Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Creative Thinking: The Way Out

I suck at math. Always have. I always thought it was the way my mind was wired, and that is true to a degree. But that notion changed for me a couple of years ago when I was at my son's middle school for a "back to school night." It was one of those events where the parents go from classroom to classroom and hear about what their kids will be doing in each. The math teacher was a man on his second career (teaching), and he was very enthusiastic about it. He did a demonstration about how he taught math concepts in different ways. One was with a beaker full of liquid in a discussion about volume. He explained how he used props to demonstrate the math concepts he was talking about. That's when it clicked for me. He was using a visual to demonstrate an abstract. In ten seconds he made me understand what a seventh grade tutors threw up their hands over. I got it. It was a creative approach, and it worked. He had turned the abstract into something immediately tangible.

People tend to look at things "the way it's always been done." That's because this approach works most of the time. But when things, like banks and car companies fail, the usual thinking doesn't work. That's when people need to look at things in different ways.

The country didn't get out of the Great Depression, or any of the eleven recessions since by doing business as usual. Not to suggest we're in a depression or anything close, but what we really need as a nation is some good creative thinking. The way you solve new problems is by looking at them from different sides. And that's probably not the way your math teacher did it.

Copyright 2009, Bremmer & Goris Communications, Inc.

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