Creative kids

A couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of working with our Community Development team to run activities for our youth group on the subject of the housing crisis. During three days, they would learn all about the crisis and explore what it means to them in various creative ways, include writing stories, creating poetry bunting, putting themselves in the shoes of Cathy from Cathy Come Home and inventing new super heroes. On the final day, they would see an outdoor theatre version of David Walliam’s Mr Stink.

Day two was where I came in. I’m a member of my organisation’s Creativity Club which uses creative problem solving skills to solve problems for others in the organisation. We spent an afternoon using three of these techniques: boundary examination, reversal and  super heroes and this blog is a little record of what the young people cam e up with them.

Boundary examination involves playing with, exploring and testing the problem definition. The problem I gave the group was ‘How do we solve the housing crisis?’ and this is what hey come up with during the exercise:

How we solve housing crisis
A way Me Fix House Problem
If we can She Answer Home Dilemma
Solving Us Resolve Shelter Issue
Should He Method Flat Obstacle
Could I Crack Bungalow Upset
Can You Make better Mansion Stressful
Must Them Mend Cottage Shortage
Possible Government Problematic Caravan Sadness
If Nigel Mills MP Prevent Tent Annoyed
Successfully The Queen stop Motorhome Drama
Sustainably The Country People Pricey
David Cameron Street Money
They Town

Is it possible that the country could solve the housing crisisSo you can see that by replacing key words in the definition, the nature of the problem and therefore the solution changes, try to solve the mansion shortage is very different to the Queen sustainable resolving the people problem. But I was very impressed by their understanding of how complex the issue is, what the keys features are and how it is probably made up of lots of interconnected problems. As a group we settled on two new problem definitions:

  • Should the housing crisis be fixed

We then moved on to reversal, or as I call it, negative brainstorming. In this exercise we took the problem and went mad thinking up ideas to make it even worse. We then reverse the bad ideas and hopefully they become great solutions! Here are some of the things they came up with:

Negative Positive
A house costs a gazillion pounds Make the world bigger – more places to build houses
We earn £1 a year Build houses out of rubbish
Everyone is on the waiting list Recyclable houses
Crime increases Magically appearing houses
People are scared and go into hiding Houses grow out of the ground
Riots Derelict houses magically transform when you step inside
Move to another country Everyone earns loads
Move to Mars Tree houses
Only one child per family Portable houses
Population dies out Voldemort dies
Food stamps Eco-friendly houses
Nuclear bomb to remove the problem Mobile living
People steal houses Let the crisis solve itself – like evolution
People kill others for their house Money for the homeless
Everyone turns into vampires Houses cost £1
Kill people as they get old Get used to living in another way – small, basic homes
Everyone carries weapons Living in old factories
Rich and poor people swap houses Small houses – straw and wood
Purge the population Free mansions
Take over another country that has room Old people adopt homeless people
Moon crashes into earth Rent out spare rooms
Houses float away House swaps
Ocean full of ships full of people Donate second homes to charity
Aliens invade and take the houses we have left Communal housing
Queen moves abroad Divide large houses into smaller ones
We take over Buckingham Palace Make our island bigger
People kill the Government Floating houses
Lawless state Skyscrapers all the way into space
All trees cut down to build houses, run out of oxygen Tardis houses
Finger nails pulled out if you buy a house Create another realm
Home owners turn into zombies Vacuum packed houses, buy at supermarket
Have to adopt a child if you own a home More money from the Government
Live in bunkers World peace – destroy all bombs
Whole world at war Live at Hogwarts
Voldemort returns David Cameron build the houses
All house blown up Move into no. 10
A protective shield over the countryside Same size houses for everyone
People that pay rent are abducted Move into Parliament
Just one home per family
More homeless shelters – help them find work
House bombs
Join all planets to earth
People live in space
Make money by selling things like bombs
Everyone builds their own house and helps their neighbours
Countries share info on how to solve the housing crisis
Print houses
Use barns for houses
Flat pack houses
Self-building houses
Aliens give us their planet with houses on it
Push a button on a box and it turns into a house

As you can see, some of the ideas were quite ridiculous (some of those are my suggestions!) but that’s the point, creativity is all about wacky ideas, the trick then is to make them useful, then it becomes innovation J

So finally, we pretended to be superheroes and villains and how we could use their powers to tackle our problem. Some of the ideas were:

  • Iron Man could build a gadget that builds houses
  • Iron man is famous so he could promote things for us
  • Black Widow could spy on rich people to see if they have more than one house
  • Black Widow could use her ability to extract information from the Government to see what they plan on doing to solve the housing crisis
  • Spiderman could use his web to drop houses into the right place
  • Antman has a suit that makes him the size of an ant, give everyone this suit so they would need smaller places to live
  • Antman is strong, he can hold ten times his weight, he can build more houses
  • Magneto could scare the Government into building more houses
  • Magneto could collect all the metal and build houses from it
  • Poison Ivy could grow houses from nature
  • Joker could hold the Government to ransom to build more houses
  • Batman has morals (this is possibly my favourite!)
  • Batman could make criminals build houses

We then had a go at creating our own housing superheroes:

  • Hot Head – makes bricks in his belly, can dry cement super fast, fast hands and feet
  • House Girl – has a belt that shoots out houses
  • Magic house hands – shoots out houses from their finger tips
  • Captain housing woman – can turn anything into a house, destroys bad houses

It was a really good few days, and we had a great time at Mr Stink, even though it poured it down for half an hour, the story had some really good messages in it about homeless people. Lots of the above ideas are completely bonkers but hopefully, like me, you can see some a hint of something that could work within the craziness! Young people are definitely an untapped resource with a completely different perspective on the world and we will certainly be doing more sessions like these. I’m also hoping to run a Creativity Club session on how we respond to that Channel 4 news report, I think we’ll need some super powers if we’re going to crack that nut!



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