Making connections is at the heart of learning—figuring out what’s the same and what’s different—and making unusual connections is at the core of creativity.
In a world where information is so accessible, it is the people who can see connections who are able to go beyond knowing information to using this information well.
Think about your most recent “aha” moment—when you suddenly understood something that you didn’t understand before. Chances are this “aha” moment involved seeing a new connection.
Making connections involves putting information into categories as well as seeing how one thing can represent or stand for something else. Ultimately, it involves:
· figuring out what’s the same or similar;
· figuring out how one thing relates to another; and
· finding unusual connections, often by being able to inhibit an automatic response, by reflecting, and by selecting something that is connected in a different way.
When playing games like Chutes and Ladders ask the child to say the number of the spaces she lands on, and not just the number on the spinner. so she can learn how the numbers relate to each other.
Judy Deloache of the University of Virginia shows the importance of understanding symbolic representations in the video clip below.