Friday, July 25, 2008

Push Creativity


Parents, you hear this often: push creativity, do not harbor it; let it sail. In the article "No New Einstein" by Lee Smolin in PHYSICS TODAY, Smolin discusses the possible reasons for not having found the next Einstein. The article points a finger towards institutions and universities for not pushing their students and those involved to be more creative and forward thinking. According to Smolin, creativity and intellectual independence are not promoted and encouraged within the walls of these universities and institutions. Yet, Marlys Stapelbroek of North Tustin, California, wrote in to PHYSICS TODAY in response to the article.


Stapelbroek regales readers of her own experience with the harboring of creative thought with her daughter. While in the first grade, Stapelbroek's daughter was asked by the teacher to take a rectangular sheet of paper and "cut it in half the long way." With creative thought and her best interpretation of that statement, her daughter cut the paper diagonally, from one corner to the other. The teacher told the little girl that she was wrong. 


Technically, it was the longest cut the little girl could have made on the sheet of paper, yet it was not what the teacher had in mind. Was the little girl wrong? Or was the teacher wrong for not encouraging such a creative young mind and perhaps finding a way to take it a step further?


The point Stapelbroek was trying to make is simply this: though Smolin has a valid point that harboring the encouragement of creative and intellectual thought within the universities and institutions is prohibiting us from finding the next Einstein, perhaps it starts well before students reach the doors of universities. Stapelbroek ponders on the thought of where her daughter could be today had there been more encouragement from her teachers when she was a child. Her daughter is undoubtedly successful with her studies today, however, how much further could she have been had the search for the next Einstein started sooner than when students reach universities?


Everyone is given an extraordinary gift as soon as they are conceived, and that is the power of thought and the capability to learn and grow. Spend more time nurturing those young minds.

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