Posted by: jockmackenzie | May 5, 2009

Creativity – Thinking Inside and Outside the Box

After telling your students as to whether you want a formal essay or an informal one (see last section), it would be nice to talk to your classes about creativity. A popular phrase of the day is “thinking outside the box.” My brother tells me that it originates from the puzzle that asks one to join all of the dots in a square without lifting the pencil from the page.

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Most of us assume that we are constrained by the edges of the square, sort of like being encouraged to color inside the lines, and are thus faced with an impossible task. If we allow our pencil to exceed the boundaries the task becomes possible.

I am not a particular fan of “popular phrases of the day” and, although I am a huge fan of creativity, I believe that we need to think both inside and outside the box. When we are working with our students and if the topic of the day is essays, they need to understand the basics and be encouraged to be creative.

The section in red is from my book Essay Writing: Teaching the Basics From The Ground Up. I am a card-carrying proponent of the power of creativity, in offering the world a new perspective. It is my heartfelt belief that we need to think inside and outside the box. By inside, I mean using to our best advantage all of the wonderful thoughts and creations of our predecessors. Outside is not being satisfied, believing that perhaps there is an even better way.

I encourage you to be a risk taker. As Randy Pausch said in The Last Lecture, ” . . . be the first penguin.” Dare to be the first one into the water, ahead of the pack, willing to see what happens. Failure and disappointment hurt – but so does the alternative. Are you happy with “same old, same old”?


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