A Huge Untapped Resource

CPS Methods into Learning Methods

by Win Wenger, Ph.D.
<< CPS Techniques Index

As of yet, almost no one in either the worldwide creativity movement or the worldwide accelerated-learning movement is aware that every technique for solving problems or for evoking creativity, can also serve brilliantly in another capacity. Each such creativity-related method is also a profoundly effective method for improving and accelerating learning, especially learning-with-understanding.

What a tremendous resource for learners, teachers and trainers! There are now hundreds of different creative problem-solving (CPS) methods in successful professional use around the world. Correspondingly, there are hundreds of specific techniques for profoundly improving learning-with-understanding, of whatever curriculum content especially content which involves intellectual or artistic or human understanding.

To give yourself a working feel for this astounding fact, attend a challenging lecture or read a formal article, chapter or text. Then, in the middle of it or even at the end of it, use DEAMCrabApple or indeed any of the CPS methods from this website which are listed below, and use that CPS method to process one of these questions:

  • “What are the ramifications of the main point in this lesson?”
  • “What main point in this lesson do I most need to give further attention to, and why?”
  • “How do the various points in this lesson relate to one-another?”
  • “What in my experience – or in my whole life thus far – does the main point of this lesson somehow remind me of? I wonder why that somehow reminds me of that….”
  • etc…

A good CPS method to start such a question on, which will quickly result in a flood of new and more securely grasped long-term understandings, might be either Windtunnel or Freenoting (see descriptions for these and other problem-solving methods below). In successive lessons you might then graduate to CrabApple and/or the remarkably rewarding Problem-Solving Woodswalk. The same type of question will turn CPS methods involved with visual thinking, such as Over-the-Wall and Beachhead, likewise into powerful ways to accelerate learning of content with understanding. That even includes simply straight Image Streaming with such a question and context in mind and letting yourself be surprised by what comes.

Each of these and other CPS methods are listed below, together with the addresses where to find their step-by-specific-step instructions. Just put one of these CPS experience methods together with one of those questions, together with whatever context you are seeking to learn and understand in, and you have a powerful, specific method for improving meaningful learning-with-understanding. (Consider: you have available to you HUNDREDS of different such CPS experience methods!)

Summarizing:  In the midst of or at the end of a challenging unit of study, pick one of the above-listed problem-solving methods. Run one of the above questions through that method, and you will be flooded with meaningful new insights about what was in that unit of study.

Here are a few of the CPS (Creative Problem-Solving) techniques listed here in just this one website. Links will open in a new window.

DEAM (Double-Entry A-Ha Method), together with its extension, Evoked Sidebands.

CrabApple and the Problem-Solving Woodswalk. To some extent a Rorschach Inkblot Test can be similarly used.

Gravel Gulch. Sequential Divergent/Convergent stages, through discrete specific steps, such as in the Osborn-Parnes “Brainstorming” CPS method, a simplified version of which is our Gravel Gulch method.

Over-the-Wall, going for surprise insights, and/or Three Doors,
its simpler and quicker version.

High Thinktank, especially as a way to get fresh insights up on material and contexts long since heavily plowed.

Straight Image Streaming. Image Stream on such a context and such a question — see information which begins with Image Streaming and unfolds from there through each linked click-through article. Especially important is to aim to let yourself be surprised by what is shown to you.

The Win/Win-Finder. Especially in social, historical, behavioral, economic, political, ecological or business-management studies, use the Win/Win-Finder to understand the dynamics of any situation, map out the stakeholders there and the relationships between them and the relationships between them and what you want to do there. Translate what you want to do there into one of the above questions.

Idea Generator for Scientists (Method A). Teach or explain the situation to a ten-year-old child as per the instructions self-taught and explained in Method A, titled “Explaining advanced concepts to a child”. That sounds pretty challenging, but read on, there, how and why that is done.

