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Include your silliest idea, then find me your worst…

I remember an inset I was on a couple of years ago (although I can’t remember who delivered it), where the presenter was talking about getting students to brain storm properly. The problem was, he suggested, students have an in built editor which stops them from writing ideas that they think don’t have value, even though the point was to generate ideas, regardless of value. That editing process can take place later. This often strangles what should be a creative process.

That, coupled with Ewan’s recent post about using the idea of ‘what’s your worst idea’ to encourage creative thinking, clicked together in my mind this afternoon looking at creating survey questions with my year 10 Applied history course. The idea was so successful I thought I’d share it here.

In the brainstorm the object is simply to write as many questions as you can. Quality is irrelevant. Silly ideas are encouraged. They had 10 minutes, although I let this run on a few minutes as I was going round talking to each group in turn and prompting, encouraging and (often) reassuring that yes, they could write that down!

The second stage was a discussion. At this point I explained that ‘bad’ or ‘silly’ suggestions often had really good and imaginative questions hiding away. We looked at a few of my ‘bad’ ideas, and they improved them, and then I threw it over to them, asking for their ‘worst’ question. We then looked for the good idea that was hiding there and worked together on turning it to a decent question.

I’ve sent them off to find 5-8 great questions, based on the ideas they had in class. It’ll be interesting to see what they come back with, but compared to last year the discussion was richer and the quality of the ideas much higher already by taking this approach.

Definately one I’ll be coming back to!

Dave Stacey

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