Opportunity for CPS in Schools and Education

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

EVERY ONE of the hundreds of different methods for creativity and for ingeniously solving problems, now successfully in professional use around the world, can also serve as an amazingly effective method for learning. Any creativity professionals and consultants who find this out and are willing to test it, can immediately become super-quick studies. Mostly unbeknownst to themselves as yet, they can command in depth, with rich creative understanding, almost any of the topics or fields of study they find themselves needing to bone up on and understand in pursuit of their work. This also opens a huge window of opportunity for the entire creativity field vis-a-vis schools and education – but first let’s relate a few brief facts:

In your work with creativity, you’ve been told that the key principle is suspension of judgement. Maybe, with a few possible arguments back and forth, that is indeed the key or a key principle. However, you may have noticed several other things about most creativity-related training and processing —

  1. Nearly all the work is done in small groups. In the name of “team building” a lot of person-to-person back-and-forth communicating happens, at verbal and non-verbal levels.
  2. Nearly all the work is done in SMALL groups. Large groups working together as a whole, just aren’t very effective at brainstorming and similar functions—they have to sub-divide into smaller groups so each individual is more involved, gets more air time, gets more feedback, and the whole process flows much faster. You don’t want your participants having to wait turns to get their sound bytes in, when you want to draw forth from them, instead, in-depth rich subtleties and awarenesses.

The same factors which have led the more successful creativity programs to arrange their large groups into small groups for most of the real creativity, also apply to what schools and educators need desperately to do to draw forth from their students the in-depth rich subtleties of THEIR understandings in context of the subject of study.

Classical Socratic Method did make a practice of drawing forth such understandings from its students and participants, with such extraordinarily high results that “education” itself was named after that concept of drawing forth (transl. educare). A major shortcoming of classical Socratic Method, however, was that it was expensive. While the instructor or facilitator was drawing forth one or two students, the other forty-seven would become restless.

In both its heydays—late classical Greece and again in Renaissance Europe, both eras resulting in a huge record flowering of world-class genius—only a few elite could afford having Socratic education. Without really realizing what it really has and what you really have, the worldwide creativity movement in the past sixty years solved that problem, devising ways to divide into small, actively creative groups, keeping them in focus, keeping them productively on task, keeping themselves and each other fully engaged. You will find an abstraction of some of your various CPS-related methods, pulled together into an easy set of “house rules,” in Dynamic Format.

What you have not realized until now is that this aspect of your methods makes the best-demonstrated “superlearning” method on Earth, for 2400 years affordable only to a favored few elite, in improved modern form so affordable it costs much less even than the conventional methods now in classroom use—and, as it happens, in many regards even more effective than was the classical form of Socratic Method.

Here are a few incidental considerations:

  • Student-to-student communications as a major basis of instruction, albeit non-verbally, are a key element already implicit within some forms of the martial arts, and also in the acculturation aspects of Montessori Method.
  • What matters is what is learned, rather than what is taught.
  • Learning-with-understanding is an associative process. We comprehend present stimuli mainly on the basis of previously-experienced stimuli.
  • Each student has his own unique wealth of associations to draw upon, to engage and understand what he is being taught. It’s by far the best, to have the student make and draw upon his own associations for what is being learned.
  • We learn more and better through what we ourselves express and gain feedback on than by what we are directly taught (Feeding the Loop.)

When you bring together these considerations, you have modern Socratic Method. When you bring together the various methods your program and other CPS programs have used to get groups of people focused and working creatively together, you have modern Socratic method. You have not only the facilitator, but the participants, encouraging and drawing forth from each other their respective insights, perceptions and ideas. You have not only the facilitator but the participants being Socrates to one another.

Various CPS programs have been trying for sixty years to get creativity practices into schoolroom use. You’ve been offering creativity to schools and teachers because creativity per se is so worthwhile in itself, and because we want our youth and future citizens and scientists to be good at solving problems. School authorities have not been “buying” this: they see “creativity” competing for scarce resources and time in the already-overstretched curriculum. But every one of the successful creativity and CPS techniques you know of and are already practiced in, you can use to profoundly improve and accelerate learning. The methods you offer to schools can MAKE space in the curriculum and not TAKE space there!

Key point: there are now hundreds of different methods for creatively and ingeniously solving problems which are successfully in professional use around the planet. (Some of them originated with Project Renaissance.) EVERY ONE of these can also serve as a profoundly accelerative learning technique!

<< CPS Techniques Index