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Brainstorming. Gathering Ideas - How to Write/Speak/Think - How to Learn

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(Notes taken and adapted from Wikipedia external link by your teacher; check it out anyway if you want to find examples)

Brainstorming is a creativity technique of generating ideas to solve a problem. It was originated in 1953 in a book called Applied Imagination by Alex F. Osborn, an advertising executive.

Brainstorming can be done either individually or in a group. The key to brainstorming is to not interrupt the thought process. In group brainstorming, the participants - sitting looking at each other - are encouraged to share their ideas with one another as soon as they are generated; there is a facilitator of the session (see roles in Discussions), and ideas are jotted down in a flip chart or a blackboard. The room is free of telephones, clocks, or any other distractions.

In order to enhance creativity a brainstorm session has four basic rules:

Quantity breeds quality: the greater the number of ideas generated, the greater the chance of producing original ideas, effective solutions, interesting texts... An individual may revisit a brainstorm, and approach it with a slightly new perspective, and repeat this process without limit.

No criticism (at this point!): here criticism should be put 'on hold'. Instead of immediately stating what might be wrong with an idea, the participants focus on extending or adding to it, reserving criticism for a later. By suspending judgment, you create a supportive atmosphere where participants feel free to generate unusual ideas. However, respectful criticism of ideas by a minority dissenter can reduce groupthink (process whereby consciously or unconsciously people conform to what they perceive to be the consensus of the group), leading to more and better ideas.

Unusual ideas are welcome: to get a good and long list of ideas so later you have a lot to choose from or so your ideas grow richer, unusual ideas are welcomed. They may open new ways of thinking and provide better solutions than regular ideas. They can be generated by looking from another perspective or setting aside assumptions. A "wild" idea can be the inspiration for a more appropriate idea later on.

Combine and improve ideas: Good ideas can be combined to form a very good idea, as suggested by the slogan "1+1=3". Also, existing ideas can be improved. If without brainstorming you get 3 good ideas for an essay, why not brainstorm a bit and see if you can enrich that somehow? This approach leads to better and more complete ideas than just generation of new ideas, and increases the generation of ideas, by a process of association.

Notes on Brainstorming worddoc (1 page) by Rebeca (Y5C, 06-07)

More on Brainstorming external link Another link external link

Related Links

How to Learn
Having Ideas & Organizing them (< How to Write 2 < Writing)
Expressing ideas effectively: Approach (helps having ideas < How to Write 3 < Writing)
SKills - Speaking - An Example of Brainstorming on Topics for Speaking Tests