Saturday, 11 July 2015

Zig Zag: the Surprising Path to Greater Creativity

"Zig Zag: the Surprising Path to Greater Creativity" by Keith Sawyer

I loved this book! So much so that I'm thinking of buying the paper version even though I own it on my Kindle.

Keith Sawyer, PhD, is the Morgan Distinguished Professor in Educational Innovations at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. His 2013 book Zig Zag identifies the 8 stages of the creative process, and contains over 100 techniques to enhance your own personal creativity. It is mainly research based. 

The eight stages he outlines are:
1. Ask  - finding the right question for your problem
2. Learn - practise deliberately
3.  Look - notice different elements connected to your problem from different contexts
4. Play - relax to allow your brain time to incubate your ideas
5. Think - try different techniques to vary your approach to the problem
6. Fuse - mash up your ideas
7. Choose - having generated a heap of ideas it is time to evaluate them to find the best ones
8. Make - draw it, link it to images, build it, make it concrete in someway and reflect on it

I found a lot of food for thought in this book, especially for teaching problem solving and writing. One part that I was very interested in was in the Make section where he talks about "Thinkering", which is thinking with your hands while model making. We had had a puppeteer in to work with the children with making shadow puppets. When we were doing our end-of-term learning showcase some of the children wanted to use shadow puppets as a way of demonstrating their learning; it was a real delight to see them working through their ideas and talk about how they could use them for their presentations. 

Having read the book, I am thinking for next year of using plasticine, model making and construction toys as an alternative to drawing or mind mapping to help pupils work through their ideas. So, watch this space!