The biggest gift that we can give to our children is an ability for independent thinking. To think with your own head. We spoke with Nastja Mulej, a licensed trainer for de Bono thinking tools, about teaching children to think with more focus, objectively, holistic and creatively. To become more independent, resourceful and successful in managing their life.
Quality of our learning depends on quality of our thinking. A single thinking habit or a tool might strongly influence a future of any child, says dr. Edward de Bono, physician, psychologist and one of leading global authority of creative thinking. His student Nastja Mulej has taught his thinking tools for several years. She emphasises that thinking masters are not the ones who win verbal fights nor those who has a database full of information or those who are excellent in rhetoric. Masters of thinking are constructive, they know how to choose the right options and decisions, know how to plan and create new possibilities.
We kill creativity by believing in strengthening children’ intelligence only. By intelligence we mean data memorising and logical reasoning. We cannot help children by putting them behind social norms and keeping them from standing out for every cost. We have to see a child in front of us and not some kind of a representative of particular developmental phase in terms what he should do or know at certain age. “I also get nervous when people speak about ‘good’ girls or ‘good’ boys which for me is simply submissive leading,” evaluates Nastja.
You facilitate creativity (or simply keep a natural creativity) if you beside words correct and wrong simply add to your conversation with children a word interesting. “Of course it is correct to say there are 1.239 km between Vienna and Paris, but it is interesting to see children answers about the kilometres in case they use bike, helicopter, on foot, scooter or if they drive backward. A child will love to create if you will respect the process of creating and not just the results. And do not give them time limits. Enable them to create in open free atmosphere in which they will not feel the fear or stress” Nastja observe that children feel motivated if we do not organize competitions in which only the first win. Listen children’ suggestion with enthusiasm and interest and do not interrupt them in speaking.
Creativity techniques for children
Nastja train the teachers how to use de Bono thinking tools in their pedagogical practice: tools for focusing attention, parallel thinking and collaborating, and deliberate generation of a large quantity of new fresh ideas. “I wish that our teachers lead thinking clubs and prepare them for future in which they might teach Thinking as an equivalent subject to other subjects in school.” Thinking tools are also for parents. Ideally, we learn thinking tools for three years in row, 1-2 hours a week, one tool every week.
Children go through de Bono thinking tools in the following didactical order:
- PMI (Plus, Minus, Interesting) is a way of treating ideas, suggestions and proposals. The natural reaction to an idea is to like or dislike it, to approve or disapprove. It you like an idea; it is very unnatural to look for the negative or minus aspects. If you dislike an idea it is very unusual to look for the positive or plus aspects. It is equally unnatural to pick out the merely interesting aspects of an idea. Using the PMI as a deliberate operation gives students a means of by-passing the natural emotional reaction to an idea.
- CAF (Consider All Factors) differs from PMI in that PMI is a reaction to an idea whereas CAF is an exploration of a situation before coming up with an idea. The two do sometimes overlap because some of the factors that have to be considered obviously have a plus or minus aspect. The intention with a CAF is to be as complete as possible and to consider all factors rather than looking at them in terms of favourable or unfavourable factors.
- C&S (Consequences and Sequel) is concerned with action of some sort, either the action that one intends to take oneself or the action that others are taking. The intention is to enlarge the view beyond the immediate effect of that action. An action may seem worthwhile if the immediate effect is good. But if one makes a deliberate effort to look at longer term consequences, the action may not be worthwhile at all. Conversely, an action that has good long-term consequences may not seem very enticing at the moment.
- AGO (Aims, Goals, Objectives) is a device to get students to focus directly and deliberately on the intention behind actions. What is the actor aiming for? What is trying to be achieved? What does the actor want to bring about? What are the actor’s objectives? What are the actor’s goals?
- FIP (First Important Priorities) is a crystallization of the process of picking out the most important ideas, factors, objectives, consequences, etc. obviously some of these ideas are more important than others. The purpose of FIP is to restore the balance in a deliberate manner.
- APC (Alternatives, Possibilities, Choices) is a crystallization of the process of deliberately trying to find alternatives. In taking action or making a decision, there may seem to be few alternatives, but a deliberate effort to find alternatives can change the whole situation. The APC operation is an attempt to focus attention directly on exploring all the alternatives or choices or possibilities – beyond the obvious ones.
- OPV (Other People’s View) is a crystallization of the process of looking at other people’s viewpoints so that the process can be used consciously and deliberately. Being able to look at and understand another person’s point of view may be a very important part indeed of the thinking process, and so a deliberate effort may have to be made to see another point of view. This deliberate effort is the OPV. It may apply to another person’s point of view or to other people’s point of view in general.