Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Fostering Creative Thinking


photo of: Creative Thinking in Children via RainbowsWithinReach

Creative Thinking!
So many brilliant minds continue to assert that the skills needed, as we move forward into the future, are those of creative thinking and group building/participation. 
How do we cultivate such skills? 
Where do we start to foster creative thinking? 
How do we encourage 'thinking-outside the box?'
What can you do in your role with children to start from the very beginning to foster these skills?

I was just recently in Friendswood, Texas making one of my Author/Illustrator school visits. What a delight to see these elementary school responses to taking the 4 numerals that can create the sequence "2 0 1 3" and changing things up. I LUV LUV LUV seeing how the teachers had created this unique challenge for their students.  With a little imagination these numeral-forms can be reoriented to create an endless range of visual responses. Who gets the blue ribbon? 

photo of: Fostering Creativity in Elementary Students via RainbowsWithinReach
"With a little imagination, I can turn 2013 into a bird." 

photo of: Creative Thinking Exercise in Elementary School via RainbowsWithinReach
"With a little imagination I can turn 2013 into a monkey." 

When you look closely at the collage of images I created above, or the bulletin board at the conclusion of the article, you'll see that many of the students turned the numeral '3' into a set of ears. A scarved mouse on a sled brings a smile for certain. Even within a creative exercise there is some 'group-think' as to that '3' lending itself to ear formation.


The swan up above and this next futuristic creature below are unique among the unique responses, for the manner in which they concoct a use for the '3' figure. The swan has wings. The Robot? Wheels! The '3' lends itself to becoming ears, wings, wheels and on it goes. Starting from the 'wheel's perspective' its a construction of an entirely different outcome yielding yet another novel response. 


I'm always attempting to learn new things as an old-dog.
I'm attempting to grasp the power of Google Plus and harness it for good.
Rochelle Doorley of TinkerLab shared this link from her Google+ profile earlier this week. 
It is a passionate letter written by an elementary Art teacher and published by the Salt Lake Tribune entitled,
"The Arts Leave No Child Behind."
"The arts teach problem-solving and cooperation, persistence, courage, ingenuity, compromise. They are a balm for our troubled world. They encourage the beautiful and magnificent in each of us and in our education system. They are intrinsically important." -- Lori Wrankle
photo of: Bulletin Board of Creative Thinking Responses in Elementary School via RainbowsWithinReach
Bulletin Board of Creative Thinking Responses in Elementary School 


The reality is that we live in complex times. Troubling times. In the current economic reality, it is all-too-often the ARTS that are cut first. Classroom teachers are continually being asked to do 'more' with 'less.' 
Fewer resources at their disposal. 
More challenging classroom demographics.
Continual demands for mandated testing. 
The list goes on.   


I participate and help moderate the Kinderland Google Community and in these first few weeks of the group's existence I have read more than once of further school board slashes into the Arts, with the expectation that the classroom teacher will pick up these critical areas. Teachers throw up their hands and ask "What can I do?" 

It is heartening to see exercises such as the one captured above, directed by the classroom teacher. This is fantastic to support and nurture divergent thinking, rewarding individual responses in the process. This is a project that could certainly be replicated by others, even those who do not perceive their own strength to be in the Arts. While an exercise such as this is wonderful, I am certainly not suggesting that it is the answer. 

In fact those of us who are passionate about the Arts must speak up, lobby, write letters to our newsletters, attend school board meetings and take all of the other means at our disposal to speak to this issue. Continually cutting the arts is a desperate act in desperate times. I get that the lights must be kept on in the buildings. I also believe that the way to light up that building is to prioritize having Arts at the heart of it all. Not a simple thing to do in this economy. Speaking up and speaking out is the only way for the ARTS voice to be heard.

Following a quick search on the internet I found several articles on this topic for your further exploration. 
Can Teachers Encourage Creative Thinking?

photo of: Using Our Imagination What can We Make with 10 Black Dots? RainbowsWithinReach


*Flash-from-the-future: Months from now I have an article featuring this type of idea, with VERY young children. 

You owe it to yourself to pop over and see what preschool children came up with in response to this prompt. 

-- Debbie -- 

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