Strangely enough, I didn’t kill myself as much to prepare for these past two classes. I think it’s mainly due to my figuring out how to become more efficient. Two screens. Banana and organic peanut butter with a wink of cinnamon. Shelley’s book laid out in front of me at a 37.8 degree angle. Ganesha’s blessings. Boom. And the color yellow.
Week Three: Connect
I like to make my students feel uncomfortable by taking photos.
This class I began with a new type of brainstorm. Rather than writing/drawing in abundance with no limits, I tried a new tactic: establish a paradigm. This paradigm was still rather unrestrained, as all it required was the students to connect their ideas directly from each other by drawing a line and a bubble. It started from leaf and I think we ended up with things like Oscar the Grouch, video games, narcissism, and cavemen.
Then proceeded into the four ways I broke down the connect brainset: defocused attention, divergent thinking, connections/metaphors, and a dose of happiness.
I’ve always loved teaching about divergent thinking because it’s so contradictory to the style of learning usually approached within schools. The fine arts usually tries to tackle the idea generation phenomenon moreso than other classes. And of course, it’s part of my neuroscience thesis. I first brushed upon the three types of problems: reasonable, unreasonable, and illogical. Reasonable – straightforward question and one straightforward, singular answer (i.e. SAT, school tests). Unreasonable – straightforward question with one answer as well, but one is required to “think outside the box” in order to solve it (i.e. brain teasers). The example I let them try was to draw 9 dots and they had to connect all 9 of them with four straight lines. Don’t scroll down for the solution unless you really can’t be bothered. Okay sweet I know you already saw it.
The last type of problem is illogical, which ties in with divergent thinking. It is a singular question that has many answers. The one I proposed to them was “What if you were about to give a speech on healthcare but your fly was unzipped and the zipper was broken?” Their responses ranged from: “Get a penguin to stand in front of you” to “Incorporate the metaphor of an unzipped fly into your speech” to “use a stamp”.
Then we jumped into actually practicing the figural portion of the TTCT. I provided these three symbols and asked them to draw whatever came to mind as long as they used these sketches. Here are responses I got (started on paper then some volunteered to draw on the board):
I felt that my section on connections and metaphors was too broad. There were so many beautiful things about metaphors and its interplay in our lives that I wanted to cover but 2 hours weren’t quite enough. So I ended up sprinting through the last third of the class (almost to no effect…).
But I did have them practice synesthesia thinking! Synesthesia – the condition of reading colors and hearing smells. Sometimes people are confused when asked to imagine what it may be like to dance textures or taste sounds, but it’s a lot more intuitive than most people imagine. We operate our lives through the function of metaphor – almost no communication would be valid without this concept. The main difference between a true synesthesiate and someone practicing synesthesia is the element of spontaneity (synesthesiates can’t inhibit this).
Anyways, I had them do the smelling-drawing activity I typically like to use. Then we experimented with listening to music, describing how being “courageous” felt in our bodies, what the word narcissism tastes like, and a few more.
Click here to see some random student responses to the DT questions and synesthesia questions.
Here is the powerpoint.
Week four will be up soon.
I promise we’ll be more productive soon.
I got to sit on Siri’s Art and Yoga class last week. One student’s response to my question “How’d you find the TTCT?” was “I did so bad on that test. I’m so uncreative.” I get that response from so many adults. It made me think – even just bringing up the challenge of being creative in a classroom setting can completely change someone’s mindset. Or maybe it doesn’t. Just something to chew on, like the color purple.