What is Brainstorming?

The term “brainstorming” is a term I first heard a long time ago. English teachers have utilized this term to represent coming up with ideas. The purpose was to write down as many ideas that you could possibly think of in a short period of time. Once this was accomplished, collaboration of other student ideas would form a topic. It is not odd to think that the terms collaboration and brainstorming be mentioned in the same breath. I think in terms of conflict, that collaboration and brainstorming are important parts of reaching a middle ground. Both terms deal with sharing. We all know that sharing means caring.

The concept of brainstorming refers to sharing possible solutions. All parties involved in the conflict then see these solutions. It is also an opportunity to evaluate the solutions. This concept allows for creativity, levity, change, and it allows traditional behavior and thoughts to look beyond conventional assumptions. Brainstorming involves three important parts. Idea generation is the first part. This part is probably the most well received because is allows creativity. The purpose in this part is to elude judgment and bias. There are no titles in this segment. Everyone involved is playing on the same level ground and no idea is better than any other offered. The next part is to evaluate the idea. The purpose of this step is to be realistic. The player’s involved need to come to terms with what ideas can actually happen. They need to evaluate if the idea can work. They need to evaluate if the idea can possibly become a reality. The final step in brainstorming is to choose a solution. The players need to create a condensed version of the original list of ideas. The purpose of this step is to draw from all ideas to form better ones. The outcome should meet all criteria and it should serve both parties to the best of its’ ability. Once this final step is achieved the ideas now become a solution, and the solution becomes closer to becoming a written document.

I think brainstorming is a great asset. It creates an open forum. This forum generates ideas and it also generates realistic solutions. I teach students how to write stories. My students have a hard time creating their own stories. The way that I generate ideas for them is to think of two different people. I try not to think of “good” versus “evil” because they usually think about movies. However, once they have chosen two different people, I tell them to think about a problem, or a conflict. What is their conflict? What makes these two people disagree or not get along? This usually helps pull ideas from my students. It is interesting to think that the concept of brainstorming and conflict are used in my classroom.

Therefore, brainstorming is very important in resolving conflict. It is very important because it shows all realistic ideas. I have always distanced myself from people who talk about solutions but don’t plan on changing to reach these solutions. For example, there is a teacher in my building by the name of Jim. Behind his back the faculty refers to him as “Hurricane Jim” because when he enters a room all he does is talk. When you are near him you don’t have a conversation with him because he will not allow you the opportunity to talk. Needless to say, Jim is not a very good listener. Also, he does not have many friends at South Junior High School. All he does is complain. He is never realistic about his solutions. If it were up to him, he would allow students to drop out of school at any age! Jim had a conflict with one of his colleagues. One teacher was planning a field trip to the new local library. The city had recently built a brand new library. The library was enormous! It cost over 3 million dollars! The teacher wanted to bring the entire seventh grade to the library. The intention was for the students to experience the new library, sign up for a library card, and to learn how to do research on an upcoming “National History Day” project. The conflict is that Jim is the history teacher for the seventh grade. He hated the idea. He made comments like “the students don’t care about a new library”, “they won’t even go back afterwards”, and “I would have spent the 3 million to build a prison so the kids could see their future”! Jim wanted nothing to do with this venture and even said he would not go. His colleagues were upset, but not surprised.

The team of teachers began brainstorming ideas to make this field trip work without him. The “Science Fair” projects weren’t due until May so the idea of using the library as a Science resource wasn’t realistic. The team brainstormed ideas and decided collectively that Jim was out of the picture and that another history teacher could replace him. Thus the idea of collaboration was becoming evident. Once again, the use of collaboration and brainstorming go together.

The teachers decided to utilize the services of an eighth grade history teacher. This teacher loved the idea of going to the new library. Jim continued his tirade of negative comments. The team of teachers entered the idea that Jim might have a conflict with this idea. They knew him well enough that he could not see the good in anything. They collaborated with another teacher to gain a realistic solution to their problem. If my students were writing about good versus evil, I’m sure it would be easy to cast Jim in black. The teachers were ready for the conflict. They brainstormed and came up with a realistic idea to collaborate with a different teacher. The teachers felt this would create the best outcome.

Oddly enough, the library decided to use this field trip as a selling point. The local newspapers were contacted and the editors decided to do a front-page story of the field trip to advertise the new library. The mayor got word of the field trip and decided to attend the field trip in order to optimize a great photo opportunity within the educational community. Additionally, the superintendent questioned why Jim was not going? Jim changed his tune rather quickly. However, he had already been replaced. Jim was acquiring “athletes tongue” from sticking his foot in his mouth so many times. The team of teachers decided to allow Jim to help the teacher that replaced him. Jim was very quiet on that day.

The teachers were faced with a conflict. How were they to present a history project without the history teacher? Through brainstorming which created the idea for collaboration, the conflict was resolved quickly. The field trip proved to be a wonderful success. The front page detailed the trip and all of the teachers were mentioned except Jim. Hopefully Jim learned a lesson himself. It is hard to teach an old dog a new trick. The mayor smiled from numerous pictures and made the comments (positive) that Jim should have been saying from the outlet. The students loved the field trip and were surprised that the city of Brockton had such a great library! The library had over 100 new library card issuers that day, and all conflict was erased. Perhaps this is a good story of how good defeated evil? Conflicts surface all the time. That is life. Life can be a conflict. However, if we work together to find a solution anything can be accomplished, even shutting Jim up!

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