Spark Central Inspires Tomorrow's Creative Thinkers

If you are like me, you remember Apple’s brilliant “Think Different” campaign. I still love the images of game-changers like Amelia Earhart, Albert Einstein, Gandhi, and Pablo Picasso inspiring us to think different(ly) and challenge the status quo of what we consider possible.

Images from Apple's early Think Different campaign.

Images from Apple's early Think Different campaign.

Apple’s “Think Different” campaign holds up these incredible human beings because (as the original television ad says), "they change things. They push the human race forward…Because the people crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.”

Sadly, not everyone gets this kind of encouragement, or worse, have been taught that they are not innovative or that their “crazy” ideas are not valuable. 

For youth, state-mandated high-stakes test prep comes at a steep cost to teaching out-of-the-box creative thinking. Many extracurricular programs that foster such innovation are “pay-to-play,” so under-resourced youth miss out on chances to flex their creative muscles. This creates an inequitable opportunity gap that can impact young lives for years to come.

For adults, the problem can just as acute. Outside of the college degree system, few educational opportunities exist that grow the creative problem-solving skills critical for success in today’s creative economy, not to mention the confidence needed to change one’s own life and the world.

That’s where Spark Central comes in. Unlike other nonprofits and learning institutions, we strive to teach the actual skills of creativity, innovation, and imagination because they are the secret sauce to thinking differently, forging new paths, and leaving an impact on the world.

A recent CNN article by Mark Tutton (shared on our blog by another team member) debunks the myth that creative thinking cannot be taught. In fact, it suggests that creativity is 80% taught.

According to the article, at least five teachable "think different" skills exist that Steve Jobs and other history-makers are known for:

Associating: The ability to connect seemingly unrelated questions, problems or ideas from different fields. 

Questioning: Innovators constantly ask questions that challenge the common wisdom. They ask "why?", "why not?" and "what if?" 

Observing: Discovery-driven executives scrutinize common phenomena, particularly the behavior of potential customers. 

Experimenting: Innovative entrepreneurs actively try out new ideas by creating prototypes and launching pilots. 

Networking: innovators go out of their way to meet people with different ideas and perspectives. 

Too often, we get hung up on hard skills, degree programs, and high-tech tools and forget that throughout history, is has been the individual—their creativity, innovation, and imagination—that changes the world. As the William Blake quote on my refrigerator says, “What is now proved was once only imagined.”

Many people associate Spark Central with teaching arts, technology, and literacy, but in actuality, Spark Central inspires youth, teens, and adults of all backgrounds to think differently—to develop the creativity, innovation, and imagination (and the confidence!) to forge new paths for themselves and for their community. 

Here's to everyone thinking differently.