Q: Why do potatoes make good detectives?
A: Because they keep their eyes peeled.
But what does a Potato have to do with Creative thinking?
We need to first understand what creative thinking is….
Thinking creatively is a state of mind that enables you to approach tasks, problems, and situations with openness to alternatives. REFERENCE
In Year 7, we have a streamed class for our Gifted and Talented students (GATS). This class have sat the selective schools test and are seen as ‘bright students’. They have one less Maths, English and Science lesson and have 3 periods a week with me, where I don’t have a syllabus that I have to follow! It is a dream!
To introduce the course to them, I explain that I will not be giving them marks at all, but will be teaching them to love learning. Here is a letter that I wrote to them to explain this….
Once they can see my vision, I pull out the potatoes.
I read about this once when researching creative thinking tasks, and have done it as my first lesson with the GATS class for the last 3 years. It never bores me… and I love seeing the look of confusion on these kids when I hand them each a potato.
All I tell them is:
Invent something with the potato.
They look at each other, down at the potato, then back at me.
Then collectively their hands all shoot up in the air.
No, I say, I am not answering any questions. No, I am not giving you any boundaries.
Oh, and they do! It never ceases to amaze me where they take this. Some literally use the potato for what it is. Some just use it as a material. Some break all the rules.
Here are some examples from the Year 7′s this year.
As you can see… they are all varied and all take a different approach to the task. (Surprisingly, this year I had 3 potato batteries and 2 potato necklaces!)
The next part of the task is designed to get students to stretch their imagination even further.
After each student spoke about their design and the class wrote a PMI (Plus/Minus/Interesting) analysis for each, I handed them someone else’s potato to RE-INVENT!
I explain that it is 50 years later and technology has changed. You must develop this design considering there may be a change in materials or need over this period of time. Jaws drop and they look at me as if their ideas couldn’t get any better…..
This year I also found a great resource about innovation to inspire them and help them understand how to push beyond what is possible…
I love to watch as their brains tick over new ideas. It was interesting to see how each student then approached the problem. I didn’t scaffold HOW I wanted them to do this, and they all worked in their own way. I do this on purpose so that they don’t fall into a conformed way to think. It requires them to draw their own conclusions. It also means there is not RIGHT way to do it. And really, I can’t know what the outcome is going to look like.
When I walk around the room, I was blown away by the different approaches to innovation.
Check it out!
To apply this technique to a real life problem, I found a great challenge that I have shown the class and asked them to compete in. It is called the:
While we only have a week to complete the FOOD WASTE CHALLENGE, they were very keen to give it a go.
How do you develop your students creative thinking skills?
And if you don’t, here is something to think about…
In the Australian Curriculum, students develop capability in critical and creative thinking as they learn to generate and evaluate knowledge, clarify concepts and ideas, seek possibilities, consider alternatives and solve problems. Critical and creative thinking are integral to activities that require students to think broadly and deeply using skills, behaviours and dispositions such as reason, logic, resourcefulness, imagination and innovation in all learning areas at school and in their lives beyond school.