Using instant gratification in search of a creative solution
Are our children in search of instant gratification?
Being gratified by something is a good feeling.
Those natural high’s we experience are a result of a neurotransmitter called Dopamine being activated. It encourages us to keep going and to do something over again.
The answer to this question is yes, but it is not confined to children. It is a biological phenomena that keeps us moving forward if we use it correctly.
Instant gratification becomes a habit
The reason a task provides instant gratification and becomes a habit (good or bad) is because it ticks four things which James Clear describes in his book Atomic Habits.
A teenager is given an assignment or some homework and they internet search the answer, write it up and hand it in. Task completed!
The habit of completing the homework using Google is therefore:
Obvious – Everyone has heard of it as a source of information and is accessible on everyone’s computer
Attractive – Chances are they will be able to find credible information that they can use
Easy – The search is super fast and the algorithms are getting super intuitive at understanding what they want
Satisfying – They got the results the teacher was looking for
Understandably children are asking “Why do we need to remember all this stuff anyway when we can just Google it?” and “Why do we need to go anywhere else?”
Using the habit to help us remember stuff from school
School is one of the few places that we are required to commit information to short term memory. Beyond school, at home, in the workplace, travelling etc we can draw upon external sources of information to solve our problems.
The external sources can be the internet, books, friends or podcasts for example. School is different because we have set up a system of assessment to measure progress. The system of assessment comprises exams. Exams require us to recall information in our short term memory.
But if this information is going to be valuable to us beyond school then we need to understand ‘why’ and ‘how’ it is useful. If we do, it will help us remember it and be able to draw upon it when we need it to solve problems throughout our life.
How to leverage instant gratification to develop creative thinking
Why not use that instant gratification as a way to continue the creative and critical thinking process?
Creativity starts with a problem.
If the homework or the assignment appears boring or irrelevant let us ask ourselves the following question before we dismiss it and go straight for the Google answer.
“Why do I need to learn this stuff?”
When we have context we are more likely to commit it to memory. So let us answer this question in order to answer the homework.
Now we have our problem – “Why do I need to learn this stuff?”
From here the creative process starts: Saturate, Percolate, Create, Celebrate, Rejuvenate.
For the purposes of this article we are just going to concentrate on Saturating ourselves with knowledge.
At this Stage, we can begin to leverage the habit of Googling.
Start creative thinking from three sources
Rather than internet search the topic of the assignment, instead research “Why do I need to know X.”
Start with the easy habit. Leverage it to get the process of research a little further so we can understand why we need to know the information and complete the task we have been given.
- Ask a Search Engine “Why do I need to know…” + Research. By adding the word research into your search criteria you add a level of evidence based information to your answer. Go beyond Page 1 to Page 2. Finally press the Image link to see how people have visually displayed the answer to your question, Why do I need to know this stuff.
- Ask Someone Else – in particular someone’s opinion you value and trust. That could be parents, teacher’s, family members, friends, or someone they don’t know but respect.
- Find an App – an app that uses the information you are expected to learn to solve a problem or solves the problem itself.
Of course you can replace number 3. with a podcast or a book, but I like Apps/Software as a simple example because it demonstrates how the information is relevant in the world.
These three steps can take 30 minutes or they can take 30 days. It depends upon our timeframe for completing the original task/homework/assignment.
This way we can turn what appears to be a bad habit into a good habit that will serve us well in our lives beyond school.
The short and long term benefits
- We are more likely to commit it to memory because the information now has context
- We are going to submit more interesting work, which ideally results in better grades
- We are more competent which then contributes to our confidence
- If the homework seems pointless leverage the Google search to answer “Why do I need to learn X?”
- Use the habit of the internet search to start the process so they get that hit of dopamine early on. This will encourage them to continue.
- Saturate with three (3) pieces of new knowledge to answer why you need to know your homework question.
With this we are well on our way to #Creating something unique we can be proud of.
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