Graham Wallas, cofounder of the London School of Economics and author of The Art of Thought in 1926, came up with a formula, if you will, on how to come up with insights. He called these mental steps "stages of control."
The first step is preparation: you spend hours, if not days, struggling, battling, banging your head against a way, trying to solve or figure out a problem. (Remember: if you give up too early, the second step may not be effective.)
The second step is incubation: you put the problem out of your mind; you literally walk away from it. Wallas figured that during this time, some "internal mental process" was taking place, reorganizing old and new information on a subconscious level.
The third step is called illumination. This is when that lightbulb turns on above your head, and the answer is imminently apparent.
The final step is verification, checking to make sure the answer or results actually work.
Ultimately, it is the second step, incubation, that is the key to solving problems or discovering insights. So anytime you're really stuck on a problem, then it's time for incubation. What do you do for this time?
(Source: How We Learn, Carey)
Daniel H. Lee
This blog will be dedicated to sharing in three areas: happenings in my classroom and school; analysis and distillation of other educators' wealth of knowledge in various texts; insights from other disciplines and areas of expertise that relate and connect with educational practices.