Look After Your Mind – Apr ’23

Developing Creativity 1

Much of my work in schools over the years has been in the field of developing children’s thinking skills. Even now, much of the focus of the curriculum requires children to remember facts and reiterate them at exam time. Such recollection of information is a low-level skill. Creative thinking on the other hand is proactive, diverse, enjoyable and surprisingly easy to practise.

Many sources agree that thinking creatively brings benefits both mentally and emotionally, and not just for children. I learned recently that “being creative can increase positive emotions, reduce depressive symptoms and anxiety, and improve the function of our immune systems” (https://diversushealth.org/the-mental-health-benefits-of-creativity/). Sometimes children ask if you need to be clever to think creatively: I tell them not necessarily, but you do need to be nosy – and children appreciate that because many of them already are! Two important ways of being nosy are by noticing things and asking questions. This develops two key creative thinking skills; making connections and looking at things in many different ways.

Here is a simple activity you can try out for yourself and, of course, with children you know.

Linking Game. Collect a number of ordinary objects. These can be pictures or the physical items themselves. Pick two at random and link them in some way. If working with a child, ask her to put the link into a sentence. So, ‘The pen and the tablet are linked because you can use both to record ideas’. Now pick a third item and create a new link. Keep adding items until linking them becomes a struggle. Extend the game by replacing a few items each time you run the activity, which also works using a random selection of words: make links between the words themselves rather than any objects they name. So two words might have the same number of syllables, or both may contain two ‘e’‘s, and so on.

Steve Bowkett