More Thursday Keynotes: On Learning and Creativity

We’re now into the third of the four addresses in today’s plenary session. These four keynotes are all about the conference’s main theme, teaching and learning for creativity. It’s been fascinating to see this come from very different disciplines: an engineer, a jazz pianist turned educational psychologist, an adviser for a major educational nonprofit, and a cognitive neuroscience professor.

The thing I’m noticing most today is how much more I’m enjoying this conference than I ever have before. In past years, I felt like the speakers have been more inclined to talk a little self-consciously about The Brain: their slides all featured some brain scans and used a lot more specialized vocabulary to describe neurological processes. This is partly because those sorts of conversations were more closely aligned with the conference theme; however, I think that past conferences have felt more like opportunities for people to learn about the brain and its function. Past conferences felt a lot more like Learning: Here’s How It Works in the Brain.

This year, it’s different: this entire day is about creativity, but we’ve talked about emotion, motivation, multiple intelligences, neuroplasticity, and metacognition. There have been fewer ponderous MRI and PET scans of cortices and more pictures of actual children. This year, it feels much more like Learning and the Brain: Here’s How They Work Together.

This may be a cultural shift in the conference; it may be indicative of an increasingly savvy audience; it may just be a coincidence. At any rate, my MBE heart is singing here: this conference is about how neuroscience, cognitive science, and educational practice can address teaching and learning for creativity. It’s stopped being about an introduction to MBE and has become an MBE-spirited discussion about major challenges in education. I feel like I’m watching the promise of this movement being fulfilled before my eyes.

As you can see, I’m having a blast. More to come!!

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