Friday, February 05, 2016

Creativity: Encouraging Breadth

Did Einstein really say this?
Birna Birgisdóttir

In a recent Sunday Review of the New York Times (January 30, 2016), Adam Grant explains "How to Raise a Creative Child. Step One: Back Off":
Evidence shows that creative contributions depend on the breadth, not just depth, of our knowledge and experience. In fashion, the most original collections come from directors who spend the most time working abroad. In science, winning a Nobel Prize is less about being a single-minded genius and more about being interested in many things. Relative to typical scientists, Nobel Prize winners are 22 times more likely to perform as actors, dancers or magicians; 12 times more likely to write poetry, plays or novels; seven times more likely to dabble in arts and crafts; and twice as likely to play an instrument or compose music.

No one is forcing these luminary scientists to get involved in artistic hobbies. It's a reflection of their curiosity. And sometimes, that curiosity leads them to flashes of insight. "The theory of relativity occurred to me by intuition, and music is the driving force behind this intuition," Albert Einstein reflected. His mother enrolled him in violin lessons starting at age 5, but he wasn't intrigued. His love of music only blossomed as a teenager, after he stopped taking lessons and stumbled upon Mozart's sonatas. "Love is a better teacher than a sense of duty," he said.
I agree. Passion drove my doctoral research, and I have breadth. So . . . why don't I have a position in my field? Not enough passion for the job-search battle, I guess.

By the way, did Einstein really say any of these pithy statements attributed to him?



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