Module 5 | Fostering Creativity & Innovative Ideas

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Creativity is about finding new and unusual solutions, viewpoints, ideas and combinations. Creativity springs from imagination, openness, playfulness and curiosity, qualities that are natural to children. These qualities are powerful tools to foster creativity and innovativ ideas especially  if approached through play and discovery. An added benefit of using play is that  it is easier to get children engaged and motivated.

Creativity is needed for finding ideas and solving problems. Innovative ideas are where the fruits of creativity: novel, and  ideas are adapted and adopted in a practical and positive way.  There are many techniques employed for Idea generation and creative methods, one such is  brainstorming.. These processes can be turned into more playful activities by using different elements, for instance, such as sticky notes, different colours, different items, silly drawings, and anything funny. Grouping similar ideas is more interesting when, for instance, colourful paper is used. Also idea selection can be kept playful and motivating using narration, asking children to imagine what different ideas could mean in practice, asking them to create scenarios, and again, using playful methods, such as dot voting (voting with colourful stickers). Evaluating the innovativeness of the idea, not just what is nice, can be assisted with such questions as: Is it something new? Is it unique? What does it change compared to the old? Which problem does it solve? Can you use it? Can someone else use it? How do people react? Does it make people enthusiastic?

Idea generation and innovation use creativity. Whether creativity is done for your own joy or for an external purpose, it goes through a creative process. Wallas has identified 5 creative phases: preparation, incubation, insight, evaluation and elaboration. Each of these steps progressin an organic and dynamic way..

  1. Preparation: At the beginning, the problem  or issue    may not beclear.. Therefore as a first step one collects and absorbs as much information on the topic and related issues as possible. This helps to form a better picture of the challenge and what influences it.
  2. Incubation: Once the first phase has been completed the information collected will be digested and processed perhaps by focussing attention on something else such as: going for a walk, cleaning the house or talking about it with someone.
  3. Insight:  At this next stage, having identified the core problem or issue, the aim is to generate a broad a range of ideas and possible solutions. A key element is that the approach is open and objective with nothing considered either right or wrong.
  4. Evaluation:  In this phase it is decision time to evaluate the idea/s and select the best one to  act upon.
  5. Elaboration: Once a decision has been taken and the best idea or solution selected, it is time put it into action. . At this final stage the main requirements are application, commitment and most especially resilience  in the face of failures before the work finally pays off.

The most important skills to teach to a child through this process are perseverance, motivation, tolerance of insecurity and celebrating small victories. The main aim is to encourage experimentation and valuing  failed experiments as much as successful ones. It is worth remembering that it took hundreds of trials for  Thomas Alva Edison to invent thelightbulb . The key lesson learned is that if something does not work, it is not failure,  rather it helps eliminate a false option. The key insight therefore is the importance of the process should be highlighted, not solely the final product, as it, the experience, deepens understanding. As a mentor of learners such knowledge and insight can be supported through prompts asking learners about their work; how they came up with the idea, what inspired them and if they enjoyed working on it? A key element of this approach is to support learner independent thinking let children express their opinion at different stages of their projects and discuss what they are planning to do next and why?As a role model or mentor it is important to share one’s  own reflections as they  can act as an example which makes learners more open to reflect on their own thinking. It is also good to remember that children of different ages act differently based on their cognitive development level, gained information and skills, but also for what motivates them.