May 22, 2013
Had a couple interesting experiences in the last couple days regarding thinking outside the box. The first, I’m happy to say, I started. I needed an exercise to help students recognize that the work world is different. I took 17 random shapes in a variety of colors and put them on an 8.5 x 11 sheet of paper. Then each group was given crayons. One person from each group could come up and look at the paper for 30 seconds and draw for one minute. This would happen 4 times. On the third round I actually swapped out the drawing for something slightly different (shapes were moved and colors changed).
The students all came up, looked at the page and tried to memorize it, and then went back to draw. When we finished the time, I asked why no one had brought up their phone to take a picture, no one took notes, and no one discussed with the group what they needed when they were standing in front of the drawing. Indignantly they informed me it was “against the rules”. By the end of the discussion they understood they had drawn their own box and I smugly felt I had taught them something.
That evening we watched Brain Games. The exercise was to show that our own brains feel it is more important to “know” something than look like you don’t. The questioner asked people on the street trivia questions and told the people to give a range as their answer. ”How many countries in Africa?” was the first one and I immediately started to figure out a range – something like 45-50. The program went on to explain that no rules were given but the majority of people will give a limited range – like 45-50. Instead, if your goal is to just get the question right, the range should be 1-100. I quickly lost my smugness and realized we all make rules where there aren’t any.
So, what situations can you apply this to? Any time you hear yourself saying, “I can’t”, “it isn’t an option” or other limiting language, think back to these two experiments. I think there are a lot of situations limited only by our approach. I’ll let you know what I find from here!