“Thinkering’ is a word coined by Michael Ondaatje in his novel The English Patient. It expresses the creation and understanding of concepts in the mind while tinkering with the hands.
When we physically engage with things, especially with our hands, we generate a great variety of sensory images. These sensory images help us understand our immediate realty and serve us in our personal and shared meaning making.
A surprisingly large part of the human brain is dedicated to controlling the hands. Therefore, when people construct things with their hands they simultaneously construct theories and knowledge in their minds. When we “think with our hands” we create more new neural connection thus unleashing creative energies, new modes of thought, and novel ways of seeing what most adults have forgotten they even possessed. The notion of “learning by making”, or “thinking with your hands”, draws on neuroscience, the use of play and expressive arts in therapy. It bring out insights and learning that intellectual reasoning alone might not be able to discover.
LEGO® SERIOUS® PLAY® for Positive Psychology has shown that adults can regain their ability to play, which offers creative possibilities because it emphasizes freedom and plays down responsibility, self-consciousness and shame. This non-judgemental environment of play is more likely to foster surprising and innovative ideas.