Creative Thinking

"The principle goal of education is to create men and women who are capable of doing new things, not simply repeating what other generations have done." Jean Piaget

Creativity can be thought of as approaching a problem in a new unique way. When an inventor invents something new, they look at an existing problem and think of a solution to the problem that doesn't currently exist. One way to describe this is "meeting problems with fresh eyes." 

Divergent thinking is something related to creativity. Ken Robinson describes divergent thinking "as an essential capacity for creativity." Divergent thinking is the ability to see lots of possible answers to a question and lots of possible ways of interpreting a question. One classic test of this is the question 'how many uses can you think of for a paperclip?'

Hinebaugh writes that "In education the importance of developing reason, logic, and problem solving skills is accepted without question. However, developing skills whereby students explore multiple solutions to problems, not just the most obvious solution, and then effectively communicate these alternative solutions to others is a component of the education process that is often overlooked."

Example: Pickles to Penguins

How do you play?

  • Each player is dealt 25 double sided cards.

  • Players place 5 of their cards out in front of them in a row and the remaining 20 are left in a pile beside each player. (All of the remaining cards are placed in a draw pile).

  • When everyone is ready, the top two cards from the draw pile are turned over by the dealer and placed side-by-side in the center of the table.

  • The dealer starts the game by saying ‘Go’ and all players frantically place cards from their own player’s deck on top of either of the two cards in the center. (All of the cards are double sided so players can flip their cards over as much as they like to use either side of the card.)

  • To place their card in the center, players must say out loud the connection between their card and either of the top cards on the center piles.

  • As players put cards down, they replenish the 5 cards out in front of them with cards from their own pile (so that they always have 5 cards in front of them).

  • The winner is the person who gets rid off all of their cards first. 

How does it help to improve creative thinking skills?

  • In the game, the same connection cannot be used twice in a row. For example: if a player puts a kitten picture on a dog picture and says, “The dog and kitten are both animals” another player cannot then play a picture of a lion saying, “A lion and a kitten are both animals”. The game therefore requires players to use original thought to make connections that haven't previously been made.

  • The game is a high-speed game - each player wants to be the first person to put down all of their cards. Is is also unpredictable, players don't know which cards they will be dealt or which cards will be in the middle at any particular moment (that they have to link their cards with). Skilfull players will make unexpected combinations by being able to identify connections between things which are seemingly unrelated. They will have flexible thought and the ability to think on the spot. 

  • The wide variety of playing cards act as a stimulus to help to generate new ideas.

  • Whilst there are set rules of what is and isn't allowed, in contrast to a logic game there is no fixed concept of right or wrong. This allows children the freedom to express themselves in a non threatening environment (without the fear that they might 'answer incorrectly').

Other examples of games which help to develop creative thinking are:

  • Scattergories

  • Once Upon a Time

  • Apples to Apples

  • Taboo (or Articulate)

  • Dixit