Why playdough, legos, or lincoln logs?

I had the privilege of visiting the Amazon facility in San Luis Obispo last Friday and was pleased by the emphasis placed on creative thinking that permeated throughout the organization. From the colorful walls to the unique construction of each person’s desk, I was impressed that a company designed to package and ship stuff would believe that creative space is a key to success. One wall in a hallway was covered with lego plates smeared with a host of unique contraptions and structures. It was a thinking wall!  Inventiveness is birthed in an environment that allows a mind to explore, experiment, dabble, play, risk, and fail. Playdough, legos, or lincoln logs aren’t just toys to pass the time; they provide a tool for the imagination and the development of essential critical thinking and reasoning skills for our future inventors, entrepreneurs, and engineers.

According to Tony Wagner, in his book Creating Innovators, there are three super “p’s” that are ingredients to creating our next generation of great American innovators – Play, Passion, and Purpose. When we allow our children to use playful imagination, discover their personal passion, and provide purpose in creative endeavours, we fertilize the next generation of innovators. Innovation can be found within each of our heart, mind, body, or soul passions. Whether we are writing a poem to a sweetheart, calculating in a spreadsheet, experimenting with a 3d printer, or beating on a drum, innovative thinking produces the wonder and awe of life.   Let’s reinvigorate our enthusiasm this week by saying “yes” to the inventive ideas of our children and never robbing them from Eureka! moments.

“It does seem to produce more creative results when there are limitations. It’s like in wartime with rations – people became more inventive with cooking.”  – Laura Fraser

“Imagination is the highest kite one can fly.” – Lauren Bacall

“You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.” – Mark Twain

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