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WOC 451 Thinking Creatively

Teacher Tips and Answers


WOC 451

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Student Playing Soccer

Thinking Creatively

The great soccer star Lionel Messi has unmatched speed, skill, and creativity. Creativity? You bet! Here’s what one commentator said: “It’s Messi’s combination of mind and body, creativity and agility, that makes him the world’s most unstoppable force on the pitch.”

Creativity isn’t just for artists, musicians, and influencers. It’s for athletes, builders, and truck drivers, too. Creativity helps you tackle problems and come up with solutions that no one else can imagine.

Best of all, creativity can be learned. It’s not an innate gift, but rather a set of mental habits that cause you to think differently, seek novelty, and produce ideas. You can learn those skills in this chapter.

What’s Ahead

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Becoming a Creative Thinker

To think creatively, you need to think in all directions. And, to become a truly creative person, you need to apply your creative-thinking skills to everything you do. The ideas on this page will help you get started.

Find new things to think about. Read good books, watch thought-provoking movies, listen to different kinds of music, and visit inspiring places. If you do, you will have many new things to think about.

Spend time with interesting people. Pick out people you think are creative or interesting. Observe them, listen to them, and ask them questions.

Look at something in a new way. Stand on your head and take a look at a room from a new vantage point. Or, close your eyes and “see” the room with your hands.

See through someone else’s eyes Imagine seeing the world from someone else’s perspective. How would someone from another country view what you are seeing or doing? How would that perspective compare or contrast to your own?

Find a new way to do something. Maybe you primarily use your right hand to play sports. Try doing the same move or activity with your left hand instead. Or, instead of doing a written report, ask your teacher if you can create a video report.

Keep a journal. A journal is the perfect place to jot down all of the creative thoughts and ideas that come to you each day.

Challenge your thinking. Remind yourself that there are many possibilities out there. Don’t settle for the first thing that pops in your head. Keep thinking and experimenting!

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Using Creative Thinking

Creative thinking can help you learn and do your best work. In Writing with Power, Peter Elbow suggests the following ways to use creative thinking in all of your classes.

Creative Examples
Creative Examples

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Asking Creative Questions

One of the best strategies for improving your creative thinking is asking questions. Here are some of the best types of questions you can ask to bring out your creative side.

Question Marks

What . . . ?

  • What is this situation like and how?
  • What’s another way of doing that?
  • What would simplify this?

What if . . . ?

  • What if a certain person had never been born? (Abraham Lincoln? Susan B. Anthony? Albert Einstein?)
  • What if our school operated like a restaurant?

What else . . . ?

  • What else could I change or improve?
  • What else could I use a pencil for, instead of just writing?

How . . . ?

  • How can this idea be applied in a new way?
  • How are these two ideas related?
  • How can I make this more impressive?

How would . . . ?

  • How would I build a house if I had no wood or nails to use?
  • How would I get directions in a foreign city if I couldn’t speak the native language?

If . . . ?

  • If I could trade places with someone else for a day, who would it be and why?
  • If I changed the design, what would result?
  • If I could change one thing about my daily routine, what would it be?

Why . . . ?

  • Why do some architecture styles look better than others?
  • Why does the United States have more tornadoes than any other country?

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Checking Your Creative Thinking

How often do you use creative thinking? Use the checklist below to assess your creative-thinking skills. Answer each statement with always, sometimes, or never. Consider why you do (or do not) use these creative thinking skills regularly.

Creative-Thinking Checklist

Creative-Thinking Checklist

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