In this bold book Robert and Michele Root-Bernstein vividly describe how geniuses, from Albert Einstein and Richard Feynman to e. e. cummings and Isabel Allende, use a common tool box of mental skills to create new ideas and expressions in every area of the arts and sciences. The authors assure us that the interests of many imaginative thinkers matured slowly, and they suggest activities to help all of us produce our best and most gratifying work now.
Readers who have been excited by Howard Gardner's books on multiple intelligences and Daniel Goleman's national bestseller Emotional Intelligences will eagerly respond to Imagine That!: Tools for Thinking Creatively. Heavily illustrated, the book will find a receptive audience among all those interested in creativity and education, people who are in school or who have children, and anyone contemplating a career change.
Operating on the arguable assumption that creative thinking is essentially pre-verbal, intuitive and emotional, the Root-Bernsteins (Honey, Mud, Maggots, and Other Medical Marvels) outline 13 "tools" that help translate spontaneous imaginative experiences into specific media, such as painting, music, scientific experiments and poetry. Among the techniques they identify and describe are "imaging," "abstracting," "body thinking" and "empathizing." Although there is considerable overlap between categories (for example, in the sections on "analogizing" and on "recognizing patterns"), the Root-Bernsteins succeed in defining each category's uniqueness. Freely acknowledging that they are not asserting anything startlingly novel, the authors present an impressive number of firsthand accounts of the creative process, from Albert Einstein and Merce Cunningham to Oliver Sacks and Charles Ives. Some may have trouble accepting the premise that all creative thinking--whether for poetic composition or scientific experiment, and regardless of the thinker's native culture or language--is "universally" categorizable, but the authors make a strong case for a view that is becoming increasingly popular. They conclude with a list of suggestions for how to transform education from the elementary level up so that it is better suited to our demanding, multidimensional culture. (Jan.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.