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Imagine a classroom full of kids exploring and researching questions they came up with. Imagine that instead of learning predefined curated material, each of these kids goes on a journey - a path paved with curiosity, creativity, discovery, and imagination, leading to a place we cannot identify in advance.
Learning is a journey…
In my previous article I've introduced the Observe-Imagine cycle as the driving force behind any creative workflow. I then described how once you master this core skill you can use it to ignite creativity in numerous different of processes. In the seempli Creativity Platform we call these processes seempli Gears.
Today, I invite you to walk with me through an example of using two process Gears as we apply them in a creative task. It is a great chance to understand the dynamics of a creative process and how it can benefit from a strong Observe-Imagine engine.
This short walkthrough will also be a good opportunity for us to talk about a domain which should have been the first one to adopt creativity and imagination as first-class tools, but in many cases is still failing to do so: Education.
So here's what we are going to do. We are going to walk through a real live example of using the seempli Creativity Platform. When I say this is going to be a live demonstration I mean just that: at this point, I still don't know what will be its results. I do know which processes I intend to use, but the outcome of these processes will hopefully surprise me as it will surprise you.
At the same time, you are invited to apply the same processes for yourself on the example we will define. See what you come up with - it might be even more surprising!
Ready to go? Let's start!
The Mission: Our Solar System
In any process, we should first define the goal. The target for this little experiment is a learning target: I would like to learn about our Solar System.
Now, before we continue, let's put aside the traditional way of approaching such a task. We are not going to Google the term, and we are not going to go to our local library and look for any book we can find on the topic. At least not just yet. Instead, we are going to spice up the learning process with some creativity. To do that, will use the Subject Exploration I Gear.
I should note that the Gear's definition assumes you already have some experience with using seempli's Seeds and Prisms, and indeed, the more you master the seempli gameplay, the easier it would be to apply it in the process. But trust me: you will get the hang of it in no time (in a couple of paragraphs to be more accurate).
Ok.. so, here's what we do. We first write down the subject we wish to explore. In our case: The Solar System. When applying this Gear, we are using the subject as a Prism - as the context, or the playground, to which we apply the Observe-Imagine engine.
Next, I am going to pick a random Seed (remember… I am going to be as surprised as you. Really!). And here it is:
Wow… this one did catch me by surprise, but this will just make it more fun: let's try to play with the Seed in our mind until some question or idea for exploration in the context of The Solar System comes up. I know this may sound far-fetched, but give it a try for a minute or two before reading on…
Here's what I came up with: I thought about the relationship between Romeo and Juliet. I thought about their mutual attraction (this was the first motive that came to my mind). I immediately associated attraction with gravity and replaced people with plants and came up with the question: How does the gravity between the planets in our Solar System affect their orbit?
Did you manage to come up with an associative question of your own?
Ok, so we have a question in hand which we can later use to explore the subject we wish to learn. We will naturally need some background material, some resources, some physics knowledge and maybe applying some mathematics. Or maybe we will find a simple answer in Google (not the best way to explore, but the temptation is always there). The point is that the question I came up with is mine. I am curious about it, and it will surely motivate me to go out there and gain knowledge (and maybe even hands on experience) which would not be accessible (or very interesting) if I would have just opened a textbook.
Let's try another random Seed… the dice is rolling, and the winner is…
Starting to get the hang of it? Before reading on, try coming up with a question in the context of The Solar System inspired by a Bad Idea. Don't hold yourself back. Write down whatever comes to your mind.
The immediate association I had when I saw the title of the Seed was: it's probably a bad idea to travel to other plants. I know, some people would find it anything but a bad idea. But that's the beauty of this process: it's 100% personal. The outcome is derived from my imagination, my personality, and my experience. So, the question I came up with is: What would happen to me if I travel to each of the plants?
Such a question is a wonderful opportunity for research that can expand to so many areas such as space travel and the distance of each planet from Earth, the atmosphere and surface of each planet, traveling closer to the sun (and can our spaceship protect us), and many other surprising aspects. It's an invitation to a wide and thorough exploration - to a journey.
One last Seed for this Gear. Here we go:
Care to try it?
My line of thought playing with the Mask Seed was: What would happen if Earth would dress up as another planet, for example: if it would have Mars' atmosphere or Saturn's rings?
Once again, this question is just a starting point for different exploration paths, using many resources covering multiple domains. And (most important), it really got me wondering!
When I shared this Seed and the Subject Prism with my friend Tom Harris he came up with a completely different association: Eclipse. That would be a great trigger for many other exploration questions (such as describing the types of eclipses we know or figuring out how would an eclipse look like on other plants).
Without applying this creative process to the goal of learning about our Solar System, we would have probably lost any chance to be surprised, to explore something which is not trivial, and to be truly be engaged in the learning activity.
Let's try a slightly different process to generate more exploration questions for the goal we have defined:
The Subject Exploration II Gear asks us to use the subject we wish to explore as a Seed (instead of a context Prism). We are going to look around us (wherever we are) while keeping our subject Seed in mind until some association comes to mind. We will then use this association as a trigger for an exploration question.
Ready? Look around you or even go out for a few minutes and keep The Solar System Seed in mind. What's the first thing that catches your eyes?
The first thing that I noticed was a tree. I thought about it for a few seconds, and I came up with the question: What would it take to grow trees on another planet (Mars for example)?
With this process, we don't use a random Seed as the trigger for imagining and creating an exploration question. Instead, we are using our observation skill first, and then we are changing the context of what we find using our imagination.
Let's try to come up with another exploration question. Look around you…
So I am currently on a bus on my way home, and we just came across a building owned by the local Electric Company. And I wonder… If we are going to build a base station on another planet, how would we generate electricity?
Once again, a simple association helped me imagine a question, which can be the trigger for an in-depth research going into so many domains.
This journey, which has started right now with a random insight on a bus ride, is the essence of learning. Whatever will come out of it will be by far more valuable than any textbook I would have read.
The Begining of a Journey
We started with a subject we wish to learn more about. Instead of starting with facts, we took some time to come up with questions. As it turned out, we managed to come up with some surprising questions with very little effort. And each of these questions is just the beginning of a journey that will result in real in-depth learning.
Now, I have to confess. When I chose the subject for this demonstration, I picked a topic which I thought I knew a lot about. I thought this would help me come up with good examples. But as soon as I came up with the first question, I realized I don't know that much. Moreover, I got curious. I found myself engaged. I would really like to know the answers to all the questions I came up with, and I know the process of getting these answers might be more challenging that just reading a book about the Solar System.
I hope that the questions you came up with got you curious too.
Imagine a classroom full of kids exploring and researching questions they came up with. Imagine that instead of learning predefined curated material, each of these kids goes on a journey - a path paved with curiosity, creativity, discovery, and imagimation, leading to a place we cannot identify in advance.
Imagine these kids going out to the world. It doesn't matter if they will use the concrete knowledge they gained about a particular subject. What matters is that they will master the process of learning and exploring. They will never stop asking questions, and they will have the tools needed to answer them as well.
Imagine the amazing things these kids will be able to achieve.
Final Note: The above is not just for kids
The seempli K-12 Program provides free access to the entire seempli Creativity Platform for K-12 Teachers, because our future depends on the ability of today’s children to see things differently.
Lidor’s visual artworks, which are focused on the things hundreds and thousands of people pass by in the street every day, led him to create seempli to inspire people to practice creative observation on a daily basis.
Using seempli Lidor works with individuals, teams, and organizations seeking to develop and enhance their creativity.