Why I No Longer Use Groups in the Classroom
A recent New Yorker article entitled " Groupthink " takes a fascinating look at the concept of brainstorming. According to author Jonah Lehrer, brainstorming was introduced in the late 1940s as a creativity-inducing practice by advertising guru Alex Osborn in his book Your Creative Power . The book was a surprise bestseller, and Osborn’s ideas about brainstorming, according to Lehrer, became "the most widely used creativity technique in the world." Whether in business, politics, entertainment, or education, group-thinking was and still is regarded as the ultimate path to ingenuity and productivity.
One small problem: Numerous studies over the years have demonstrated that brainstorming doesn’t work, at least not as Osborn defined it. Lehrer quotes Washington University psychologist Keith Sawyer: "Decades of research have consistently shown that brainstorming groups think of far fewer ideas than the same number of people who work alone and later pool their ideas."
Sawyer’s statement supports the assertion that brainstorming is not all it’s cracked up to be, but I am more intrigued by the second half of the quote from Sawyer—the part about how working alone and then coming together to pool ideas...
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