Minds, bodies, and creativity

You may know (I hope!) how much room sets matter when it comes to creating a space where real learning can happen, but do you know just how much what's going on with our bodies affects our thinking and, consequently, our learning? I know I've talked about cross-sensory perception before, and I even had the opportunity to tap into the brilliance of Kare Anderson to learn more.

And now I just ran across this New York Times article on how literally thinking outside the box can boost creativity. Illustrating that there may just be some truth in truisms, even those as trite and overused as "thinking outside the box," is research by Suntae Kim, a doctoral candidate and Jeffrey Sanchez-Burks, an associate professor, at the University of Michigan; and Evan Polman, a visiting assistant professor of management and organizations at New York University. According to the Times, students facing creative challenges came up with 20 percent more creative solutions when sitting outside a literal box than inside one. And the old saw about weighing something on one hand and then the other before making a decision? Again, taken literally, in students who were asked to come up with new uses for a university complex who were "allowed to switch hands — in other words, to think about a problem on 'one hand' and then 'on the other hand' — we found a nearly 50 percent increase in the number of uses generated."

So, if people literally let a cat out of a bag, do they become more loosely lipped?

If you get people who haven't been on one for years to ride a bike, do they find it easier to remember other skills?

If you have people fall off a horse and then climb back on, do they become more resilient in other areas?

If you have people sit in glass houses and throw stones, do they become develop better self control?

So much to research, so little time!

And now a little postscript that also relates to creativity, though in a different way: This was some seriously smart PR work on the part of SoHoSoleil Locations, which according to its Web site is an "exclusive group of New York rental spaces for corporate meetings, events, photo, TV, and video shoots." Someone there forwarded the link to the NYT article to me, and it is a terrific argument for using just the sort of space I saw when I looked them up. Nice!

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