Teaching Creativity

Just about a year ago I was finishing up a great, semester-long class which focused on creativity and problem solving. The professor had selected Michael Michalko’s Thinkertoys as the text for the course. This book is all about ways to find creative solutions. Personally, I found it a wonderful text because of its focus on creating visual contexts for your thinking. By the end of the semester I had a whole journal full of little diagrams that I had used to make this and that decision… I still use it frequently. One of the things that the book helped me sort through has to do with finding more creative outlets given the highly technical and often linear nature of my job. I’m still a work in progress, but I keep finding things to improve upon.

My own search for creativity brought up a question though… where had my creativity gone? Why did I need to find it again? I think my educational and work experiences had ‘normalized’ it out of me. My quest for grades and advancement had led me down a road that limited my thinking to a ‘right’ way. I have given thought in the past to the question of how one can teach and encourage creativity and how my own experiences could have been better. Then, just this past week, I literally stumbled upon an article asking exactly that question. While I don’t think the article answered the question very well, a couple of clicks later it had led me to a post by Michael Michalko titled Twelve Things You Were Not Taught in School about Creative Thinking.  I thought it was a great list and encourage reading his notes that go along with each item. The basics are:

1.    You are creative
2.    Creative thinking is work
3.    You must go through the motions of being creative
4.    Your brain is not a computer
5.    There is no one right answer
6.    Never stop with your first good idea
7.    Expect the experts to be negative
8.    Trust your instincts
9.    There is no such thing as failure
10.    You do not see things as they are; you see them as you are
11.    Always approach a problem on its own terms
12.    Learn to think unconventionally
13.    Bonus: Creativity is paradoxical

So my next question is: How do we teach such that these things are the takeaway from the lesson?