Many young people are either turning away from school entirely or choosing institutions that can offer practical, hands-on education. It is becoming a common practice in Europe among Universities of Applied Sciences, whilst in USA a school like Northeastern University has embedded experiential learning as a part of their study program. Any school that offers experiential learning is booming. Average US college student graduates the $28,950 worth of student debt without valuable working experience, therefore opportunity to study and get actual working experience is very attractive. The trend of experiential learning is disrupting education.

It is well known that our physiology can affect our psychology.  If our posture is more positive then our thinking is more positive.  Researchers Slepian and Ambady report an experiment in the Journal of Experimental Psychology.  They had some subjects move their arms in big fluid movements and other subjects moved their arms in short, precise movements.  Then everyone took a creativity test.  The people in the first group with the fluid movements scored 24% higher in their creativity scores.

So before your next idea generation session try this gestures exercise.  Get everyone to stand up and move away from each other.  They then make gestures following your instructions:

  1. “We will be open to ideas.”  Everyone raises their arms and gathers them in as though receiving large bundles.
  2. “We want big ideas.” People stretch out their arms as far as they can.
  3.  “We want many ideas.” People wave their arms around.
  4.  “We want funny ideas.”  Everyone laughs out loud.
  5.  “We want wild ideas.”  People show their wildest expressions.
  6.  ” We will break the rules.”  People mime snapping a long stick.
  7.  ” We will look in different directions.”  Everyone stares at the front of the room, then everyone turns to view the left side, the right side and then the back of the room.
  8.  “Thank you.  Please sit down.”

This little icebreaker should be short, energetic and fun.  It will raise energy levels and affect how people think and behave.  You can refer back to it later as you run the brainstorm sessions.  You can use the gestures as you encourage people to be open to ideas or look in fresh directions.  I am sure that you will get more and better ideas.