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Thinking at the Edge

Creativity in education often takes the form of concentrated periods of arts-based ‘light relief’ from the rigours of the National Curriculum. In psychology, on the other hand, creativity is often associated with a dramatic moment of ‘illumination’ in solving scientific, mathematical or practical problems. This paper explores a third approach called ‘thinking at the edge’ (TATE) that is based on a therapeutic practice called ‘focusing’ devised by American philosopher Eugene Gendlin. TATE involves learning the knack of delicate inward attention to a somatic process of ‘epistemic evolution’, in which hazy, pre-conceptual ideas are given time to unfold into novel forms of talking and thinking. Particular forms of exploratory writing and exploratory conversation contribute to this evolutionary process. It is argued that TATE forms a useful addition to the expanding suite of ‘positive learning dispositions’ that lie at the heart of learning to learn; constitutes a corrective to an over-rationalistic approach to teaching ‘thinking skills’, and offers a clear example of how learning 20 dispositions may potentially be cultivated in educational settings.

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