This above is a common sentiment among many parents today, who want their children to think differently and outside-the-box. And while there are a plethora of modern tools to aid learning, without these 2 techniques, we would still be churning out
simple clogs in the same machinery.
—– 1. STAND UP, SPEAK UP! —–
Many a great ideas have breathed their last at this stage, as very few students have been taught to freely express their thoughts publicly. Thus, be it answers to questions or some bright new concept, many prefer to keep it to themselves.
Class participation via random name or roll number calls might be seen as forced participation, but some children do need an extra push to come out of their shell.
This method ensures that it’s not the same extroverted children who are putting up their hands to answer every question. Roll call participation helps shy students with their social anxiety, while the confident students can be taught to respectfully counter an idea being presented or add to it, thus allowing full participation.
Very crucial to this practice is the instructor’s positive reinforcement and non-judgmental stance. Even if an answer is grossly incorrect, it cannot be met with any looks of disbelief or snickering, as it would discourage the student at the receiving end, along with the rest who are witnessing the carnage. Off-the-mark answers too should be welcomed and smartly tweaked by the instructor, to make them more acceptable as an alternate answer- while giving the student credit for thinking differently.
P.S. – The term ‘off-the-mark answers’ is being used for the student’s common misconceptions or innocent errors, and not the deliberate ones which many ‘extra creative’ students can come up with. Thus, instructor discretion always advised!
—- 2. Once upon a time, in a land far, far away.. :—-
Children’s books have it right – every concept is aided by a picture or a story. And the same technique can be applied when teaching complex or new ideas to help the student imagine a scenario. For example, in a business class for the subject of international marketing, the instructor can first share some interesting examples like Mattel’s Barbie launch failure in Japan or Home Depot’s failure in Mexico.
This allows the students to see marketing theories come to life in actual market settings. It ignites their creativity as they analyse the cause and effects – in this case, the importance of understanding consumer preferences (Mattel’s case), and lifestyle (Home Depot’s case). After discussing the case studies mentioned in books, students can be asked to contribute their own examples.
Site visits, role plays, inviting field experts for Q&A sessions etc. can further aid the student’s imagination to grow manifold and let them see a world outside of their books and classrooms.
Thus, only when students are in the habit of thinking for themselves and expressing the same on a regular basis, can they metamorphose into individuals to whom creativity comes naturally!