In top-down education or management models the teacher is the expert who shares his or her knowledge with the students. Such a learning model places a heavy emphasis on memorising and reproducing this information, rather than exploring its personal meaning, social and cultural context and objective truth value. This encourages students to go into a performance driven (executive) focus, which limits their scope of possible interpretations and alternative solutions.
In a facilitated learning model the teacher is a guide who helps students become critical thinkers. The emphasis is on meaning making and divergent thinking, whereby personal perceptions are placed in a social and cultural context and probed for their objective truth value. This puts students in a meaning driven (connective) focus, which is activated by strong personal and social engagement.
An increasing body of neuroscience studies have demonstrated close links between creative processes and the brain network that regulates how we reflect on ourselves and others. This means that:
1) first of all creative training requires a personally engaging and social learning approach.
2) Another important finding from these studies is that personal experience of creativity or art simultaneously activates the reflecting and executive network that are otherwise often counteractive.
3) This co-activation has also been shown to play a very important role in creative thought processes and problem solving.
These findings provide a strong argument that creative literacy training is crucial for shaping open minds and should make use of the engaging power of the arts itself such as painting, photo’s, poetry or music. The mentor is guiding the participant through the bumpy process, yet leaving the interpretation open to the participant him/herself.
Combinatory play seems to be the essential feature in productive thought.