Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Personal Creativity Characteristics: Generating Ideas

Source: Creative Learning Today Newsletter Issue Volume 11, Number 1:

The article in this issue: Personal Creativity Characteristics (Part 1 of 4 By Don Treffinger, Grover Young, Ed Selby, and Cindy Shepardson) has offered a deepened perspective of what accounts the quality outputs from the "generating ideas" process.

One of the most frequently strategy used in classroom is "brainstorming". How do we 'facilitate' the brainstorming process? or we assume that anyone can brainstorm and generate ideas naturally? Often, we assume that our students "will know" how to generate ideas (that align to a given topic), and we would  encourage them to put down any ideas that cross their mind, and reminding them no judgement to be passed during the process (so as to encourage a 'conducive and safe' environment for every participant).

The article sheds light on the characteristics on the processes that go on in the individual's heads, which determine the quality of the "generating ideas" exercise; which subsequently leads us to identifying and streamlining the 'produce' from the exercise:

(1) Fluency
(2) Flexibility
(3) Originality
(4) Elaboration
(5) Metaphorical Thinking

which, if we look at them, in a while, it's 'progressive' (in terms of the demand of one's ability to come up with great ideas!)

(1) Fluency is, most of the time, the primary focus in class activity - the more the merrier so that we have more choices; moreover, it gives us the premise to organise the ideas to surface brought categories (zooming out from specifics).

(2) Flexibility has to do with one's ability to see multiple perspectives - not only from the one who generates ideas, it's also a characteristics (or more like the mindset) that the group members should possess so that good ideas are not discriminated when 'processing' the 'raw ideas' generated.

(3) Originality, I think, comes with the individual's capacity. It has a lot to do with one's background and prior knowledge/ exposure! So, it's the make-up of the members in the group that has an 'impact' on how 'original' the ideas (in the eyes of the other group members).

(4) Elaboration takes place when one builds ideas on top of another's - which could agree or disagree with what was originally proposed. Often we think elaboration has to be 'aligned' to original idea (that started off the discussion). However, diversity of views helps to give depth to the idea too - of course, one should not come with the mindset to dispute and discard. The attitude is important here.

(5) Metaphorical thinking is the 'highest level' amongst the five (I think), which requires the above so as to be able to finally connecting things together to come up with new possibilities.

It takes time for us to progress from one stage to another (though I'm not sure if the five are intended to be 'staged' in the way it's presented in the article). And it would definitely be beneficial to train our students, from young along these 5 'stages'. It would certainly be helpful if we are able to point out to them, when "generating ideas" the 'stage' that they are expected to perform (over time).

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