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Transforming the Mind ~ by Peter Shepherd



Particularly within formal education, where the skills involved in creating should be given maximum opportunity to flourish and develop, there is precious little understanding of the frames of mind responsible for creative thought and of the nature of the teaching strategies that facilitate their expression. After the early years of schooling, the educational system seems to become dominated by telic thinking and to militate ever more strongly against the paratelic state. There is ample emphasis upon the telic aspects of creativity as the preparation and verification stages, but little allowance for the paratelic joy of illumination, or for the spontaneous outflow of powerful feelings. The editor rules, though all too often the author is unable to supply him with anything worth the editing.

“After the early years of schooling, the educational system seems to become dominated by telic thinking and to militate ever more strongly against the paratelic state.”
Since examinations are a serious matter, the student approaches them in a highly telic state and any arousal is experienced as anxiety, with all the inhibitions that anxiety can bring to bear upon both memory and creative expression. Since they are carefully timed affairs, it virtually rules out the stage of incubation. Small wonder that the resulting papers are usually stereotyped, lack flair and imagination, and fail to probe deeply and come up with original solutions. That is how students have been taught to use their minds, perhaps as a reflection of the teachers themselves, pressurised by strict timetables and limited curriculums.

A natural result of this approach is that students are soon conditioned to fear possibilities for making mistakes, of revealing ignorance or showing their feelings. This fear causes telic anxiety and they prefer to operate at low arousal. They then get bored, start to misbehave, the teachers react with more restriction and a negative learning spiral is established.

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