Creative Thinking: Fluency

Fluency is one of the cornerstones of creative thinking. It refers to generating a lot of ideas as they come to you, without evaluating them. Rather, just allow the ideas to flow, and you can go back and evaluate them later. Fluency is a great creative thinking skill to practice with your students in a classroom setting, and provide some guidelines and examples for doing that.

Fluency, flexibility, originality, and elaboration can be thought of as the cornerstones of creative thinking. Fluency is all about generating a lot of different ideas. It is a valuable skill to practice because when you have many different ideas, you have more options and are therefore more likely to find more viable solutions to your problem. In addition, often one idea leads to another, so by generating many ideas, you are allowing that process to flow naturally.

Some guidelines for practicing fluency:

  • Write down your ideas as you come up with them.
  • Lists are great, but a web/map format can also work.
  • Write fast, idea after idea after idea.
  • Fluency is about generating ideas, not about evaluating them. An idea that seems stupid could contain the seed of something worthwhile.
  • Working in a group can be valuable, as people often springboard off of other people’s ideas.

Some ideas for practicing fluency with children:

  • Generate many different uses for common items, such as a pencil, a ruler, or a paper towel tube.
  • Generate synonyms for common words or phrases, such as, “Good job.”
  • Generate many different ways to arrange the desks in the classroom (draw pictures).
  • Generate names for a classroom pet, a team, or alternative titles to a book.
  • Generate ideas for a class party.
  • Generate questions about a given topic. This works well at the start of a social studies or science unit.
  • Generate solutions to a reoccurring classroom problem. For example, the noise level is too high during work times, or students are feeling that they are not treated fairly during foursquare games at recess.
  • Generate solutions to a regional or world issue, such as poverty or global warming.
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