Visualization and the Human Brain
Recent research has shown that we learn a great deal from making errors, particularly when we can later analyze those mistakes and correct our errors. Thinking differently or creatively seldom goes unpunished in school today’s assessments for “accountability.” Regrettably, our current assessment methods have given students a perception that only plan A or “answer A” can ever exist as the single definitive “right answer.” Independent thinking today is comparable to escaping the shackles of slavery in the early 1800s. In both cases, one might pay dearly for seeking his independence.
We often arrive at an optimal answer after thoroughly considering numerous possible ideas and methods for problem resolution. Our high-stakes tests reward speed over intrinsically-motivated perseverance and the time-consuming, slow-burning creative processes that have historically driven imaginative minds to conceive of the incandescent light bulb, a vaccine for polio, the Hubble telescope, brain-imaging, the i-Pad, mind-reading computers, and brain-controlled prosthetics, each expanding human knowledge and revolutionizing life as we know it or once knew it. (Imagine the marketing challenge facing the creative salesmen charged with consummating the first sale of these new inventions!) Thinking constitutes one of the best ways to learn. There is no evidence-based research available today indicating that worksheets or standardized tests stimulate creativity although
The future portends new models and methods for teaching, learning and assessment. Technology will increasingly influence the “classroom of the future.”
The broader goal of education should be to teach our students how to think their way through any problem, because the problems that will confront them in the future have yet to come into existence, although a wealth of feasible solution strategies can be taught today. Rather than teaching a student to solve the same problem five different times as we do in traditional textbooks, it is far more important to teach him to solve that problem five different ways.
While the 3Rs make a contribution to educational success, linking together (1) relevance, (2) visualization, and (3) creativity are the new educational essentials for future inventors now and future economic success. As educators and parents, it is our ultimate responsibility to assist our children and students in building the best brains possible by helping each of them develop a "cognitive tool chest” replete with imaginative as well as everyday solution strategies. Creativity is what intelligent people use when the problems are unconventional and the answers are both clearly unknown at the outset. The answers sometimes remain elusive and must be pursued for a significant amount of time before they reveal themselves to the learner.