Fluency measures the number of ideas a person can generate. The more ideas (or solutions) generated or considered, the more likely there will be success in solving a problem and thinking creatively. Think of the employees at Google. When they are sitting around a table brainstorming new product ideas, do you think they come up with just 1-2 new ideas or a whole list of crazy, off-the-wall, possibly useful ideas? I'm guessing you agree with what I've read about Google, many, many, many ideas are generated on Google's campus.
Educators (and parents), we want “fluent” students and children – Kids who can come up with not just one idea, but many ideas or solutions!
In order to nurture fluency, adults can do this:
- Learn the “tenets” of brainstorming, honor them, then teach the tenets to kids. The tenets are:
- Defer judgment: Go with whatever ideas come to mind! Censor ideas later.
- Strive for quantity: The more ideas generated the better. Plus, it increases the likelihood that a great idea or solution will be found.
- Seek wild and unusual ideas: It is easier to pull back a wild idea than invigorate a weak one. Let your mind be free!
- Build on other ideas: Let one idea snowball into another idea.
- Take on another perspective when brainstorming. For example, what ideas would a grandparent produce? A tween? A running shoe?
- A supportive, nurturing environment is essential to creative thinking and fluency. Refrain from judgment and negativity when generating ideas or solutions (or encouraging others to do so).
- Not all the needs of a child can be met at home or in school. Studies have shown the positive impact of mentoring on creative achievement. Consider finding a trusted and appropriate mentor (even a student mentor) for a student or child.
- Research shows most people require incubation - time to think - and that best ideas are generated lastly not firstly. Thus, give yourself (and your students or children) time to “warm up” when brainstorming.
If you missed the first part of the Be Creative Series, check out the latest and greatest creativity research here.
My creative best,
- Chavez-Eakle, R. (2006). Creativity graduate course. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University.
- Miller, B., Vehar, J. and Firestein, R (1999). Creativity Unbound: An Introduction to Creative Problem Solving. Williamsville, NY: Innovation Systems Group.
- Torrance, P. and Safter, T (2009). Making the Creative Leap Beyond. Amherst, MA: Creative Education Foundation Press