Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Visualization and the Human Brain
(Part 4)

Several states have responded with an “innovation index” to address the uneasiness expressed by American business leaders concerning the lack of innovative thinking in today’s young job-seekers. “What if...?" and "Ah-hah!” have become unwelcome academic intruders treated with derision and disdain, and subsequently have been suppressed in our schools, where "filling in the bubble" and “teaching to the test” reign supreme. Standardized testing is quite unforgiving to creativity, although a student’s unconventional answer may reflect far more insight than the multiple-choice options presented. Even scientists don’t always agree. The novel ideas from some of the most celebrated scientists were initially rejected and those perspectives subsequently, remained unpublished for decades.

Inside the brain, there are over 1,000,000 miles of nerve fibers (the “white matter” connections), with over one quadrillion connections that can link brain cells one another. Through these connections, we develop a remarkable ability to create and invent -- the byproducts of teaching students to visualize multiple unique solutions to a stated challenge.

The European Union designated 2009 as the "European Year of Creativity and Innovation." In support of that declaration, conferences on the neuroscience of creativity, real-world inquiry, and teacher training took place. Korean students ranked first in the world in reading, first in the world in math, and third in the world for science achievement in the PISA (Program for International Student Assessment) report. The former South Korean Minister of Education Byong-man Ahn, said recently “…the current administration of President Lee Myung-bak has focused its policy efforts on creating the type of education in which creativity is emphasized over rote learning.” 

The #1 “leadership competency” of the future, as identified by 1,500 CEOs, will be “creativity.” Continuing educational practices designed for top ranking in the Industrial Age should not be our national goal, when the leading nations have stepped up to the next plateau in the advancement of our species -- the Innovation Age. Global economic viability in the decades to come will be the ultimate report card for educational accountability. Even more important, Professor Yong Zhoa released a new study recently indicating that there is an inverse relationship between test scores and entrepreneurship globally.
So much for "No Child Left Behind" as a means of laying the foundation for our nation's future economic success.

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