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Teaching people to become creative thinkers

Người viết: VNS

More than 2,000 people attended a conference on creative thinking in Singapore, with guests including renowed international intellectuals such as Howard Gardner and Dr. Edward de Bono. Vi?t Nam had only one participant the director of the Centre for Scientific and Technical Creativity in HCM City Professor Doctor Phan D?ng.

Vi?t Nam Newss reporter Minh Huy interviewed Professor Phan D?ng about the conference and its applicability for Asian education.

Q: Last year, you lectured at international seminars and symposiums on education and creative thinking in the Netherlands, Thailand and Malaysia. How did the 7th International Conference on Creative Thinking in Singapore compare?

A: While the European Conference was more professional, the Singaporean conference was on a larger scale and it was the first time that a conference solely on creative thinking was held in Asia. It was given official patronage by Singaporean President Ong Cheng Tong and by Premier Goh Chok Tong who delivered a 30-minute speech. Our ambassador Nguy?n ??c Hng was also present at the conference.

Secondly, the Singaporean conference explored many themes in creative thinking, from the abstract to practical and covered topics like mathematics, the study of foreign languages and straight physics.

There was also much diversity in the methods and schools of creative thinking introduced at the conference.

Thirdly I can sense an overall increasing interest in creative thinking.

This interest comes not only from academics but the general public as well. In some countries, especially our neighbors Malaysia and Singapore, this interest is brought to a national level, materialised by concrete relevant policies and works.

Finally, as a teacher and researcher, I begin to feel "dizzy" before the rocketing amount of information related to creative thinking and heuristics (the system of learning where the student is trained to find out things for her or himself) displayed at the latest conference.

Q: What was your report at the conference?

A: My report was called "Dialectical System Thinking for Problem Solving and Decision Making." I introduced the outline of the "Theory of Inventive Problem Solving" which has a Russian acronym of TRIZ. The report also included the results of our research and teaching over the past 20 years in Vi?t Nam and what prospects it has in the future.

Q: What are those prospects?

A: The future of creatology in Vi?t Nam depends on how and how far the science attracts interest. Already theres a greater awareness here in information technology, and maybe that interest can spread to the study of creative thinking processes.

Our 20 years of training and research has had to survive on self-sufficiency, receiving no material support. It therefore remains on a small scale.

Q: You said that PM Goh Chok Tong delivered an important 30-minute speech at the conference. Would you please sum it up?

A: Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong outlined Singapores vision for meeting the challenge of the future, to enable the country to compete and stay ahead. He encapsulated this vision in four words: "Thinking Schools, Learning Nation."

He emphasised: "We will bring about a mindset change among Singaporeans. We must get away from the idea that it is only the people at the top who should be thinking, and the job of everyone else is to do as told. Instead we want to bring about a spirit of innovation of learning by action, of everyone at all levels always asking how she or he can do her or his job better."

Premier Goh and several other scholars and experts stressed the need for a creative thinking society.

Q: Does Singapore have an appropriate approach for creating the "Thinking Schools, Learning Nation" formula?

A: I think the Singaporean approach is very positive. Premier Goh has suggested concrete guidance.

For instance, he said: "The task of education will be to instill in students the habit of life-long learning"; "Schools must produce students who have a passion for learning, instead of just studying for the sake of scoring As"; "To see how creative thinking can be taught better in schools, the Education Ministry is reviewing its curriculum and assessment system"; "Teachers and principals too, need to learn and to look constantly for new ideas. They will be given more autonomy so that they can think of their own solutions to problems"; "Schools will also give feedback on policies and this process of sharing knowledge will define education for the future."

Q: Ive heard that copies of your report were sold out at a recent American Creativity Association meeting.

A: No, it was not copies of my report that were sold. Rather people have purchased Professor Morris Steins report on my work on Creatology in Vi?t Nam. Stein is a Professor Emeritus at New York University.

(Bo "Vi?t Nam News", ra ngy 4/8/1997)