My fifth grade teacher always used to tell us to “put on our thinking caps” whenever there was a tough problem to solve or we were working on a project that required lots of brainstorming and creativity. I always liked the visual image that this phrase envoked (although my thinking cap doesn’t look like the one in the picture…it’s green and looks more like a beanie), and for whatever reason I still think of it whenever I’ve got a difficult problem to solve.
So readers, dust off your thinking caps, put them on….and keep reading….
We facilitated our second training for the Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG) program yesterday. The JAG program in Indianapolis is hosted by two companies, Goodwill Industries and Transition Resources. Together they cover many schools in the greater Indianapolis area. JAG provides juniors and seniors with career education and training and also includes a student-led civic engagement component. We provided the JAG teachers with some youth development training (last month) and civic engagement and student-led project training (yesterday).
We love creating and facilitating trainings, but we approach trainings slightly differently than many organizations. We believe that the best training is one where the participants not only learn something new but where they leave with concrete strategies and a plan to try some of the strategies in a creative way. In other words, we encourage critical thought.
It’s surprising how many training participants have difficulty with critical thinking. It seems as though corporate culture has completely stifled creativity and in turn has eliminated the need to think critically or creatively.
We were so excited yesterday when our JAG teachers put all the skills and strategies they had learned in our two trainings together and came up with some truly amazing and inspiring ideas (all rooted in youth development principles, yay!). They found their thinking caps, put them on, and completely rocked! They not only broke the creativity barrier, but they also found out how exciting and inspiring it is to be in a room full of critical thinkers.
My challenge to all nonprofits is this–create and foster an environment where creativity, critical thinking, and problem solving skills are valued. Nonprofits are under increasing pressure to do more work with fewer resources and the only way to survive is for us to put on our thinking caps and get creative.