The following piece was contributed by guest contributor, Leslie Owen Wilson, PhD. At Valley Fiber Life, we lovingly refer to her as "Dr. Creativity," but that makes light of her research and teaching career, which has included graduate courses in a number of areas, such as brain-based education, philosophical foundations of education, creativity; newer views of learning; curriculum; reflective teaching; and the models of teaching and learning, amongst others. Enjoy!
Thinking patterns that help create new ideas
1. Explore new ideas and learn to become flexible in your thinking.
2. Practice visualization -- learn how to create concept maps, illustrative schema, and sketch ideas out.
3. Explore other fields looking for new theories and ideas that can be synthesized and adapted.
4. Keep a record of your explorations. Keep an "Idea Journal"
5. Learn to think in possibilities -- diverge, be expansive in your thinking. Generate lots of ideas, then refine them.
6. Practice trying to look at things holistically and try to get the big picture.
7. Learn to focus in on parts of a problem, then come back out to the big picture.
8. Don't get in a rut. Force yourself to try new things.
9. Experiment with new strategies and play with ideas imaginatively.
10. Think of yourself as an "idea artist" or an "idea vendor."
11. Combine ideas. Let ideas and thoughts ferment and percolate, "sleep on it", and then revisit the the issue or problem.
12. Take time to imagine new ideas and possibilities. Practice daydreaming and visionizing.
13. Look for ideas and inspiration in ordinary places. Scan books, magazines, articles, advertisements & photos for new ideas.
14. Ask family members, friends, co-workers and even strangers for a fresh perspectives.
Brainstorm and free associate frequently.
15. Free yourself from "functional fixity" or restrictively thinking of something only in one way. Creative thinking is often blocked by not being able to think about items in new contexts or new ways.
16. Divest yourself of "cultural or gender mindsets" that may limit your thinking.
17. Examine your thinking for barriers like "toxic nostalgia" -- letting grandiose or overly romanticized visions of the past block new ideas.
Partly modified and embellished from the original Internet source: The AIM Lab http://w3.ag.uiuc.edu/AIM/Discovery/Mind/cthinking.html - URL no longer active
On creating personalized solutions:
In using the ideas listed above, it might be a good idea to go through the list and prioritize which ones appeal to you most. Also note which ones you have used with any regularity and which ones have worked best for you. You may wish to use some sort of coding for this sifting and sorting process. At the same time notice strategies you have not used before. In the mode of experimentation untried ideas may be a good place to start the next time you are confronted with a creative challenge. In the past what worked best may have been situational -- depended on the circumstances and the hows and whys of the problem or challenge.
Now think about your history of tackling creative challenges or solving problems and try to visualize new solutions. What would have happened if I did this or that? . . . Would some of the suggestions have worked better than others? Why or why not?
Suggestion #4 above talks about keeping "an idea" journal. May I suggest that this is a good strategy. A useful addition might be to also keep a "solution journal' which will give you future ideas about what strategies work and which don't. This way you can keep track of patterns and connections that might emerge and come up with ideas for solving future problems and creative challenges. Good luck!
Thank you, Dr. Creativity! Read more of Dr. Wilson's articles on her Creativity Index.
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