The Paperclip

Author: Aleix Barrera, Diego Castro, David Rodriguez-Gomez
Facilited by the teacher
The aim is to avoid self-censorship in the creative processes.
10-20 min.
15-30 students.
Virtual whiteboard


1. The teacher makes a shared document in the virtual whiteboard.

2. The teacher asks the students to list all the uses for a paperclip they can think of – this should take approximately 1 minute.

3. The teacher asks students to analyze their list by asking themselves the following questions:

  • Have you thought of any ‘alternative’ uses for a paperclip? For example, to pick a padlock or the lock on a box that belongs to someone else.
  • Have you written these uses down or have you thought that it was better not to, so as not leave out any evidence?

4. The teacher brings the students together in the online room to discuss the following points:

  • Do we censor ourselves when we think?
  • When we ‘thought-shower’, is the most important thing the number of ideas generated or the validity of what we expect the result to be?
  • Should moral dilemmas have to be removed to reveal brilliant ideas that initially may seem absurd, disrespectful, or crazy?



Inspired by: (created by Guilford, 1967)