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The ABCs of Creativity: Question

child on shoreline

When you were young, you probably asked a lot of questions: Why is the sky blue? Where do babies come from? Why do I have to eat broccoli? Why do bees buzz? Why? Why? But why?

And you were probably met with: Because I said so. Because they do. Because it is. I don’t know. Be quiet. Shut up. Children are best seen and not heard. Stop asking questions. Now is not the time…

It didn’t get better in school – a place you were supposed to be to learn things. Unfortunately, many of the things you were supposed to learn were what the teacher wanted to teach you or, if you were really unlucky, what was required by standardized testing and curriculum. There was a right answer, and it was whatever the teacher said it was. There was no room for deviation or questioning. The best pupils were quiet and accepted what they were told. Questions were unwelcomed because they took time away from the subject at hand and caused other students to question what they were learning, which caused confusion for the less inquisitive.

But ultimately, questioning is a good thing as long as the questions are asked with an honest intent to learn and understand. Questions like “How does a burr attach to clothes?” “How do I improve shoes for athletes?” and “Why isn’t there a place for adults and children to have fun?” have led to multi-billion-dollar companies. Questioning improves creativity through its ability to spark deeper thinking.

The question “Why?” is powerful, but you’ll still be met with resistance. “Why” is often seen as threatening and accusing. Many people will respond with “because it’s always been done that way.” “Why not?” can be just as powerful because it can free you to try something new.

With the Internet, you should be able to find out the answers to many questions, but that’s not enough for creativity. You must make sure the information is accurate and that you didn’t just accept it because of confirmation bias. Then you must assimilate the information and allow it to change your behavior and thoughts. Learning from your questions is only part of becoming more creative, but it’s an important part.

For more on creativity, order “Disneyland Is Creativity.” Get “Penguinate! Essays and Short Stories.” Preorder “The Haunted Mansion Is Creativity.” Read how the Internet affected Cathy Cooke’s creativity.

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