Wouldn’t it be fun it we all had our own crystal ball? Foreseeing predictions of the future? We realize this not knowing “what’s coming next” is a prevalent theme song in our students lives. So we continually ask ourselves, “How can we prepare our students for unexpected life challenges and problems?” No one wakes up as says, “Boy, today I hope I get a really big problem to solve!” Instead, a day of  “smooth sailing” is what we really crave. 

Against All Odds

On January 15, 2009, veteran US Airways pilots Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger and First Officer Jeffery Skiles took off with 155 passengers and crew. Just three minutes into the flight, disaster struck when the plane hit a flock of Canada geese, disabling both engines. Without engine power, Sully landed the airliner on the frigid waters of the Hudson River. Against immeasurable odds! All on board were saved! Click on the picture to see the movie trailer.

Movie trailer link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mjKEXxO2KNE

In hindsight, everyone realized Captain Sullenberger performed the best possible action under the circumstances. He saved lives while proving that even the best training can’t prepare one for every scenario in life. In the real world everything can change at a moments notice. Here’s a favorite quotation from one of the posters in Patti’s classroom.

“In the Book of Life the answers are not in the back.” ~ Charlie Brown

Creative Behaviors

The ability to look at one thing and think of something new or different is a behavior of highly creative individual. And everyone is born with varying degrees of creative talent. Just like all other talents. We all get our own dose! You care about your students. You know their futures depend on learning how to be agile problem-solvers with creative ideas. Here’s one thing you can do. Start by giving them daily practice in developing their creative thinking skills.

For Your Classroom

The Pass Around Activity: Begin by selecting a flexible object: pipe cleaner, necktie, bandana, etc. Form small groups of six to eight students. Take turns quickly passing around the object from student to student for 90 seconds. Each group should try to pass the object around three or four times. Each student should share an idea for what the object could “creatively” become. For example, if you are using a pipe cleaner, they would say, “This is not a pipe cleaner, it is a _______.” 

Some creative answers might include: a spoon to stir the soup, a stick of firewood, a mustache, a giant’s toothpick, a diving board for an ant’s swimming pool, an earring, etc. Students may say “Skip” to skip a turn if they cant think of an answer. Ask students to notice how quickly the entire class generated lots of ideas (Fluency) and many different ideas (Flexibility). Now they have started to work on two very important skillsets of creativity!

If time permits, you can extend this activity by having students share an idea they found to be the most interesting or unusual. When one student shares, ask the class if anyone else came up with the same idea. Usually you will soon hear an idea that only one student generated. Tell students this is an example of producing unique ideas (Originality) . . . skillset #3!

In as little as 90 seconds a day, using creative thinking activities like The Pass Around can enhance your students’ flexible thinking by opening their minds to new ideas, possibilities, and solutions. Just maybe, Sully had a creative teacher in school who did this activity with his class!

“This is  not a river . . .  it’s a runway!” ~ Captain, Sully

Let’s Reflect and Remember . . .

  • Everyone’s capacity for creative thinking and living can be enhanced. 
  • Tools can be learned and practiced to increase fluent, flexible, and original thinking.
  • Having a “prepared mind” might someday serve one well in a future no one can foresee.
  • And ALL this can begin by practicing creative thinking (in as little as 90 seconds a day)!

“Le hazard favorise l’esprit prepare.” (Chance favors the prepared mind.)

~ Louis Pasteur

Live, learn, and lead creatively.

Rick and Patti