Friday, March 18, 2011

Thinking Like Einstein ~

It's Friday already! In looking around for something to share with you, I found an interesting chapter on Albert Einstein in Michael Gelb's Discover Your Genius: How To Think Like History's Ten Most Revolutionary Minds. In his book, Gelb focuses on  the lives of 10 amazing and influencial people. I find Einstein an interesting character and will simply give you some information to consider. And you may get help with your child's learning style.  All of the material is from Gelb's book. Pictures are by Mary Cassatt, 1844-1926.
Where are you when you get your best ideas? Over the past twenty years I've asked thousands of people this question. Most people answer that they get their best ideas while resting in bed, driving their cars, or relaxing in the shower or bath. It is very rare for people to say tht they get their best ideas at work.
What happens in the car, in bed, or in the shower that isn't happening in the workplace? Relaxation. And the freedom from the fear of criticism that allows our natural process of combinatory play to flourish. How can we create an atmosphere in the workplace that encourages the generation and application of our best ideas? Experiment with the following.
Take Brain Breaks

Punctuate meetings and problem-solving sessions with ten minutes of play every hour or two. Juggling, stretching exercises, or a whistling contest will not only lighten up the proceedings and stimulate creativity but will also improve recall.

Take a Child to Work

Many companies sponsor "Take your daughter/son to work" days. The idea is to help childen understand their parents' jobs and to educate them about the world of work. All in all, an admirable activity. If Einstein were in charge, however, he might suggest a different emphasis: invite your children to the workplace and ask them to offer ideas on how to make work more like play. 

Create an Einstein Room

Einstein's parents encouraged his natural talent for imagination by creating a stimulus-rich, brain-nourishing environment. Psychologists have known for many years that the quality of stimulation provided by the external environment is crucial to brain development in the early years of life. Brain researcher Dr. Richard Restak emphasizes that this holds true for adults as well. 
     "Throughout life, not just during the first few months, the brain's synaptic organization can be altered by the external environment." Alter your external environment to liberate yourself from "cubicle-consciousness" and promote creativity in the workplace. Take over a conference room and transform it into an Einstein Room. Replace the standard office furniture with comfortable chairs and a couch, bring in fresh flowers and live plants, and hang inspiring art on the walls. Install a stereo and assemble a collection of favorite music (Einstein particularly loved Bach and Mozart). Fill the room with large whiteboards and flip charts and stock it with colored pens. Use this room for combinatory play sessions on important work issues.                                                      

David Chu, president and co-founder of Nautica, comments on thinking like Einstein in his work: "The concept of Nautica arose from creative daydreaming sessions. The idea was to create an exprssion of a vibrant and fulfilling lifestyle that would be universally appealing. In playing with this blueprint for a design philosophy the image of the ocean kept surging to the front of my mind. Suddenly it became clear--water is everywhere--the ocean represents adventure, life, and unlimited possibility. After Einstein intuited his theory he had to do the math to prove it, just as we had to do the business, stragetic, and financial planning to make the dream of Nautica real. The balance of imagination and play with hard, disciplined business thinking is what we've tried to create as the basis of our culture, and Einstein provides the perfect inspiration for balancing these two sides."

ATTENTION PARENTS                                                                             

If you have a child with adjustment problems in school, a little boy who seems lost in his own daydreams, or a little girl who marches only to the sound of her own idiosyncratic drumbeat, take heart! You may be raising another Einstein or Darwin. Over the course of his formal education, Einstein failed a number of subjects, was told by one of his teachers that he would "never amount to anything," and was expelled from one of his schools for being "a disruptive influence." 

Nevertheless, Einstein's parents were consistently supportive and nurtured their son's highly individual approach to learning. Einstein's parent's understood, intuitively, that their son had what we now call an alternative learning style.
If you have a child with a different style of learning, you'll want to guide that child's education accordingly, as Einstein's parents did when they found the alternative school in Aarau that was based on the educational philosopy of Johann Pestalozzi. Three modern geniuses of education--Maria Montessori (who was inspired in part by Pestalozzi), Rudolph Steiner, and J. Krishnamurti--created developmental curricula that are particularly valuable for children with learning differences.

You may also find that the ten geniuses [from this book] form the core of a powerful curriculum for nurturing the genius potential in your children. You can easily modify most of the exercises in this book for use with them. Children's natural orientation to question everything makes them highly receptive to your using the Socratic method to guide them through the pantheon of genius. And you'll find that, in many cases, your children are already applying the exercises from the book, such as "practice wonder" from the Plato chapter--on their own. You may be surprised and delighted to discover how much more you can get our of the exercises by doing them with your kids.

Gelb writes two more pages about the way these 10 geniuses can help you teach your children. I'm not giving you that information because it is very long. But I'll give you a final word from Einstein, who counseled his students at Princeton to regard their studies "as the enviable opportunity to learn to know the liberating influence of beauty in the realm of the spirit for your own personal joy and to the profit of the community to which your later work belongs."

And, by the way, Einstein believed that having a sense of humor was paramount. After receiving the Nobel Prize in 1921, Einstein was an international icon for genius, besieged by autograph seekers, fans of all kinds, and the world's press. In a note to an old friend, he sent along a poem that he wrote which reflected his more humble, playful, irreverent, and humorous side.
Whever I go and wherever I stay,
There's always a picture of me on display.                                     
On top of the desk or out in the hall,
Tied round a neck, or hung on the wall.

Women and men, they play a strange game,
Asking, beseeching: "Please sign your name."
From the crudite fellow they brokk not a quibble,
But firmly insist on a piece of his scribble.

Sometimes, surrounded by all this good cheer,
I'm puzzled by some of the things that I hear,
And wonder, my mind for a moment not hazy,
If I and not they could really be crazy.

So, say whatever you think, I hope that you found these thoughts interesting and applicable to your life. 


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