So what is creativity, and how can you generate more and better ideas?
There’s pretty general agreement that:
Creativity is a Good Thing
Thinking outside the box is a Good Thing
Thinking laterally is a Good Thing
That’s a good start.
However, when you start asking about how creativity works, or just how you’re supposed to think outside the box, or think laterally, an element of vagueness starts to roll in, like a dense bank of fog off the Atlantic at the start of a horror movie…
You start hearing stories of people and organisations that thought successfully and laterally outside the box, in a way that solved their problems with designing better elevators. You encounter puzzles involving people and items being found in improbable situations, such as stabbed to death with no weapon visible, in the middle of a field of unsullied snow. It’s all very edifying and interesting, but it doesn’t get to grips with what creativity really is, or how to do anything systematic about creating new ideas.
This article gives a brief overview of a systematic framework for making sense of creativity, and for choosing appropriate methods for generating new ideas.
There’s an old joke in the physical sciences, often attributed to Einstein, that a model should be as simple as possible but no simpler. The converse is that a model should be as complex as necessary, but no more complex.
In this article, I’ll discuss what the most useful level of complexity might be for education theories.
Clarity emerging from the fog: Cropped image from wikimedia
Education is about getting new content into student’s heads, via some combination of teaching and learning.
In order to do this in an evidence-based way, one key element is a solid categorisation framework for each of the variables involved. Three key variables are:
Types of content
Types of delivery
Types of learning
There are other important variables, such as physiological constraints, but we’ll focus for the moment on the three listed above.
Existing educational categorisations, such as the Visual/Auditory/Kinaesthetic model, tend to be unsystematic and/or very coarse-grained. In order to handle this area properly, a category system should as a minimum be able to handle systematically the types of content and of delivery and learning shown in the diagram below, and preferably be able to handle more.
This article is a brief overview of how we have been tackling this issue. We will go into more detail in later articles.