Updated: Mar 31, 2021
This next Creativity Tip is to encourage students to think about using constraints to help them innovate.
There is a misconception that constraints are inherently negative and any solution that is created within them is going to fall short of a solution without them.
This is not necessarily the case.
If you are presenting your students with a challenge, say for example, they are tasked with writing a poem, the constraints could be that every line must start with the letter of their name. Or, perhaps students must paint a still life only using hues of blue.
Consider Pablo Picasso's Blue Period (Spanish: Período Azul) that lasted from 1901 and 1904 when he painted essentially monochromatic paintings in shades of blue and blue-green. This movement was prompted by the death of Picasso's friend, so this chroma constraint may have been led by melancholy, however it offers up an interesting way to use a constraint as a conduit for creativity. You can view some of Picasso's paintings from his Blue Period here.
The constraint can be perceived as a benefit because the students are forced to look at the challenge in a new way and the result/solution will be quite different from what they would have created without the constraint.
Thinking in this way can help students develop resilience. This is because when we view constraints not as a black swan but as an interesting curve ball that could result in innovation, we are able to adjust our thinking rather than catastrophise believing that the constraint is an absolute unmitigated disaster. The speed with which we throw in the towel is much reduced when we embrace rather than repel constraints.
Here are some constraints that you could present to your students in the event that they are designing a solution:
The solution must not cost any money/only £100/only £1000/only £1 million.
The solution must not involve adults.
The solution must be delivered within 7 days/within 3 months...
The solution must not involve technology.
The solution must not involve the government.
The solution must be controversial.
The solution must be attractive to people aged 14-17.
The solution must be small enough to fit into a pocket.
The solution must not weigh more than 2kg.
The solution must be sustainable.
The solution must only use renewable energy.
The solution must involve an ethical supply chain.
View Tip #1 here