Monday, May 21, 2007

The Problem With Problem Thinking

This is the second post in a mini series on deliberate creativity.

Part 1: Creativity and Thinking

Most of us would agree that children display creativity at early ages as they are busy discovering the world. While they are learning about the world they are focused first on the why question until about age 5 and then the why not question until about age 10. Creativity abounds throughout this stage as any parent can tell you.

Then they start into a lifelong stage where the ability to understand and solve problems effectively becomes an important skill to master. The educational system supports this viewpoint through it's program of learning information, applying analysis and producing solutions that can measured by exams. In school and in Life people are rewarded and applauded for demonstrating this skill. No question it is an important skill to have. Creative thinking is mainly left to the Art and Design programs but treated more as a gift rather than a skill that can be learned.

Although mainly successful the problem solving process does have limitations. Once we start down the series of steps for solving a problem based on our past judgements, arguments, truths and analysis skills our viewpoint is narrowed to seeing the next step from the step we are on. If we cannot see the next step then we cannot progress to an answer. We are stuck and need a creative solution to move forward.

We are often stuck because we are locked into the way we defined our problem. There are techniques such as brainstorming etc. that we can apply but usually we use them more for trying to find the next step than it is about reexamining our problem definition.

Are we left hanging in the breeze until a flash of creativity comes out of the blue to solve our problem?

We will examine this question in the next post.

12 conversations:

Comedy + said...

Perhaps I'm having that same problem with this question. I'm stuck on the next step from the step I'm on. I have no creativity to apply with my thinking! That's it.

Okay, I get it really. I've done this often where I run out of ideas and after I sleep on it the lightbulb comes on and I can proceed. Well, until the next roadblock appears... I can't wait to see the conversations on this one.

Peter Haslam said...

Should be interesting Sandee

HollyGL said...

When I was in the fourth grade, I was trying to learn to water ski one afternoon. I kept picturing myself on my skis, gliding back and forth over the wake. I was determined to learn before the afternoon was over, and by the time it was, I came pretty darn close to the picture in my mind's eye. I had no reason to believe I couldn't do it - so I just visualized it and did it! I think that was my first experience of deliberate creation.

Peter Haslam said...

Yes hollygl visualisation works well for learning a skill. It can work for solving some problems which will be covered in the next post.

Jennifer said...

Hi Peter... Creativity is one of my all time most passionate passions! :-)

I happen to believe creativity is an essence of the very universe... something along the lines of God/zero point energy field/quantum vacuum/something! ;-)

I enjoy reading your thoughts on this...

Warmest wishes,

Jen

Peter Haslam said...

I detect a little enthusiasm Jennifer. Creativity is a little taste of the forces at work :)

Mimi Lenox said...

Nice post and will be back to read part two of this issue.

Peter Haslam said...

Thanks Mimi look forward to your comments

Ed said...

Lateral thinking helps get you off your current step and into a position where you can might see something different

Peter Haslam said...

Absolutely Ed provided you want to make the effort.

Thinking... said...

I agree totally with your comments about schools focussing more on the analytical thinking more than the creative thinking (in fact even many universities lecture this way). However, you'll be glad to hear that many schools (here in New Zealand, but also in England, Scotland, Australia to name a few) are focussing on thinking skills and the teaching of thinking skills; and have also begun teaching students about their learning styles (e.g. creative, analytical, hands-on 'practical' learner) so that students can build on their weaknesses and also use their strengths.. pretty exciting!

I'm also a firm believer that creativity can indeed be enhanced with practice and with the opportunities...

Peter, I'd be delighted if you'd check out the ideas on my blog at www.jeanedwards.net and add your ideas there too!! Cheers, JEAN

Peter Haslam said...

Thanks for joining the conversation Jean and the additional info. I will be over to take a look