Meet ProjectTHINK Keynote Speaker: Ismet Mamnoon on Creative Parenting

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This March 1–2 comes the return of ProjecThink—an annual conference dedicated to exploring the world of innovation and creativity in learning. Hosted on the Ringling College of Art and Design campus, the conference kicks off this year with a presentation from Ismet Mamnoon, founder of Beyonder, TedX speaker and featured by Time magazine for her work weaving creativity into parenting and education. SRQ grabbed a seat up front for a preview.

What is Beyonder? Mamnoon: Beyonder is an idea that comes out of research by one of the longest and oldest living legends of creative thinking and research. E. Paul Torrance is known as the father of creativity, and he coined the term Beyonder. He said a Beyonder is someone who can make the creative leap beyond what is usually expected.

Can anyone be a Beyonder? The thing that I believe in and that the research shows is that every single human being has the potential and the ability to be creative. You need the permission to do it, the encouragement and the right kind of fostering and nurturing in order to be able to accomplish that—it needs to be valued and recognized. Those are the things that are missing in the environment within which we are raising the next generation, and that's what we need to bring back into the way that we interact with them.

How has being a parent transformed your thinking on innovation? It was becoming a parent that made me come into the field of creativity and innovation. I was struggling as a parent and being able to see things from a different perspective, being willing to generate options, being willing to try and learn all the time, being willing to be curious and observe and really try and understand that allowed me to finally turn the challenges of parenting into successes.

Such as a creative solution to getting your kids to clean their room? I would dread walking down the corridor to their room. I knew it was going to be a mess, and then there would be a confrontation. It suddenly struck me that if they treat their clothes like garbage, what if I took my cue from them and decided to treat their clothes the same way? So I went back downstairs, I got myself a big garbage bag and, while they were still playing and still creating a snowstorm in the room with clothes, I just started to pick up all the clothes and put them in these bags. “What are you doing?” they said. “That's not garbage, these are our clothes.”

And it worked? Oh my gosh, it was hysterical. Eventually it brought us to a point where we could have a conversation about the fact that if you treat your things this way or you treat yourself this way, this is how others are going to treat you, and treat your belongings as well.

This parent-child relationship is a back-and-forth, right? Who is learning more here? I would definitely say it's me. Without question, it's me.

Early Bird Individual Registration, $30 off the regular price for the full conference ticket, limited time. 

Pictured: Ismet Mamnoon.

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