Whenever I think of the phrase “follow the white rabbit,” I envision the cryptic message Neo received before he discovered the Matrix. The whole Matrix trilogy (the first being my favorite by far) is a fantastic exploration into the human plight and a true hero’s quest for the ultimate elixir.

Exploration. Quest. Elixir.

If we were honest with ourselves, I would go so far to say that storyline is something we experience every day, from the mundane to the extraordinary. “What are we doing today?” is a question that I have repeatedly heard from my students, from my children, even from my husband. As teachers, and I have been guilty of this, we look to our lesson plans and consider this to be the exploration and quest of the day, with the elixir being, the students will learn what we want them to. Sadly, this storyline has a predictable ending, typically filled with pre-scripted/pre-organized projects, probably some worksheets, maybe an experiment or two, some organized group work, but very little inquiry into the deeper things of our hearts. No white rabbits.

That’s why I absolutely love (and encourage) Creative Problem Solving in the classroom. As an educator, I have learned much from reading and grad school classes about the CPS model. But for me, that was just the starting point. Yes, it certainly provides a solid framework from which to operate, but I’m not one to follow anything “by the book,” (I love white rabbits), so I glean from several resources that have been great influences on my thinking.  I follow all of them on Twitter. Wish I could hang out with them, too.

CPS Model (basics)
Michael Michalko (guru)
Creative Live (workshops)
99U (“Insights on Making Things Happen”)
HIVE NYC (Education Think Tank)
Creativity Post  (“Quality Content on Creativity, Imagination, Innovation)
Creative Time (New York and Art and collaboration around the world)
Fast Company Design
Fast Company Create

Using CPS has ignited many ideas, collaborations and opportunities for my students– an anti-bullying workshop, a food waste campaign, even a hat business–all stemming from creative problem solving challenges. Sometimes, for a brain warm-up, I will give my students an every day object and have them generate a list of at least 30 other uses for it.

As I reflect on my own personal every day, I have to frequently, if not, consistently, creatively problem solve, be it making dinner out of what is in the refrigerator to designing a furniture set-up in an awkward room to finding the story from raw video footage. Creative problem solving should be a part of every child’s learning environment. It is a non-negotiable.

So Follow the White Rabbit!!Alice-white-rabbit

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