Chapter 6: How can creativity be saved?

Profile of a paramedic: the seven creative thinking strategies

We were with a group of ‘at risk’ school students, on a government-funded wilderness expedition that would, we hoped, help them get their lives back on track. The most troubled of them had run afoul of the law; for others their families had given up hope. This was a rescue mission for many of these boys — the last stop on a long road that had been leading to almost certain destruction. The expedition involved taking them into the wilds, far from all their regular negative influences, and allowing them to learn the consequences of their behaviours. It was a tough trip: the boys ended up having to camp on the side of a cliff when their navigation skills went awry, and they had to eat cold food scraped out of cans when they wasted rations in a food fight and got their matches damp in the process. They often had to set up camp in the dark, battle inhospitable terrain and deal with unfamiliar wildlife.

The biggest and final challenge of the trip was to be a long abseil, a 400-metre drop down a massive cliff. There was only one way to get out of the wilderness, and it involved scaling that cliff, but even the most intrepid of expeditioners would have been terrified by this precipice and the sheer drop to the distant valley floor below. The night before the students were to take the big plunge we took 10 of them across to the other side of the valley to view the challenge they would ...

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