Ideation is asking yourself, “What can I create?” It’s the process of brainstorming to generate as many ideas as possible. Ideation makes us pay special attention to details that we may not necessarily pay attention to, but they affect the output: a powerful topic title, a diverse group of people, 45-60 minutes to do it, being visual when we record ideas, starting with a fun warm-up,
There is a joy in creating that many people miss because their education was one of memorization and regurgitation of what they’ve memorized. If we did any sort of “art”, it was so bound full of rules that all the life was sucked out of the experience.
It’s exciting to see education move to produce creators now, in an environment where self-expression is valued, even if it upsets the traditional “rules”.
When I hear the word, “Ideation“, I think of the word Creativity.
To that end, I wanted to share with all of you a really fantastic talk about Creativity. It is Tina Seelig speaking on “The 6 Characteristics of Truly Creative People”.
I really like it because Tina Seelig actually offers some real practical advice on how to increase creativity and it’s advice backed by her research in Stanford. She calls it her “Innovation Engine” (see image at the top of my post).
There are so many talks on Creativity that are just airy-fairy inspirational talks. (I honestly don’t know why people rave about Ken Robinson’s Tedtalk on how schools are killing creativity. I understand his points, but I want to hear some solutions and he’s short on practical ideas on how to fix the problems.) Tina Seelig actually has some concrete things to act upon to increase creativity and she calls it the “Innovation Engine”.
Toolbox for the Imagination
One of Tina Seelig’s points that I appreciate the most is when she says that knowledge is the toolbox for the imagination (see 6:54 of the video). “Yes!” I said to myself when I read that. “Finally, someone cares about knowledge!” Ideation and creativity is not about just about being wild with your ideas, and content is an obstacle to avoid. The truth is, if you don’t have a body of knowledge, your toolbox will be lacking resources to build creativity.
Rituals for Ideation
They say that we need more down-time and unfocussed time in our lives in order to be creative. Being tied to our devices negates creativity because we’re always consuming or doing when we’re on our devices. Research says that we need to allow our minds to wander to its periphery in order to be creative.
So, if you haven’t done so, create a regular ritual in your life to allow your mind to wander. In my life, I take baths. I’ve never liked the chilling effect of stepping in a shower so I’ve taken baths for as long as I can remember. During those years when I was home with 4 young children, it was my only respite when I didn’t feel guilty that I wasn’t available to them. (Hey! Everyone needs to wash each day!)
In our hectic lives, it’s difficult to find time to watch videos and there is so much good stuff to watch! Sometimes, I will put on a Tedtalk or similar during my bath. After I watch it, I contemplate it while soaking in bubbles.
So, I challenge you to take a leisurely bath this week and to watch and contemplate Tina Seelig’s talk on “The 6 Characteristics of Truly Creative People”. It’s truly worth the time!
Our assignment this week was to discuss
How can ideation and synthesis be used in your classroom in relationship to your curriculum?
Well, I joined this course thinking that we were going to look at the Design Cycle and the application I had in mind was for creating in Maker Education <—-my magazine article in an international parent magazine!
So, my application for Ideation is the stage where children come up with ideas of projects they want to try in their “Passion Project” time or their “Genius Hour”.
Paradoxically, many children are frozen with fear or indecision when they have to come up with their own project idea. They’re still stuck in the old model where they are used to being told what to do and what the parameters of success will be.
Interestingly enough, a number of parents commented on my Maker Education mag article by saying that this is called “Design & Technology” in their schools. Uh, well no. I thought it would be obvious the differences when they read the article. My article said that the Maker Education movement was about giving children open-ended time to try any project they wanted to. This isn’t D&T classes with its unit plans, rubrics, and teacher-directed activities etc. (It shows me that parents know very little about what happens in the D&T classes.)
So, somehow we need to make a bridge for students and parents to cross from teacher-directed activities (Design & Technology) to open-ended activities (Maker Education). The part that I suspect they will get stuck at is the Ideation stage.
If students are able to Ideate regularly, they’ll not run out of ideas for themselves or run out of ideas to jump-start their classmates who are plagued with fear or inertia. (It’s a scary and sobering thought that there are children who don’t want open-ended time at school as they’re not motivated or inspired by the opportunity to be autonomous!)
A star and a wish…
So, what I liked (a star) about Ideation is where teachers pay careful attention to developing a generative topic title. This is a fancy of saying that we need topic titles that are catchy and that also allow us to be expansive and deep in our research. (In PYP, we would call this creating a Provocative Central Idea.)
What I didn’t really get (a wish) was the real difference between Ideation and what we used to call Brainstorming. Is there something really different because the fact there is a new term implies there is a difference. I don’t see it and then I feel frustrated that I’ve missed something. I don’t appreciate new jargon for the sake of new jargon when I don’t see anything new (Hello IB!). I find it confusing and counter-productive.
I’m looking forward to the next step of Design Thinking and this will be the practical application of our creativity while we prototype.
— Graham Brown-Martin (@GrahamBM) November 2, 2015
Do you have any rituals to generate ideas in your life? If so, please share!