Why Creative Problem Solving Matters
Young people are brilliant.
Imaginative, creative, inventive and industrious, the students of today are beyond inspiring with their need to make the world a better place. Despite surmounting odds, there are teenagers today who continue to pursue solutions for complex problems outside of their normal school day. Take Raymond Wang who recently conducted research on how germs spread throughout an airplane. Raymond found a way to stop this process from happening, and save the population, and medical companies billions of dollars, time and energy. Then there is Jack Andraka, who before reaching the young age of 16, developed a non-invasive and cost effective test for detecting early pancreatic cancer.
Teen inventors are not as novel as some may believe. By age 15, Louis Braille invented what we know as modern Braille; hip hop music was born from the minds of a 17 year old and a 12 year old; and, Superman, himself, was invented by two teenage boys daydreaming and creating original stories. In a world where standardization seems to take precedence over originality, how can the education system foster creative problem solving in every student?
Building creative confidence in learners starts by allowing, and even, encouraging, failure. Everyone is creative. Creativity ultimately boils down to making connections in the brain. And, everyone can improve their creative thinking ability. How? The brain is a pattern maker. It creates patterns, recognizes them, and discards what is deemed unnecessary.
Just check out the image up there. Can you read it? It’s because your brain only needs to see the first and last letter in order to automatically hit that pattern maker function created by word recognition. So, if the brain is a pattern marker, and creativity is about making connections in the brain, then does creativity occur by default or design?
Instruction spaces today have an opportunity to be active environments that center around respectful and rigorous brainstorming. It is up to educators to create a learning culture that empowers constructive criticism and creative freedom. Ultimately, in order to support these students, schools should take lessons from Pixar in creating a plussing culture within their districts. Students are naturally curious and insatiably inquisitive. These are two traits that should be championed among young learners, because those traits will push society forward into a new era of invention and innovation.