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Published in Literacy and Learning Matters

da Vinci’s Creativity Code

No, not that code. Instead, the code to his seemingly unlimited creativity. We’ve learned from a business innovator’s use of this strategy, and adapted it as a creative writing HOW2 for your students.

Creativity… consists largely of rearranging what we know in order to find out what we do not know.

Michael Michalko, 1991, thinkertoys, berkley california

Da Vinci’s IdeaBox

Michael Michalko thinks he knows how Leonardo da Vinci came up with his ideas. He’s put together a technique he calls the da Vinci IdeaBox. We call it the Attribution Table and have applied it to creative writing. 

Whatever you call it, it’s is a clever way of capturing possibilities. And organising an almost infinite combination of elements. It forces thinking to go beyond the automatic, familiar and limited routes and choices. It’s great for students who really feel stumped for any ideas to write about. 

By visually recording all the possible permutations in a systematic way, short-term memory isn’t over – loaded. The total number of combinations far surpasses what could ever be held in the head. 

The illustration below shows a designer and her Attribution Table that captures a great many possibilities for the creation of a new washing basket. By using the product’s components on the top axis and their potential variations on the other, a map with an unimaginable number of configurations becomes apparent. 

Creative writing

If you’d like to see how this ingenious approach to creativity has been applied to writing, click the box below that will take you to one of the two HOW2s in the Library. One of the HOW2s shows how to introduce and model it to your students, and the other how to apply it to writing. Try it out with your students and tell us how you got on. We’d love to share your successes on this blog. 

View the attribution table how2
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