Limits & Creativity

All week, we’ve been painting castles in third grade using only red, blue, and white paint. By limiting the color palette, students are learning about proportions in color mixing, and they loved sharing their “recipes” with each other. The many shades of purple (a royal color by the way because the dye was very hard to make in ancient times,so only the wealthy could afford it), were quite striking on the drying rack. There is a lot of literature about limitations spurring creativity, like http://www.wired.com/culture/design/magazine/17-03/dp_intro. I often come up with my best ideas after hitting a roadblock and having to deal with that limitation. I even keep an idea generator on my computer, but my favorite idea generator is persistence. I also like “SCAMPER”:

S = Substitute
C = Combine
A = Adapt
M = Modify, magnify or miniaturize
P = Put to other uses
E = Eliminate
R = Reverse or rearrange

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~ by lgirbino on October 13, 2011.

2 Responses to “Limits & Creativity”

  1. I’d love to see your idea generator! You know these terms come from ‘synectics,’ right? When I have a student who’s stuck on a design problem, I tell them to pick an element of design, a principle of design, and a ‘synectic’ (more or less one of the verbs from SCAMPER).

  2. Hey Adam-
    here’s the link to the widget I was talking about:
    http://mac.softpedia.com/get/Dashboard-Widgets/Webcams/Miscellaneous/Idea-Generator.shtml
    Definitely customize the word lists if using with students…You are totally right about the terms coming from “synectics”–the Greek origin means “the joining together of different and apparently irrelevant elements.” I even learned that teaching model way back in grad school. Now that “creativity” is back in the mix (21st c. skills, STEM, the Finnish educational model, etc.) so is synectics (yay!).

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