Teaching Kids to be More Creative and Innovative Thinkers

Yesterday, the Wall Street Journal ran an interesting piece titled, “How to be Creative.” The author, Jonah Lehrer, offered several insights about creative thinking. He also indirectly spoke to the ways we could better teach our kids to be more innovative thinkers.

Below, I’ve listed a few of the author’s points that stood out to me.

  • Creativity is not magic, it originates from a set of skills that can be taught and learned.
  • Creativity isn’t a single thinking skill. Rather, it is the result of a mind possessed of many insight-generating skills and interconnected knowledge.
  • Our state of mind when approaching a problem is important. Humor, relaxation, and our environment all impact creative problem solving.
  • A mind filled with diverse experiences, knowledge, and insights is a mind more likely to see the connections needed to solve a problem. Steve Jobs understood this when he said, “creativity is just connecting things.”
  • Studies indicate that the most innovative thinkers are often those who have a diverse network of friends. They are likely to interact with colleagues in totally unrelated fields.
  • Being able to see a problem from a fresh perspective—to see the problem with the eyes of a “beginner”—is important. Without those fresh eyes, we tend to attack problems in the same ways that have failed in the past.
  • Creativity is play. The most creative thinkers strive for the “state of the beginner.” They tap into the joy of the creative challenge that a novice might experience when faced with a novel task.

Take a moment to read the article for yourself. As you do, consider how the author’s ideas could be applied to the way we teach our kids at school and at home. The insights provided in this article point to some of the wonderful things we could be doing if we want to make creativity and innovation a priority with our kids and ourselves.