Page 1

Birth of a Salesman CEP 818

The 13 Thinking Tools Of the World’s Most Creative People . 1. Perceiving = 1. Observing & 2. Imaging

2. Patterning = 3. Identifying & 4. Forming Patterns

3. Abstracting = 5. Abstracting & 6. Analogizing

7. Synthesizing = 13. All the tools 4. Embodied Thinking = 7. Body Thinking & 8. Empathizing 6. Playing = 11. Playing & 12. Transforming

5. Modeling = 9. Dimensional Thinking & 10. Modeling

Objective: Students will describe a room in a way that should evoke all the senses in the reader.

Created by: Jean-Claude Aura

December 2010

Page 1


Birth of a Salesman CEP 818 How do these 7 (or 13) thinking tools help improve students’ spatial description skills? Before we start exploring these tools, let’s take a look at students’ traditional understanding of spatial description. It’s very common for students (or anyone else for that matter) to go about describing only the physical aspect of a room. In other words, students’ attention is geared toward the appearance of the room and so they discard all other descriptive features, such as sensation, atmosphere, pleasantness of the room (or otherwise), the key elements in writing that awaken the reader’s senses and increase memory retention through vivid imagery. These writing ingredients spice up a narration and bring it to life, pretty much like a meal full of spices. Chicken is the same everywhere, but what sets one chicken dish apart from the rest is that flavor, that smell, that pleasant sensation on the tongue and mouth that make you drool. That’s right. If the description doesn’t entice the reader, the impact will be insignificant, and the impression that has been formed in their mind will soon wane. So, how do all these thinking tools fit in? It’s pretty simple (you’ll agree with me later). Each tool, dependent in a way on all the others, plays a key role in administering a healthy dose of descriptive nutrients. When combined, these tools turn a dull description into a masterpiece. If you’ve read The Cask of Amontillado by Edgar Allan Poe, you’ll catch the hint. If you haven’t, then the example below should pave the way for the usefulness of these tools. Consider the 2 descriptions below of the same picture.

Description 2

Description 1

There’s a white silky handmade rug neatly laid under a semi-glazed solid oak multi-purpose table.

There’s a white rug under a brown table.

The first description is dry, void, and hardly appeals to the eye (and not at all to the other senses). The second description, on the other hand, is multisensory; it is visual (white, neatly laid, semi-glazed), kinesthetic (silky, handmade), and olfactory (oak). It’s easier to remember the item in the second description because more than one sense is involved.

For students to start thinking in this multisensory direction, they need more than what current school curricula have to offer. Not that schools have to change what they teach; rather, they need to rethink how they teach what they teach. And that’s exactly what this

Created by: Jean-Claude Aura

December 2010

Page 2


Birth of a Salesman CEP 818 paper intends to do – make explicit the role of each of these thinking tools so vital to students’ creative growth. If students are to produce sensational descriptions, they need to go through several mental stages. Below is a brief representation of their mental activity scheme.

1. Perceiving 2. Abstracting 3. Patterning

4. Embodied Thinking 5. Modeling 6. Playing 7. Synthesizing Said differently, students need to understand their topic (perceive), simplify it to its core elements (abstract), notice anything unusual about it or give it a specific form (pattern), identify with the reader through empathy (embodied thinking), scale the topic up or down for a better global perspective (model), try out different representations of the topic (play), and finally combine all these skills to produce a coherent task (synthesize). The first thing students need to do is to perceive, or understand, the nature of the room. When students are presented with the room, they need to identify its function (living room, bedroom …), its nature (antique, modern), its size (small, spacious), all that by looking for specific clues. They also need to ‘flip’ the room in their mind to see it from different angles. For example, the picture below represents a bedroom. But is it only a bedroom? Can’t it be a study room as well?

It’s pretty much like affirming that a toothpick is for removing food particles lodged between the teeth, but is this the case in the pictures below?

Created by: Jean-Claude Aura

December 2010

Page 3


Birth of a Salesman CEP 818

Now that students have identified the type of room to describe, they should weed out the superfluous details to reduce the room to its core elements. This strategy, called abstracting, is particularly helpful in underlying the main function and appearance of the room, a very useful point at the beginning of the narration. At this point, students need not dwell on details. What matters is the overall aspect of the room. It really doesn’t matter at this point what color the TV is, or whether the plant is a fern or a fountain plant.

