How Do You Teach Creative Thinking?

critical-creating thinking banner 2015by Debie Lohe, Director, Reinert Center

As we welcome you back to campus, we’re reminding you of our theme for the year: Thinking Critically, Thinking Creatively.  As I explained here, back in the fall, we’re spending this year examining what it means to think critically and/or creatively and how we teach students to do it.  Last semester, we focused more on the thinking critically part; this spring, it’s all about thinking creatively.

Whether or not you teach in a field that explicitly works with notions of creativity, you probably want students to think creatively.  Perhaps you want them to explore unexpected connections in a work of literature.  Or, to think “out of the box” in the lab, or in the clinic, or in their essays.  Maybe you invite them to find a metaphor that captures the essence of a computer system they’re designing, or to imagine alternative identities for themselves as they prepare to enter the job market.

For many of us, in almost every field, there’s a craving for our students to find “new” ways of thinking, of expressing themselves, of engaging with the material and concepts and data of our disciplines.  When we ask them to solve real-world, intractable problems, we entreat students to risk being “wrong,” to risk “failure,” in order to arrive at original solutions.  All of this involves thinking creatively – an inclination toward finding novel connections between seemingly disparate ideas, toward using their imaginations to synthesize data or material in novel ways. And for many of us, this kind of creative thinking is also connected to critical thinking.

Our explorations of thinking creatively this semester will happen in various contexts: a faculty panel, a workshop on using non-traditional projects in the classroom, a day-long institute on Ignatian Pedagogy, and our continuing blog series, to name a few.

If you’d like to add your voice to the conversation, let us know.  We still have open slots in our weekly blog series and would love to feature you there; just let us know by completing this form.

Please consider sharing any classroom strategies you use to help students learn to think creatively.

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