus our feelings --- our intuitions --- are not impediments to rational thinking, but actually they form its origin and bases! Body and mind, emotion and intellect are inseparable. Not only do scientists "FEEL" their way toward LOGICAL ideas, but creative thinking and expression in every discipline are born of intuition AND emotion working together! (p6)
Nothing could be more important than recognizing and describing the intuitive "dialects" of creative thinking. As important as words and numbers are to the communication of insight, that insigght is born of emotions and images of many sorts conjured within the imagination. (p13)
The idea of "feeling as thinking" must, therefore, become part of the public educational curriculum! Students must learn how to pay attention to what they feel in their bones, to develop and use it. The importance of "gut feeling" or inclination of common sense can be defined and should be taught.
Whether you are attempting to understand yourself, other people, or some aspect of nature, it is imperative that you learn to use the feelings, emotions and intuitions that are the bases of your creative imagination! (p13)
3) Observing (p30-49)
4) Imaging (p50-69)
5) Abstracting (p70-91)
6) Recognizing patterns (p92-114)
7) Forming patterns (p115-135)
8) Analogizing (p136-159)
 How is it possible for simple analogies to help us learn complex concepts?
9) Body thinking (p160-181)
 The critical part of interesting analogies is that they reveal not mere resemblances but inapparent relationships between abstract functions, one of which is understood, the other not! In some cases, useful analogies are inexact and in many ways inaccurate and in some cases analogies are literally wrong. (p143)
 Analogizing lies at the center of human thinking, at what it means to think creatively! (p144)
10) Empathizing (p182-201)
11) Dimensional thinking (p202-225)
12) Modeling (p226-245)
13) Playing (p246-268)
 What you do for FUB can reward you many times over in unexpected ways when you apply it to some real-world problem or use it as an analogy for some mysterious phenomenon. The only difficulty with playing --- and it is a big one --- is being able to remain enough of a "child' to do it! (p265)
14) Transforming (p269 -295)
 Play returns us to the presymbolic origins of "gut" feelings, emotions, intuition, and fun from which creative insights stem, thereby making us inventors.
When "rule-bound" work does not yield the insights or results you want to achieve, when conventional thought, behavior, and disciplinary knowledge become barriers to your goals, play provides a "fun and risk-free" means of seeing from a fresh perspective, learning without constraint, exploring without fear!
Play transforms knowledge and b uilds understanding as you create your own worlds, personas, games, rules, toys, and puzzles. Through them new sciences and arts are created! (p267-268)
15) Synthesizing (p296-315)
To comprehend the scientific and technological advances of the past century, oyou must be able to perceive the connections between mathematical calculations, logical constructions, patterns, visual images, and the technical processes of manipulating artistic media to produce electronic inventions --- or to make similarly unexpected concatenations of thinking tools!
16) Synthesizing education (p316-327)
Only those people who become excited by such inspirations will have the desire to create the next synthesis!
We desperately need "synthetic" people or minds! No major problem facing theworld today can be boxed neatly within a single discipline or appraoched effectively by analysis, emotion, or tradition alone. Innovation is always transdiscipolinary and multimodal. Your future will therefore depend upon your ability to create synthetic understanding by integrating al ways of knowing! Your body and soul must be joined in a "synosic" way.
A "synthetic education" requires us to change HOW we teach with EIGHT BASIC GOALS in mind:
 Emphasize the teaching of universal processes of invention in addition to the acquisition of disciplinary products of knowledge. (p317)
 Teach the intuitive and imaginative skills necessary to inventive processes (p316-317)
 Implement a multidisciplinary education that places the arts on an equal footing with the sciences (p317)
 Integrate the curriculum by using a common descriptive language for innovation (p317-318)
 Emphasize the transdisiplinary lessons of disciplinary learning (p318)
 Use the experiences of people who have successfully bridged disciplines as exemplars of creative activity within our curricula (p318)
 Ideas in every discipline should be presented in many forms in order to reach the widest range of minds! (318-319)
 Forge a pioneering education, whose purpose it is to produce the imaginative generalists who can take us into the uncharted future! (p319)
The word "polymath," which is derived from the Greek words meaning "to know" much or "very knowing," means in common parlance today a person with "encyclopedic knowledge." Polymaths master their activities to a significant degree and perceive the fundamental differences between them.
MINDS-ON RESOURCES (p365-373)
ILLUSTRATION CREDITS (p374-377)
Go to: Brainpower Issue at Work
Go to: Creativity Issue at Work
Go to: Feelings Issue at Work
Go to: Leadership Control Essay
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