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Spoiler Alert: Creative thinking is the ability to consider something in a new way. Looking at something with a fresh perspective is at the heart of creative problem solving. Even today, employers are searching for groups of people generating ideas that are fresh, new, and innovative. What we do know is that the future needs creative solutions and innovative problem solvers and we want our kids to actively engage with the world’s needs when their time comes!

Image of really excited young boy exercising creative thinking and being amazed at what he has created

What Is Creativity?

An act of creativity can be grand and inspiring, such as creating a beautiful painting or designing an innovative new product. But an idea need not be artistic or world-changing to count as creative.

Life requires daily acts of ingenuity and novel workarounds; in this sense, almost everyone possesses some amount of creativity.

Research shows that creative thinking involves making new connections between different regions of the brain, which is accomplished by cultivating divergent thinking skills and deliberately exposing oneself to new experiences and to learning.

Psychology Today

So, while we may not all possess the artistic talent of, say, Henri Matisse, we do all possess creativity – to some degree or another.

Benefits Of Creative Thinking Skills?

If I want to be extremely pragmatic and analytical, I would say that our children need creative thinking skills so that they will be able to compete in the workforce and economy of the future.

So many times I’ve wondered what the world will be like in fifteen to twenty years. Fifteen to twenty years ago, you and I could not have imagined the internet as it is today. Technology is racing forward at speeds that are difficult to comprehend.

Preparing kids for the workforce decades ago was simpler – civil servant, teacher, doctor, policeman, nurse – there were limited categories of jobs to prepare for.

Twenty years ago, we could not have imagined the jobs that exist today.

Social media manager – what is that????

Professional YouTuber – huh?

SEO expert?

And here’s the thing: Not only has a vast new world of opportunity opened up – but there are more and more complex problems that need solving. Problems that humanity has never encountered before. Problems that we have probably never even imagined.

And there are existing problems, like climate change, that have yet to be solved. They will require new ideas and different ways of thinking to solve them.

Our kids will have to use ingenuity and create novel workarounds for these new problems if they are to compete in this new and ever expanding workforce.

If I want to be less pragmatic and much more dramatic, I would say that life is hardly worth living without creativity. There would be no art, music, sports, science, architecture, medical cures or vaccines, or anything new. Everything would stay the same (think ugh…caveman) because there would be no new ideas.

At the very least, we wouldn’t have Amazon Prime, Instapots, or latte.

Creative Ideas Are At The Heart Of A Growth Mindset

Problem solving goes hand in hand with having a growth mindset. Dr. Carol Dweck coined the phrase growth mindset after decades of research on how children and teens become successful.

In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment.

Carol Dweck

A child’s response to failure is tied to their mindset. A child with a growth mindset will continue working on a problem, appreciating and learning from failures along the way. In order to learn from failures and persevere, children need the ability to problem solve – to see that there are other potential solutions available.

In a fixed mindset, people believe their basic qualities, like their intelligence or talent, are simply fixed traits. They spend their time documenting their intelligence or talent instead of developing them. They also believe that talent alone creates success—without effort.

Carol Dweck

A child’s success and achievement extend beyond their innate abilities to their attitudes about learning. When children develop growth mindsets, they see themselves as creative works in progress. On the other hand, those with fixed mindsets see their abilities as static, so they avoid challenge and failure.

To prepare for careers in complex and rapidly changing fields, middle and high school students must learn to think differently and interact with others in new and creative ways. (Growth Mindset Fuels Creativity)

My Favorite Tools For Learning A Growth Mindset

Don’t Schools Foster Creativity?

The world’s problems demand bold, new solutions, so today’s children need to develop open, agile minds. Yet, most schools are not set up to achieve this goal.

So the short answer it, probably not. Your kids are probably not learning creative thinking skills at school

I can not tell you how many times that I’ve listened to this particular TED Talk. This is the single most frequently downloaded Tex Talk. Check it out – it’s worth the listen.

Our children spend many of their waking hours in the classroom. It’s where their aspirations are nurtured and where they get their first sense of what their society expects of them. When run correctly, it’s a place where imagination is cultivated. But that cultivation doesn’t always happen.

Human brains digest the world to produce novelty — but too many classrooms offer little to be digested, instead proffering a diet of regurgitation. That diet threatens to leave our society hungry for future innovators. We’re stuck in an educational system born during the Industrial Revolution, in which the curriculum was regularized, children listened to chalkboard lectures, and school bells replicated the factory bells that signaled a change of shift.

That model doesn’t prepare our students well for an advancing world, one in which jobs are rapidly redefined and the prizes go to those who can generate novel opportunities. The real job of classrooms is to train our students to remake the raw materials of the world and generate new ideas.

Ways To Help Kids Be More Creative

And if Sir Ken Robinson’s talk interests you – you can watch some of his ideas visualized, here:

So How Can We Encourage & Nurture Creativity In Our Kids?

Remember, creativity doesn’t have to be over the top or grandiose. It’s just a different way of looking at something. And, even better, it’s many ways of looking at something.

Here are a few action items that you can add into your daily routine. They are super easy; they don’t take much time; and you may already be doing one or more of these without realizing it!

Creative Activities With Kids

Don’t Forget To Pin This So That You Can Come Back Later!

young people working on and building STEM projects using creative thinking