Idea Generator for Scientists (Method C). Competitive small-team brainstorming of observations on the most basic phenomena to be found on the topic, as exemplified at Method C, “Team Brainstorming.” This is especially effective because it brings us back into concrete sensory touch with reality, where we most tend to otherwise get into difficulties, each higher layer of abstraction being another opportunity for error to creep in.

Beachhead, not only an inventing method but an en scenario “visit” to an imagined place where the problem has already been solved.

Clarification Breathing and Noise-Removal Breathing,
in the pair of articles given you in Winsights No. 28 and No. 29, where you literally breathe up and away out of the way whatever had been standing between you and full clarity of insight in whatever context.

Borrowed Genius engages a person who is an absolute genius at solving such-and-such problems. As this genius, doodle in the problem context and discover what it occurs to you to do.

5 hot tips for little knacks in learning Increase your neurological contact with what you’re trying to learn (as in Chapter One, Frame One, in the book Beyond Teaching And Learning). Use such tactics in the same way that those in the creativity movement would use SCAMPER in CPS—i.e., each of your senses, different mental ways of engaging or manipulating the subject or topic, in imagination examining the effects of making the problem bigger or smaller or purple or upside-down, etc.

Predictive Imagery, a cluster of possible methods for problem-solving, from this learning method. Seek answer to the question, “When I’m looking at the best solution to this problem, what will most surprise me?” Or, “WHERE can I find the best answer to this problem?” Or, “What surprising activity do I most need to be doing which will best lead me to a clear good answer on this problem?” Or, closest to the original format for Predictive Imagery, “Show me an image which somehow will make what I encounter during these next ten minutes point me to the best answer on this problem.”

Freenoting, already recommended to more than double your rate of long-term retention and understanding when you run this process for 15 or more minutes at the end of each major unit of learning. Freenoting has obvious use as a problem-solving method directly. Writing furious stream-of-consciousness associations, without pause or hesitation, anything that comes to mind in the context, will stir up a lot of good new ideas, including your best answer or solution to whatever problem or context.

Windtunnel is even more powerful in all the ways that Freenoting is powerful. Unfolding to a meaningful live listener, you can reach the same level of effect in 11 minutes that would require 18 if just using pen and pad or your computer.

Grand Shuffle of Three Factors [Appendix 3 in Dynamic Teaching].
Original teaching format: in whatever lesson, what were three of the main factors? To develop understanding of the dynamics within that situation, throw onto the wall Factors A, B and C. Have students brainstorm, in small semi-competitive teams, all possible relationships between A & B, then between B & C, then between C & A, then mark the most interesting items. Then, have the teams compete to find, from the resulting mass and mess, the most elegant statement which encompasses that entire situation. The same exploring of dynamics which gives insight about a situation when learning, gives insight about a situation when problem-solving in it.


Creativity professionals can offer an endless reservoir of methods for drastically improved learning, teaching and training, not competing for scarce resources in the curriculum but facilitating enormously the learning of the contents of that curriculum, making—not taking—space in that tight curriculum.

Creativity professionals can be remarkably “fast studies” in any field or topic in which they are called upon to consult.

Students have an enormous reservoir of available methods to draw upon to render easy, quick, meaningful, memorable and more effective the learning and studies with which they are contending.

Teachers have an enormous reservoir of available methods to draw upon to render their students surprisingly successful by whatever measure.

Teachers – and schools – and parents – and students – have available to then an enormous reservoir of available methods to draw upon to solve their own, each other’s, the schools’ and their community’s problems.

Teachers already equipped with various accelerated learning techniques already have in hand ways to solve their own, each other’s, the schools’ and their community’s problems.

You, Gentle Reader, are brighter than you think. You can do a lot of things, and you can do a lot of things better than you thought you could, by specifically applying specific methods like those you just read of here, in the ways suggested here. Let’s not settle for anything less. Try one problem, one question, one method, let us know what happened, and then go on to the next one problem, one question, one method….

<< CPS Techniques Index