Updated: Feb 7
Developing a product can be a very introverted process as we concentrate on elements of what we are creating in extremely fine detail, so it’s great to get a chance to take one of our techniques out on the road to show people what it can do. Last week we took QWERTY® to the Big Family Weekend organised by Potential Plus UK at the Ken Stimpson Community School in Peterborough.
QWERTY® is our staged thinking process that is at the very heart of all we do. It is a framework or scaffolding to support thinking. It helps with everything from the ‘blank page’ moment when you’ve been given a task and have no idea where to start to the ‘too many ideas’ end of the spectrum, where you have so many different ideas competing for attention that it can seem impossible to choose between them, in order to actually start what you have to do.
From a parental perspective (quite apart from the fact we can use the technique very successfully for our own tasks!), it gives us a window onto our children’s thinking processes, helping us see what elements they find easy and hard (so we can support them better) and identify what they have understood.
We did four sessions in total – two creative thinking workshops with children aged 8-12 and two parental seminars.
They all went down exceptionally well – proof being in the evaluation sheets, the comments made directly to us by participants and even the kids’ excited chattering about the workshops in earshot of our Guinea-Pig-in-Chief (our daughter, for the uninitiated).
The children’s workshops, called Quirky QWERTY®, were great fun. The youngsters had three creative choices to make: would they conjure up a fantasy holiday resort, devise an imaginary animal or take a voyage through space or time?
We introduced them to our QWERTY® staged thinking technique, taking them through its six stages. It helped them come up with some amazing creations, from one animal that had a goat’s body, and three heads (one a dragon, two snakes) with cloud feet that flies on a large piece of paper (when it’s not teleporting) to a spacecraft whizzing between two black holes.
It was fascinating to see the way the children blended very sophisticated general knowledge (e.g. the black hole idea got very detailed feedback from other participants!) with boundless imagination. For instance, one creature only had one huge eye – it didn’t need ears or a nose because they would be useless where it lived, due to the total absence of atmosphere.
We had seen for ourselves how engaged the children were throughout the workshop, but we were still thrilled to see them put so many smiley faces on the evaluation form at the end.
The adult seminars were very different from the children’s workshops, although still based on QWERTY®. We talked them through the technique with lots of practical examples on how to use it effectively and shared with them how QWERTY® could enhance their children’s creativity, increase their engagement with tasks and, by getting them to add more connections or ‘hooks’ to what they were doing, help them memorise a subject better.
As well as QWERTY®, we introduced them to some of the aids we call Forget-Me-Nots. For instance, we showed them how they could use MORE (Memory, Observation, Research, Enquiry) to generate lots more ideas in the early stages and others that help them fine-tune those ideas to make them much more viable.
We allowed plenty of time for Q&A, so that we could delve deeper in the areas that interested them most.
We were delighted to see the evaluation forms afterwards with loads of ticks at the ‘excellent’ end of the spectrum and comments like “Great content. Thought provoking” and “There were some fantastic ideas I am looking forward to putting into practice”.