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Brainstorming is a kind of group activity that is used to generate a lot of ideas. Trainees are encouraged at the beginning to think ideas, not matter how silly or far-fetched. Every suggestion is recorded. Decisions about the practicality or feasibility of the ideas are made later. We do brainstorming not only in educational contexts but in other contexts too, as for example in the family context. Let us consider some important features of brainstorming. The group can be small or large, but not as large as a group that gathers for a public lecture.


Trainees should be seated facing towards the main writing space, for example, a blackboard. Time

No preparation time is needed. In class, approximately 5 to 10 minutes should be spent on this activity. The time for follow-up activity will vary depending on what the brainstorming is used for.


The trainer selects a central theme; for example, child-centred learning. Trainees call out spontaneously and rapidly ideas connected to the central theme. The teacher educator writes these on to the board without comment. The words/ phrases are written in random order.

Level or type of participant

Any, since the theme is chosen to suit the trainees you have in mind. After the brainstorming

The brainstorming can be followed input in the form of discussion of the ideas generated. Or, the items gathered can be prioritized. Alternatively, some form of homework/writing assignment, lecture, or workshop can follow.

The activities can be trainer-led or done in independent groups. Beliefs

The beliefs that underline brainstorming should be understood to make such sessions effective. Some important beliefs are:

  1. Trainees like working in plenary.
  2. Ideas, if not judged or assessed will flow freely.
  3. It’s easier for people to think of ideas if they don’t have to classify or prioritize them at the same time.

Seeing and hearing other people’s thoughts trigger more of one’s own.

Correct.pngQualities a trainer should possess

To make brain storming effective, a trainer should possess these essential qualities:

  1. She/he should be non-judgemental of the trainees ideas. If she/he is judgemental, ideas will not flow freely.
  2. She/he should be comfortable being a silent scribe. It is not always necessary for the trainer to take centre-stage.
  3. She/he should understand that it is not always necessary to take a position on everything that comes from the trainees.

Reason for brainstorming

  1. To find out what trainees know! remember! associate with a particular topic.
  2. To share the initial thoughts of the group publicly, so people can see who knows! thinks what.
  3. To tune a group into a topic.
  4. For review.

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Of the following topics, which one would be best suited for brain storming? Why?

  1. Making Bangalore eco-friendly.
  2. Preparing hydrogen gas
  3. Treating dyslexia
  4. Visual aids for primary classes

Conducting Brainstorming

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Read the following conversation.

A: How can we keep our city clean?

B: You should make everyone vacate the city!

A: Don’t speak rubbish. I am serious.

B: Well…. I am not sure….

How do you understand the above conversation?

Did A get a solution?

What do you think of the solution given by B?

Do you think it was wise on the part of A to comment on B’s response?

What happened after B heard the comment? Did he give any more ideas?

The thinking of people can be separated into two parts.

  1. Thinking part/ideation part
  2. Evaluative part

Can you now see who belongs to which group? Who’s doing the thinking and who is doing the evaluation? In most of our day to day transactions we associate evaluation with thinking. We also assume that thinking without evaluation may lead to unruly behaviour. We want every step of ours to be in the right direction. But when it comes to thinking, if evaluation precedes thinking, the very act of generating ideas may suffer a set back. As shown in the conversation above, B stops thinking. Probably it would be good if we can separate thinking and evaluating. We always have the option of dropping the ideas that we don’t need. But if we expect only right ideas then ideas may not appear at all. It is in this light that a technique called brainstorming is thought of.

Brainstorming involves intentionally separating thinking from evaluation.

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What would be the advantages of separating evaluative part from thinking part? Please list your observations below. The Americans name these two parts as Green Light Stage(Thinking part) and Red Light Stage(Evaluative part). Alex F. Osborn suggests a few principles for thinking part.

  1. Free wheeling is emphasised. The idea may be funny, crazy or costly, please feel free to say it.
  2. No criticism is encouraged, either of the self or of others. Non-verbal criticisms also is not permitted.
  3. Quantity breeds quality. You are permitted to say as many ideas as possible. The chances of qualitative ideas are more among so many.
  4. You can add to others’ ideas by way of borrowing their ideas and adding your part to them.

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Now you have read quite a lot of literature on brainstorming.

  1. How do you think is this technique useful to you as a trainer?
  2. When is brainstorming as a technique useful?
  3. Is the philosophy behind this technique useful to you as a thinking person?
  4. Would you like to use this technique to brainstorm yourself to generate new ideas?}}

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Discuss with your colleagues and list the merits of each one of the principles and the uses of this technique.

The Steps

You are like the conductor of an orchestra. In a training programme of yours, teachers would come with different backgrounds. Ask them to sit in a circle. Then appraise them of the principles discussed earlier. Before you ask them to ideate on a general topic such as - how to make your city environment friendly? - tell them a few jokes so that they laugh enough and feel free to think about the topic.

The steps of conducting brainstorming in a group are:

a. Getting ready for the brainstorming.

Ask a friend of your to copy down all the ideas as fast as he can. Or appoint a stenographer to take down the ideas or taper record the whole session without the knowledge of the participants.

b. Warm up session

c. Ideation session

Your job will be that of a facilitator, encouraging them to come out with different types of ideas, never commenting or criticising any ideas.

d. Conducting evaluation session – many times this will not be conducted by the person in charge, in turn the ideas will be handed over to the concerned head of the department.

e. Highlight before the group the quality of ideas, novelty of ideas and the number of ideas.

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  1. What would you do with the ideas generated in the session? Would you like to take some action on them?
  2. Do you think it is possible to give certain projects based on the ideas generated in the brainstorming session?

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Organise a brainstorming session in your class. Note down your experiences in conducting the session. You are likely to have some questions.