Abstraction of room

Real room

After students have visualized the room and identified its main components, they need to find out if the room presents any particular patterns. Patterns are appealing because they’re easy to remember. Consider the 2 card arrangements below. Which would you remember more easily?

These 2 sets of cards on the left have a pattern and can be easily remembered.

The set on the right, on the other hand, has no specific pattern and is hard to remember.

Created by: Jean-Claude Aura

December 2010

Page 4


Birth of a Salesman CEP 818 Just as important as card arrangement is for a card player, describing a room according to a specific pattern helps the reader retain as much of the description as possible. Students can also compose a poem that reflects the arrangement of the furniture. Compare the room with its patterned poem.

The poem describes the room both verbally and visually. With the verses positioned to reflect the furniture arrangement, the poem informs the reader of the visual aspect of the room. This, in turn, supports memory retention.

Now that students have formed a mental image of the room and associated a certain easyto-remember pattern to it, it’s time to move from the physical to the emotional. This can be achieved through embodied thinking, a technique in which students put themselves in their readers’ shoes and experience the room from their perspective. It’s time to spice up the description with those hidden, yet very much alive, pleasure-inducing words that give the room a new dimension. It’s pretty much like personifying the room, giving it animate attributes. A white sofa is less alive than a white leather sofa, which in turn is less vibrant than a sturdy white leather sofa. Each descriptive word adds to the sensation that the sofa provides. To achieve such a creative breadth, students can’t rely simply on visual input. They must make use of kinesthesia and other sense mediators to create a sense of being in the room. While visualizing, abstracting, patterning and embodying are all great tools, they’re not quite sufficient to build that innovative description. What’s still missing is modeling, a technique in which students either scale up or scale down the object of study to place it in one visible spot. In this case, students will have to come up with a reduced model of the room to see how each part blends with the other and how each piece of furniture fits in with the rest. Describing the living room and dining separately is one thing, and explaining how the two sections interact to create a multi-purpose room is another.

Created by: Jean-Claude Aura

December 2010

Page 5


Birth of a Salesman CEP 818

Intermingling the 2 sections of the room creates a feeling of wholeness, making the room more spacious and multi-purpose. This is possible only through scaling down the room to fit it all in one visible spot.

The real room below could be scaled down and modeled to get a better overall picture.

modeled room

real room

The stage before last is playing. Deep play, as opposed to leisurely or superficial play, yields totally unpredictable results and ranks at the top of the creativity process. Students explore the different ways in which the furniture can be arranged, thus creating a variety of designs that in turn give birth to a number of interesting patterns. Students have at their disposal a set of ready-made clay furniture as well as unmolded clay to design further pieces of furniture to their liking.

coffee table

Created by: Jean-Claude Aura

dining room

December 2010

plant

Page 6


Birth of a Salesman CEP 818

sofas

speaker

TV unit

This can be compared to a card player trying out different starts to inspect his opponent’s reaction. If all players played by the rules and conformed to standards, their moves would be predictable and playing would turn into a boring activity. Winners rarely abide by standards. They are almost always innovating new moves to surprise their opponent. In the same way, giving students the chance to fiddle with the different pieces of furniture to come up with designs of their own adds fun and the element of surprise to the activity. So, what’s next? Well, what’s left is to use all these techniques simultaneously to create a coherent task. This last mental stage is called synthesizing. It’s the act of putting together all these tools to achieve the intended task, writing a descriptive essay of a room. Put in another way, students have to visualize the room and flip it around in their mind, abstract it to get its main features, find a particular pattern to make it easy to remember, embody it to get a feel of it, model it to blend the different parts, play around for surprising results, and finally undertake the writing task. If you look closely at all the world’s inventors, you’ll notice that all of them enjoyed these powerful thinking tools. Somewhere along the line, schools stifled this natural human phenomenon and traded it with a more rigorous, scholarly approach. As a result, learning has become less interdisciplinary and more modular. It’s time we restored those good old habits. Besides, You won’t know how effective these tools are until you’ve tried them out. As the old saying goes, ‘The proof of the pudding is in the eating’. It’s your turn to unleash the long-buried creative spirit in your students. After all, they deserve this chance.

Created by: Jean-Claude Aura

December 2010

Page 7

Birth of s Salesman  

This document highlights the importance of using the 13 thinking tools of the world's most creative people to improve students' writing skil...

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you