Creative acts for curious people

Must read recommendation from Professor Bill Lucas: A collection of ideas from some of the world's most renowned creative thinkers.

This is an extraordinary book from one of the world’s best-known Design School (Stanford’s published in 2021. It contains an array of ideas for developing creativity which, although written for a general audience work really well for teachers both as individuals and for their students. The collection was put together Sarah Greenberg, executive director of the and draws on ideas from well-known creative thinkers.

The power of design thinking

A strong feature of this book is its advocacy on a particular kind of design thinking – ‘we fundamentally believe that everyone is creative and everyone can use design to improve the world around them.’ This empowering philosophy gives out a clear message to all students that, through their creative thinking, they can potentially contribute to solving all kinds of problems, from small and local to large and global.

The book is divided up into a series of assignments or activities, some lasting twenty minutes, some stretching over several weeks. These cover topics such as seeing things in a new way, working well with others, making sense of your insights, coming up with ideas, building things, having fun, getting out and discovering, and many more.

Takeaway idea: Bisociation.

When inviting pupils to come up with ideas, many teachers ask their pupils to use brainstorming, the well-known method of ideation, generating lots of thoughts without anyone being allowed to challenge whatever is suggested. But we all know how such sessions can easily end up producing high-numbers of low-quality ideas and can easily be dominated by more extroverted pupils.

Bisocation is a word coined by Arthur Koestler, author of The Act of Creation, the influential study of the processes of discovery, invention, imagination and creativity. Bisociation encourages, synthesis, the connecting of two previously unrelated ideas.

So, at a moment in any class where pupils have come up with lots of ideas but the energy and concepts need a boost, you take a moment to get groups or individuals to choose their 8-10 best ideas and write them down on cards. Then shuffle the cards and turn them upside down. Ask individuals to pick two random cards, set a timer for ninety seconds and see what new ideas emerge. Encourage pupils to keep going until they have exhausted all possible pairs and see where the bisociation technique has taken them.

This core idea could be adapted so that, rather than randomly choosing cards a member of sa group could choose which idea to pair with another. Techniques like this teach the skill of cross-pollination, rapid thinking and the, as the saying has it, thinking outside the box.

Find out more about Creative acts for curious people.

Sarah Stein Greenberg is the director of the, an interdisciplinary institute at Stanford University that nurtures innovators and spreads design thinking.


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