In 1953 a great group creativity technique known as brainstorming came to be when Alex Faickney Osborn wrote a book called “Applied Imagination”. Osborn’s theory was that more ideas could come about more efficiently if people would brainstorm or put their ideas on together to get more creative.
There is no scientific evidence that brainstorming will or will not help generate ideas and at times, if not monitored, groups can become too social and lose sight of what they are focusing on. However, with that said, brainstorming can produce some great things as well. When groups get together to put ideas together it can boost morale, enhance an educational or work experience, and promote team work.
For a teacher
it is important to remember a few key points when you break students off into groups for brainstorming or problem solving in general. These are:
- Focus – You want the group to solve the problem and to do it as well as possible. Communicating this to your students is key. You don’t just want a lot of solutions but you want the students to take their solutions and see how good they can make them while working together.
- No negativity – When you have students in a group situation and you want everyone to feel like they can share ideas or thoughts you absolutely do not want criticism. It should be stressed that there are no bad ideas, but take the ideas and improve upon them to make them all that they can be. This helps students lift one another, work together and ultimately raise self esteem.
- Strange is not bad – Just as you express to students that there are no bad ideas make sure they know that thinking outside of the box is welcome. Great innovators do not think inside of the box and we should foster a student’s creativity as much as possible.
A teacher can present the problem, give the student all the information necessary, carefully choose which students will be in which groups and possibly give them a foundation of where to start by asking questions or posing ideas. There are many ways to go about brainstorming so be sure you are clear to your students.
Some subjects that this is good for are things like history. You can give students a historical situation and ask them what a leader could have done and what the outcome would have been. You can ask how many different solutions there were to different historical issues and what the end result would have been if different roads would have been taken. When talking to teens about life situations brainstorming is good. Research has shown that if you do situational brainstorming and have teens
come up with ways to handle different scenarios they are more likely to follow through in a like manner. This is great for teaching kids to say no to drug use
, underage drinking
, sexual promiscuity and other negative behaviors.
There are so many teaching methods and they all have their pros and cons. Whether you are a parent, a teacher you need to be familiar with the different methods. You may come across a student that some of the more well known teaching methods just don’t help. Being familiar with as many teaching methods as possible will enable you to better help your student or child.
Here is just a short list of some teaching methods, their strengths and weaknesses and the preparation needed for each. Please remember that this list is not comprehensive.
- Strengths: Present information in a logical and straight forward method, can include stories or experiences that motivate and inspire, gets people thinking and brain storming, and is great for large groups of appropriate age levels.
- Short comings: Just because someone knows a lot on a subject does not mean they are good at presenting it, audiences can be passive and this teaching method lends itself to the audience just sitting and staring, hard for the teacher to know what the group is assimilating, one way communication.
- To prepare: Any lecturer needs to make sure that the give a good introduction to get the group involved and excited about the information, the need to be mindful of content as well as time allotted, be prepared with examples, stories and visual aids.
* Note that lecturing can either be completely one way or you can open it up for discussion with the group at different times. It does not just have to be standing and talking at people the whole time.
- Strengths: Creative ideas can flow as people talk and feed off of one anther’s thoughts, encourages group participation and cooperation, draws off of individual experiences and not just facts, gives a group something in common and brings unity in the group. Is a great form of collaborative learning.
- Short comings: Hard to stay focused and can become easily scattered, need to be controlled and have limits like a time limit, hard to get people to think outside of their own circumstances, classroom management is required to avoid confrontation, contention and criticism among group members.
- Select appropriate issue for discussion and have ideas prepared in advance that may help a group start brain storming or to help them out of drawing a mental blank.
- Strengths: Can be entertaining, visually stimulating and help bring new ideas, keeps people’s attention, if chosen correctly can look professional, brings on discussion after it is over. Great for visual learning styles.
- Short comings: Can become unfocused, some members of group may lose interest and not participate, the video is really only as good as what the discussion after brings out of the group.
- Preparation: Be sure to have all equipment you need and know how to run the equipment. Have questions prepared beforehand so that you keep direction in the class.
Role Playing –
- Strengths: Provides drama, allows participants to empathize with whatever role they are playing, hands on problem solving and use of practical skills, can be very fun. Can teach proper social skills by example.
- Short comings: Many people are too inhibited for role playing or will resist, does not work well in large groups, people may feel embarrassed.
- Preparation: You have to be very organized for this with clear guidelines and give clear instructions.
No matter what you are teaching there are multiple ways to present most material. Depending on the issue you are teaching or what your subject matter may be you can choose the appropriate teaching method for your situation.