Today, when (and if) the sun comes out, take a child outside and measure the shadow of something, and say, ???Today, June 21st, is the longest day of the year. Let???s see how long the shadow is. Let???s pick something and mark the end of the shadow so that we can watch the shadow get longer as the summer goes on.???
All sorts of questions could come up depending upon the age of the child and the interests of the participants, for example:
What could we use to measure?
Could we use one of Daddy???s shoes? My shoe, Baby???s foot,
How could we use a tape measure?
What is the relationship of Daddy???s shoes to my shoes?
What is the ratio?
Do we need to pick a fixed time????
???and so on and so on.
It is common for parents to ritualize story time every day. This is a good thing. To read to your children before he or she goes to bed is the most important thing parents can do to ensure that their children will grow up to be readers. It not only models something that you value, it builds your relationship, and gives you a time to be with your child in loving, fun, calm, quiet, spiritually enriching ways. Stories are the staff of mental life and relationships.
What if we had a curiosity ritual? This week we play around with sinking and floating; next week we notice the flight of balloons, or the creation of bubbles. What if parents were ritualistic about doing a cooking project with their kids every weekend?
Why do Americans do so badly in mathematics? Because mathematics is a foreign language in America. The vast majority of children grow up in a number-poor environment. We???ve forgotten that the language of mathematics is founded in curiosity. We too often think of mathematics as rules rather than as questions. This is like thinking of stories as grammar. Being curious together can be a really special part of the relationship in families.
To learn any language it is best if the child swims in the milieu of the language. The reason bedtime reading is so important is not that it is a time to TEACH reading, but that it makes reading a part of a child???s reality???the reality which their brains are constituted by nature to master. If we want our children to master mathematics, we need to make sure that the phenomena of the physical world (Science), tools (Technology), how they work (Engineering), and measurement (Mathematics) are a conscious part of their lives, not just something they take for granted and hope others (certain rare mathematical geniuses) will miraculously take care of.
If shadow measuring became a weekly ritual???something you did every Sunday at noon for no good reason except to give a nod to the god of curiosity???many more questions would come up, be pondered and answered as the children got older. The questions would get more sophisticated as time went by:
As the days get shorter, what do you predict will happen to the shadows?
Does the length of the shadow increase by the same amount every day? (a core concept in calculus)
Is the relationship between the length of the days and the length of the shadow an inverse relationship or a direct relationship?
Why do the shadows get longer, when the days get shorter?
Why does it look like the sun goes around the earth, when actually the earth goes around the sun?
What is the height of the flagpole? How could we find out without climbing it?
???Daddy, who was Pythagoras????
Kids ask these kinds of questions naturally (???Where do babies come from????) all the time. All day long as they explore their world, they notice phenomena and try to make sense out of them. Most of the time, they ask and answer such questions in the privacy of their own minds. Every once in a while we get a glimpse of that mind, when they ask an adult. When they make what sounds like a statement of fact, the adult should take it as a question.
From birth, children are natural scientists. From Birth! (Sorry for shouting.) Children want to understand the real world and organize it so that they can wrap their brains around it???almost literally. Numbers, mathematical disciplines, scientific questions, tools and the way they work are the very stuff of the lives of children and adults alike. Mathematics is the language of the physical world, the more it is part of normal, everyday conversation, the better their minds will be prepared to understand the numbers that school throws at them.
Here???s a short list of idea starters for things the family could keep their eye on, measure variables which change over time or change as the result of other variable that can be measured.
Angle of Sun to planet.
The effect of rainfall on level of local bodies of water.
Effect of snowfall to flow of water in Spring.
Timing of flowers in the Spring ??? which and when.
A/C use as it relates to electric use and resulting bill.
Keep going with your own.
We were on a call recently with an extended creative team generating ideas for client videos. During breaks, I found myself jotting down examples of important creative thinking skills the team was exhibiting. These seven creative thinking skills demonstrated during the call are ones which benefit both those who display them and those working with them too:
1. Suspending advocacy of your own idea to push for another person’s concept.
It’s helpful to be able to come into a creative situation and demonstrate your willingness to champion another person’s idea. It can open the way to getting others to support your thinking, as well.
2. Putting your own idea to the same test you apply to an idea from someone else.
When it comes to your own ideas, it’s easy to be a hypocrite and apply all kinds of hurdles to other ideas while letting your own thinking slide by unchallenged in your own mind. Just one thing to remember: don’t become somebody known for doing this!
3. Combining two different ideas and making them better (not muddled) as one idea.
Often (maybe “almost always”) compromising on creative ideas leads to something nobody likes, recognizes, or thinks satisfies the original objective. Being able to dissect ideas to pull out highlights and put them together as something new, however, is entirely different, and a great skill to have.
4. Letting someone else take “ownership” of your idea in order to build support for it.
This skill really tests whether you believe so strongly in an idea you’re willing to let someone else step up and take it on as their own idea to see it prevail. The key to seeing your idea win out can be letting somebody else be the vocal proponent for it.
5. Displaying the patience to wait for someone else to say what needs to be said so all you have to do is agree.
It’s tempting to jump in right away and make all the points you feel necessary in a creative discussion before anyone else talks. At times though, patience and silence are called for when it becomes clear someone can and will express your perspective – and can do it more appropriately than you can.
6. Sticking to your guns amid challenges to a creative idea which makes solid strategic sense.
There are many creative ideas which, while being really cool, have nothing to do with what you’re trying to achieve and how you should be achieving it. When confronted with others who are passionately arguing for highly creative yet hardly strategic concepts, make and remake your case if the idea you’re advocating is on the mark strategically.
7. Always looking for new creative skills to develop in yourself and those around you.
Not only do you want to make yourself stronger creatively at every juncture, it’s in your best interests to help improve the creative performance of your overall team. Creative meetings are a great opportunity to spot gaps others labor under as well as seeing your own creative shortcomings. Inventory what you saw (or didn’t see) after a creative meeting and get to work filling the gaps.
How are you doing on these 7 creative thinking skills? How about your team?– Mike Brown
The Brainzooming Group helps make smart organizations more successful by rapidly expanding their strategic options and creating innovative plans they can efficiently implement. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 816-509-5320 to see how we can help you devise a successful innovation strategy for your organization.Zoom This!If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!