I read a truly fabulous article today which made me dance for joy in my seat. (And then have flashbacks to my first trip to Disney World and the song Figment sang in the Imagination Pavilion. Which has now been stuck in my head for several hours.) This article, “Fresh Approaches to Sparking Creativity” reports on the findings of two studies into engaging the imagination and giving it more scope, first through exposure to and comparison of multicultural information (photos, video, music), and second through putting oneself in the mindset of a child.
“seeding the imagination is as simple as allowing yourself to think like a 7-year-old” -Tom Jacobs, “Fresh Approaches to Sparking Creativity”
Now, as an avid advocate for the world of interdisciplinary learning, I read the first half of the article with a great amount of pleasure. In fact, I said “Aha! Vindication!” because my travel-minded mother has always advocated for exposure to other cultures, and consequently so have I. In fact, the incredibly strong multicultural collections of the Peabody Essex Museum are one of its main attractors to me from a programming standpoint. There’s just so much source material! (And by the way, the Sensational India festival is coming up soon, if you’d like to put this imagination-sparking theory to the test!)
However, the second study report went straight to the heart for me. Childlike thinking? I’m all over that. 🙂
When working with the Explorers at The Discovery Museums, one of my favorite training exercises was called “When I was a child.” In this exercise, we gave each Explorer a sheet asking them to write down what they remembered from specific ages (4-6, 7-8, 9-10, 10-12): whom did they play with? what kinds of games or activities did they like? what were their favorite things to do? and then gave them somewhere between 5-10 minutes to jot down their answers before offering them the opportunity to share some of their favorite memories, one age at a time.
Not only was it great fun to participate (why let the trainees have all the fun?), but it was fabulous to watch people’s faces and voices change, to see them grin reminiscently and light up with enthusiasm. Keying into that energy helps us to understand what a museum’s visitors are all about at certain ages. It’s a fabulous way to talk about child development and visitor interaction without ever getting into the psychobabble or technicalities.
Plus it’s good for your brain.