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Playshop 4: Symphony

“The world is more highly, more globally, and more surprisingly connected than we thought. — Scientist, Six Degrees of Separation documentary

Essential Questions:

What does the creative aptitude of symphony mean?
What are the implications for learning and teaching?
How can I stretch beyond my disciplinary training to think more transdisciplinary?

Have you ever played the game “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon”? The game has become so popular that Google created a search function that enables you to search for any actor’s name plus “Bacon Number” to determine that actor’s degree of separation from Bacon. The game’s concept is based on the “Six Degrees of Separation” theory that Frigyes Karinthy created and then John Guare popularized in a play (later a movie). Simply stated, the theory is that anyone in the world can be connected within six steps to anyone else. Where did I learn this? From Wikipedia, which is a classic example of network theory in action.

Watch this research study to learn more about the new science of networks and the six degrees of separation theory that prompted a huge breakthrough.

Daniel Pink calls this aptitude to make connections, connect the dots, to see the big pictures — symphony. And, “pictures” can be made up of images, words, or numbers. Vi Hart is a mathematician who takes us on a roller coaster ride through her mind’s connecting process.

Hart’s mantra seems to be . . .

Teaching how to think requires giving power and responsibility to individuals while teaching what to think can be done with one-size fits all bullet points and check boxes.

If we are to solve significant problems that face humanity, then we need a new way of looking at information, at data.

Design is about solving problems and providing elegant solutions — David McCandless

I’ve included data visualization here to highlight the need for all kinds of connections — connections across disciplines. Network theory moves us beyond multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary to more of a holistic or “antidisciplinary” approach. The ultimate approach is transdisciplinary or the science of working across disciplines to solve problems.

For more on data visualization for exploring, reporting, or simply as art, check out Julie Steele’s article “Why Data Visualization Matters.”

© 2013 Creative Inquiry

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