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Special Letter to Creativity Leaders

by Win Wenger, Ph.D.

 

The following was in response to congratulatory letters to us written by key leaders in the creativity movement. They were congratulating us for the breakthrough success of our methods at St. Andrews Country Day School in Buffalo, whose entire student body averaged four and a half years' gain of academic achievement this past year (and whose graduating students have won scholarships in unprecedented numbers), and whose current performance is on track to substantially surpass this record.

We have been urging members of the creativity community to examine the nature and implications of their own methods, whose application to education and schooling could easily be as valuable as the application to business clients they have nearly all been giving all their attention to. There are now hundreds of various creativity-enhancing and creative problem-solving techniques in professional use around the world, but their use has been almost entirely confined to the commercial world. Every such method can also serve as a "superlearning" method, strongly improving both teaching and learning.

Where most "alternative" methods of teaching and learning are complex and require special dedication and talent from teachers, key elements of our method are utterly easy and simple. Techniques like Instant Replay can be easily learned in one minute and routinely applied throughout a lifetime of teaching. Just that one technique alone, if used most days during a school year, will improve students' rate of gain in academic achievement throughout that year by forty to fifty per cent—and that is only one of many whose use can produce that kind of performance. Combinations of these can be "awesome."

We hereby invite creativity leaders around the world to give some badly needed attention to schools and educators within your reach. Those schools and the human beings confined within them, both teachers and students, urgently need your help—and you can experience for yourself the profound satisfaction we here are feeling from the breakthrough gains happening every day for the people at St. Andrews.

For readers not yet in the creativity movement: "CPS" in the letter below refers to "Creative Problem-Solving," a term first attached to the Osborn-Parnes CPS method but eventually extended to all forms of problem-solving which entail some technique involving creativity or ingenuity.

The following is adapted from our letters in reply to the above-mentioned letters of congratulation:


Thank you! Much appreciated.

Here's something to consider —

  1. These successful methods closely relate to, and in some instances are, creativity—and CPS techniques such as those you already know and practice.

  2. EVERY creativity-related and CPS technique can easily be turned into such superlearning methods—see A Huge Untapped Resource.

What you and other CPSers already know and practice could be getting similar results to ours in schools where you are or where you have contacts.

Bottom line—

  • All learning is based on associations with prior experiences and a long chain of previous understandings.

  • Because of individual differences among learners and in their various life histories, it makes far more sense to facilitate learners to form their own meaningful associations with current learning materials than for the teacher to try to provide all things to all people. Not even the very best teachers can do that for all their students, but every student has experiences and meaningful relationships that he or she can and should associate with current learning.

  • The creativity and CPS methods that you use, that I use, that the whole creativity community variously uses or at least espouses, like traditional and other modern forms of Socratic Method, challenge the client or participant or student into examining his own awarenesses and perceptions and trying to make his responses from there—thus inducing him to search out and form consciously his own associations.

An example for you, if you care to test this remarkably obvious point —

"Please turn to the person nearest to you, and brainstorm and/or describe to him or her what for you might be the most important implications of the above... please see if you can come up with a dozen possible implications in the next ten minutes, starting now...."

"....and why you feel that these might be some of the ones most important?"

(Or you can audio-record your responses to these two questions. Or write—but you can much more readily get a dozen or more observations expressed in ten minutes if you are telling them aloud to someone....)

—As easily as that! Or almost as easily as to be found in Instant Replay—an easy minute to learn, and even that one technique, used most days, will improve students' year-to-year rate of gain by 40 to 50%—part of the package of methods whose use at St. Andrews led to students in just one year making four and a half years' gains in academic achievement. One fun class there gained eight full years in the one year, and that is likely to become the new norm as experience builds in handling our modern Socratic method there.

Looking at these results and this obvious information, looking at the largely pitiful and inexcusable performance of most schools today, looking at the tremendous unmet needs of the developing human beings caught up in those schools, and looking at the creativity-related techniques and methods that you already know and hopefully practice: isn't it time to resolve this, today? Whom do you know in schools near you, and what will you say to them?

O

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Win Wenger



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