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Playing it Forward with Creative Thinking

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playing it forwardWe’ve all heard the phrase “pay it forward”, which has become a popular way to encourage folks to do good things for others in the hope that they will in turn do something good for someone else, and thereby pay the good deed forward. While not a new concept, it’s one that certainly benefits the greater good.

Creative thinking is another way to pay it forward, in my view. I like to think of creativity as a way of playing it forward. By changing pay to play I refer to the playfulness needed in creativity. When we are creative, we have a playfulness of mind; we put unusual concepts together or see things in different and unusual ways. We usually associate playfulness with children, humor, and lightheartedness. But, knowing the importance of playfulness to creativity, as adults we should be interested in developing and capturing playfulness in all areas of our lives so that we can have a ready store of ideas, concepts, and variables with which to be creative. Gifted children have great potential for being highly creative as they are able to hold many potentially conflicting concepts in abeyance at once and as they often have great senses of humor. They can manipulate ideas and relationships to create new ideas and new relationships, both important in creative thinking and problem solving.

In the process of creative problem solving, we are all playing it forward. We are using our playfulness of mind to create solutions, improvements, and new ideas to improve and enhance people’s lives around the globe. These types of benefits indeed do also “pay it forward” and have the potential to reach larger audiences than do most singular paying it forward actions. Playing it forward also satisfies gifted students’ need to fulfill the moral imperative that many of them feel to improve the global situation.

Let’s all take a moment today to brainstorm how we might think creatively, using our playful minds, to pay it forward in our personal or professional lives. If you work with gifted children, be sure to provide lots of opportunity for them to engage in creative inquiry and inventive exploration so that they will eventually play it forward for others. If you have ways you have encouraged students to be creative in ways that help others, please do share with us so that we might pay and play your ideas forward as well.

All the best,

Barbara Swicord, Ed.D.
CEO, National Society for the Gifted and Talented (NSGT)
President, Summer Institute for the Gifted (SIG)

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