Sunday, July 27, 2014

Thinking Exercises

While I was coaching the Odyssey of the Mind competition in a local Jr. High, one of the exercises we did was to encourage thinking outside the box. We did this by taking an ordinary object, say a pencil, and handing it to the person on our left and asking "What is this?"  The easy answer is "A pencil." which would get the group one point. The pencil was then passed to the next person with the same question. The rules were that you weren't allowed to use the same answer twice, and clever answers like "A vaulting pole for leprechauns" or "an emergency tent peg on your camping trip" would be worth 3 points.

This is a great exercise and gets the creative juices flowing. The problem is that once you get into that sort of mindset you tend to keep using it in your daily life. If you normally do creative work, this is good. If you're in a more doctrinaire occupation you can quickly get tagged as a trouble making wise ass. Still, it helps break up the boredom.

Here is a small screenshot of a 2nd grade math test from the Common Core school of thought regarding mathematics.

Q1 There are 23 students in Ms. Lakes class. What is the total number of fingers of all the students in the class? Show your work.
A1: 180 since thumbs don't count and Freddy has only one arm.

Q2: There are 6 cars in the parking lot. What is the total number of wheels in the parking lot?
A2: 25 counting the spares and allowing for Ms. Lakes car which has been stripped.

Notice that I didn't even mention the bicycles and skateboards in the lot. Try this yourself and notice the strange new respect you get as your friends and co-workers recognize your newly developing creativity.

CAUTION: When Officer Friendly pulls you over and asks "Do you know why I pulled you over?" is probably not the best time to try this. Might make a fun bar game though.


Jennifer said...

Ah OM! Training new weirdos every year

Sailorcurt said...

My favorite response to a common question a LEO asks after pulling me over:

Q: "Do you know how fast you were going sir?"

A: "Ahh, but the important question is 'do YOU know how fast I was going?'"

I've had mixed reactions to that one.