A New Way of Thinking: A Creative Conversation with Marie Manthey, MNA, FRCN, FAAN, and Berenice Bleedorn, PhD

By Steffen, Lori | Creative Nursing, April 1, 2013 | Go to article overview

A New Way of Thinking: A Creative Conversation with Marie Manthey, MNA, FRCN, FAAN, and Berenice Bleedorn, PhD


Steffen, Lori, Creative Nursing


Creativity might be divided into cognitive and artistic creativity. Artistic creativity consists in the creation of artwork and expressing one's ideas and emotions through various forms of art. Critical thinking as such is not opposed to artistic creativity, but the enhancement of critical thinking skills obviously might not improve one's artistic creativity. However, critical thinking is a necessary condition for cognitive creativity. Cognitive creativity is a matter of coming up with solutions to practical or theoretical problems. This includes for example creating a new scientific theory, or launching a new commercial product. (Lau & Chan, n.d. )

This definition of creativity by Lau and Chan (n.d.) provides a framework for the following interview with Marie Manthey about how she uses cognitive creativity in her work as a nursing thought leader and as a consultant. Manthey has practiced nursing for more than 55 years. She worked as a staffnurse and then in many nursing leadership positions. At the University of Minnesota Hospital in 1969, she was instrumental in developing the Primary Nursing model of care delivery during a time when team nursing was the national norm and a requirement for accreditation. In 1979, she founded Creative Nursing Management (later renamed Creative Health Care Management) and became a consultant to hospitals and other health care organizations as well as an internationally known writer and speaker.

Manthey has been inspired by the work of Dr. Berenice Bleedorn, an educator whose career was dedicated to the teaching of critical and creative thinking. Bleedorn received her PhD at age 74 and subsequently wrote five books and numerous articles. She taught in the business and education departments of colleges in Minnesota for more than 17 years. She founded the Institute for Creative Studies at St. Thomas University in St. Paul, MN, and was a colleague of the Creative Education Foundation in Buffalo, NY.

Bleedorn believed that the scientific and technological advances of the late 20th century created "new opportunities and knowledge outside of formal education" (Bleedorn, n.d.). She wrote that "the teaching of Creativity continues to fall well behind standard and traditional courses on the balance sheet of learning" (Bleedorn, n.d., p. 2). She was honored with many professional and community awards. She died in February 2011 at age 99. In this interview, the reader will find the wisdom of Berenice Bleedorn along with Marie Manthey's responses to Lori Steffen's questions.

Lori Steffen: Marie, what does cognitive creativity mean to you?

Marie Manthey: The act of thinking in a new way to solve a problem.

Steffen: Berenice Bleedorn was a major inspiration in your life. How did you meet her?

Manthey: I met her in the 1990s, towards the end of her career. She was in her late 80s then and we both attended an adult learning group at a church in Minneapolis. She was brilliant and had a very engaging mind. We started spending time together and I learned so much from her. She was passionate and really demonstrated all the levels of thinking that she so frequently taught about. She and several of her former students met frequently in a group known as A Meeting of Minds to discuss topics of interest. When I began attending the meetings, I knew why her students wanted to stay in touch with her. I didn't really know of her work at that time-it wasn't until later that I started reading her books and articles. She was a prolific writer; unfortunately, no one seems to have compiled a complete collection of her works. She worked really hard to send the message about a new way of thinking. She took it very personally that creative thinking was not taught in schools at a level she thought it should be. She felt she should have done more.

[W]hat is leftto chance is the teaching of higher order uses of the mind that include mental processes of creative and critical thinking, systemic thinking, global education, visionary, futuristic thinking, philosophical and paradoxical thinking, and more . …

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