Many years ago, I learned the concept of “Structural Tension” from Robert Fritz, one of the founders of Innovation Associates along with Peter Senge and Charlie Keifer. IA was a company dedicated to helping people build organizations using principles of the creative process. I often refer to “Structural Tension” as “Creative Tension,” because that phrase is readily understandable by children. Yes, you can teach this to children. Here is how it works.
Stretch a rubber band between your two hands so that one hand is on top of the other. Imagine that your bottom hand represents current reality (the way things are) and your top hand represents your vision (what you would like to see in the world). Notice the tension in the rubber band. This is energy created by holding current reality and vision simultaneously, and it is this tension—this energy—that allows us to create the results we want. If you let go of either end of the rubber band, you will notice that there no longer is energy in the system. All you have is a limp rubber band.