Friday, September 11, 2015

Creative Musing - Tip #72

Learning is a creative process. We start with a question, a challenge, a problem, an opportunity or possibly simple or complex tasks. Then we go back to asking more questions. Because of what we want to do, accomplish or learn, our minds go through discovery and creativity.

Recursive learning and Creativity
The focus of this tip is on Recursive Learning and Creativity. People learn recursively. We connect past experiences, with new experiences, and formulate new insights.
These then, become part of our new and improved expertise. Doing these repeatedly help us build skills, mastery and expertise.

The compounding effect of incremental insights show us where our interest areas are,
and where our vocation and our passion lie. People tend to do things that give them pleasure. What gives them pleasure allows them to pursue interests. Eventually and along the way, our expertise is rooted in our passions and vocations, whether we are consciously
or just unknowingly pursuing them.

Generating insights is normal and common. But deepening insights which is a creative process requires some level of intensity and penetration of desire. Is it difficult to attain? Not really.

It is easily provided when it is incremental - thinking through your insights as it happens
is where the epiphany is. It is like when you eat really great food at a 5-Star Michelin restaurant. It is at the moment when your taste buds savor the flavor - at that moment - where experience is highest. This is the moment of ecstatic insights, sometimes euphoria or the Aha!moment. This is similar to the feeling when one generates fresh ideas to change a product and improve services in order to achieve organizational goals. This is similar to the Aha! moment when one discovers the connection between two previously unrelated concepts.
According to David Jones, "Aha! moments may be sudden, but they probably depend on an unconscious mental process that has grown slowly." Jones argues further that we can't truly have new ideas, rather, we can connect existing facts or notions by observing others. 

The Social Component of Creativity

Creativity does not occur in a vacuum. Experts agree that while creativity or insight is a personal experience, "creative thinking is not so much an individual trait but rather a social phenomenon involving interactions among people within their specific group or cultural settings."

By curating and sharing back to the community "prompt questions," members find it easier or faster to direct their attention to answers and therefore facilitate discovery and insights.

The most intriguing part about prompt questions is that it sends or kicks off learners into an automatic recursive learning process. When we ask questions, our minds go on autopilot to find what we already know, then search outside what else we can know. This allows us to reflect and gain insights -- this is recursive learning or creative musing in action. This happens in milliseconds. Although this is most often unconscious, it is most effective in learning and gaining insights.

Two phases of creative musing

We introduced the process called "Path2X trending" which means that as you add and record insights, you are able to see your "crumbs" - where you have been and what you have been thinking aloud, and the interests you are pursuing and the knowledge and learning that you are accumulating. In essence you are building expertise, but instead of a whimsical and tentative way, we allow members to see the trends of their insights. Here are the two phases of creative musing: 

1. Generative phase - During this phase, one tends to generate different solutions to a given problem. Also known as the divergent phase, the creative mind is in a brainstorming mode and tries to consider a variety of ways in which a problem can be approached and a solution can be had. This is what we commonly call "out of the box" thinking.

2. Exploratory/Evaluative phase - Also known as the convergent phase, during this phase the creative mind tends to focus on the best solution to the problem. No longer is the mind brainstorming ideas, rather, with surgical precision, it decides on what to do and faces the problem head on. 

According to Robert L. DeHaan, "During the generative process, the creative mind pictures a set of novel mental models as potential solutions to a problem. In the exploratory phase, we evaluate the multiple options and select the best one."


Creativity is the result of incremental and recursive learning. While we tend to think of it as an innate talent, it cannot be separated from the social context. As a matter of fact, it is enhanced by social interaction as observed from the curated "prompt questions" by TMN members. With "Path2X trending," members can focus and see the trend of their creative musings.


Robert L. DeHaan. Teaching Creativity and Inventive Problem Solving in ScienceDivision of Educational Studies, Emory University, Atlanta, GA 30322

David Jones. The Aha! Moment: A Scientist Take on Creativity. The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2715 North Charles Street, Baltimore Maryland 21218-4363


Ray Jimenez, PhD
Vignettes Learning
"Helping Learners Learn Their Way"

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