We are constantly encouraging our preschoolers to use their imagination, and seek out educational videos and games to help them develop their brain through creativity. We post their art on our refrigerators, and praise each learning skill. Yet, when they get into school we stop the encouragement of creativity by allowing our schools to teach through rote memorization and visual learning.

Why do we allow this to happen in our schools? Primarily because parents back away from getting involved in the teaching at school, and don’t pay attention to how their children are learning.

Teachers are overloaded with larger classes, lack of funding, and so much red tape there isn’t enough time to put together a curriculum that allows children to express themselves and learn to think for themselves. Teachers are spending more time teaching children how to pass standardized tests then actually teaching so children will learn past the tests.

We are seeing time and again that successful schools – the ones with the best attendance, the largest number of children who continue on to college, and the ones where they not only encourage parent participation they require it – teach creative thinking as opposed to an assembly-line of like-minded robots.

Creative learning, also called ‘lateral thinking,’ fosters problem solving abilities, encourages the child to look for more than one way to solve a problem, and allows for hands-on experience. In this world economy, someone who thinks ‘outside the box,’ has a better chance to get ahead than those who rely on ‘group think.’ The necessary skills are provided in order to survive in a very competitive world, and a person can’t get these skills by memorizing facts and dates, but in real-life experiences. In other words, the same old tried and true ideas just don’t work anymore. So why aren’t more school systems teaching creativity?

We all tend to return to patterns that have worked in the past, and we become addicted to the same style. Our brains become trained to come back to what is comfortable, but since they are not doing anything challenging there are no new synapse being made and no new connections formed to help our brains to grow.

If we stay within our comfort zone we become a society dependent on the work of others, and not a nation built on the ingenuity and creativity that made us great.  If teachers make their students learn only from the syllabus or textbook is that encouraging them to think for themselves? If we are complacent to type of teaching, are we then surprised when our children graduate without the proper skills to become successful?

By using lateral thinking techniques students are presented with the opportunity to become original problem solvers – something employers are always seeking. Lateral thinking can generate completely new concepts and ideas, and brilliant improvements to existing systems.

Teachers do not like disruptive students, and those who go against the grain and ask too many questions, or have a short attention span, are either discouraged or medicated – is that the message we want to send to those who are naturally curious? If so, we will never again see the likes of Leonardo da Vinci or Albert Einstein, for it was their desire to learn from observation and experience, and constantly seeking answers to difficult questions that made them the visionaries of their time.

This is Ron White. I am a two-time USA Memory Champion. I find it interesting to note the direction educators have to take in order to keep their jobs, and continue to receive the funding in order to teach. It is important that our next generation learn the skills to compete in our shrinking world – due to technology invented by those who sought answers ‘outside the box.’



Lateral Thinking Skills: http://www.kent.ac.uk/careers/sk/lateral.htm

Mind Tools – Creativity Tools Start Here: http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newCT_00.htm

Wikipedia – Lateral Thinking: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lateral_thinking

deBono Consulting – Lateral Thinking: http://www.debonoconsulting.com/lateral_thinking.asp