In “Penguin Highway” by Tomihiko Morimi, Aoyama is a curious boy in the fourth grade. He takes copious notes, researches everything, makes observations, and never gets angry. When ever he feels like he might get angry, he thinks of breasts, and it calms him down. Is that normal for a fourth grader? I don’t know, but it’s normal for Aoyama, who is clearly not an ordinary child.
When Aoyama is confronted with several problems, he decides to research them all. His friend Uchida and the girl Hamamoto help him with the time he has to spend on researching “The Sea.” Uchida is also part of his exploring and mapping the town. His side project is researching the lady from the dentist office who can make penguins, which is what sparks the whole story.
Aoyama shows that its not good enough to ask the questions. He keeps a journal with him at all times. Hamamoto does the same, and Uchida learns to use a notebook, even if he isn’t the smartest one in the group. Taking notes allows Aoyama to access the information he has learned at a later time. It also allows him to manipulate the data, so he can get a bigger picture.
Taking notes requires observation skills. Aoyama has practiced observing, so he sees what others may miss. He then makes hypotheses and tests them to see if they can withstand the scientific method. He knows his theories are most likely wrong, but it’s important to make and test them.
Aoyama’s methods are honed and only missing one piece – sometimes, the answer doesn’t lie in the logic of a situation or possible behavior. In creativity, the process is similar: take notes, observe, ask questions and stay curious; sometimes, you have to make that intuitive leap to a better answer.
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