Brainstorming was first introduced in 1939 by an advertising executive as a way to generate ideas within a group setting. Since then it has been used in education in a number of ways. Some teachers use it to help teams of students explore creative solutions to problems. Others have used it as a way to generate ideas individually before completing a writing task. I personally love this method because it allows me to dump all of my own ideas onto a visible surface where I can then manipulate them into a logical and purposeful order. However, not all brainstorming is created equal.
In 2010, research conducted at Syracuse University using more than 800 teams discovered that brainstorming was a waste of time. Their research states that social anxiety and conformity tend to take over brainstorming sessions leaving the teams with ideas that centered around the less capable members in the group. When subjects did not interact, their ideas were more creative and original. In fact, coming together to brainstorm actually negatively affected their productivity in the course of the experiment.
Of course this does not mean that YOU should abandon the practice in your homeschooling, especially if you find that it works for you and your students. I certainly don’t plan to stop this method anytime soon. I find that it works wonders with my little ones as we navigate our learning day. Here are some tips that everyone should embed into brainstorming sessions to ensure you are getting the most productive and creative ideas from your children:
No judgement. Creativity requires out-side-the-box thinking. Students and teachers should be encouraging. Ideas that are obvious, simple or way out there should not be pushed aside. Make room for everything during a brainstorm.
Think freely. No matter how crazy it is! Brainstorming is just a brain dump of placing ideas in a physical space. They can be expanded or nixed later. Ideas are neither silly nor impossible.
Big numbers. The more ideas, the better. Save them. Come back to them. Keep them for reference. Brainstorming can transform itself into a placeholder for redirection when you are stuck down the road. Often times my own family will find solutions to different problems from previous brainstorms.
What say you, HSC? I would love to hear how you have adapted brainstorms into your learning day. How does it work or not work for your family? What are some of the best ways you brainstorm? Subscribe to the Homeschooler Post Blog. Read and chat with your favorite columnists right on the article page (like this one). Need more info or want help applying what you read here? Just comment below.
-Laurie Gracia-Alikhan The Homeschooler Post, Editor