Students – Creative Ideas Begin Outside the Lines, Not the Box
Students, do you want to kick creativity into high gear? Think "in the round" need to get those creative ideas flowing? Try this exercise to stimulate creative juices.
One of the main problems that keeps creative ideas from flowing from a students mind onto paper may be the paper itself.
Yes, that's right. Look at the paper on which you're taking notes. Is it lined? Ok, this also applies to high tech people who transcribed directly on to a computer of some sort. Here is a huge tip to jump start your mind to start thinking more creatively.
Get rid of the lined paper. Do not use it when you're trying to be creative, generate ideas, brainstorm, or break out of writer's block.
Here's why. Students, or anyone's, minds do not think linearly. We do not logically follow one idea with another, leading to another, etc. Thoughts jump around; one idea seemingly unexpected with the next.
Think of lined paper as a mental straight jacket, imposing order when that step is not necessary until your creative ideas are collected and start to take shape. The early stages of creative brainstorming are significantly restricted with traditional, lined notebook paper. The thoughts are not coming to your conscious that way, so do not be concerned with "listing" them in that manner.
Students, do you really want to work on developing creative ideas? Then try the following:
Use unwritten paper, put your main question for the moment in the center and be careful of how you word it.
Next, circle the question or main concept that is in the center of your page. As ideas start to percolate, jot them down quickly. Capture keywords only, no need to write in complete sentences. Circle each creative idea as you finish, and draw a line between that circular idea and the circle main focus in the center of your paper.
When the next idea comes up, write, circle, and connect it to the center circle. If the creative idea arises from one of your thoughts that's already connected to the main idea, just "branch" the idea outward from the previous thought, and draw a line between these two. What you're doing is just letting your brain "radiate" ideas outwards, related related concepts as you brainstorm.
This process is largely related to Mind Mapping, and has been called "clustering" since like ideas emerge clustered together.
Suggest this to your friends when you are in a brainstorming session for students. Not only will the group find themselves opening up to great, new, creative ideas students normally would miss, when the do the same activity using lined paper, you'll also find that all the students ideas end up more organized than if you'd written them down in the usual way!
Have fun with this process. Practice it often, and you'll be great at brainstorming creative ideas in no time!