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The Orandom-wordO method is a powerful lateral-thinking technique that is very easy to use. It is by far the simplest of all creative techniques and is widely used by people who need to create new ideas (for example, for new products).

Chance events allow us to enter the existing patterns of our thinking at a different point. The associations of a word applied to the new Oout of contextO situation generates new connections in our mind, often producing an instant OEurekaO effect, insight or intuition. It is said that Newton got the idea of gravity when he was hit on the head with an apple while sitting under an apple tree. It is not necessary to sit under trees and wait for an apple to fall - we can get up and shake the tree. We can produce our own chance events.

Random inputs can be words or images. Some techniques for getting random words (and the words should be nouns) are:

Have a bag full of thousands of words written on small pieces of paper, cardboard, poker chips, etc. Close your eyes, put in your hand and pull out a word.

Open the dictionary (or newspaper) at a random page and choose a word.

Use a computer program to give you a random word. I have a Hypercard program suitable for Apple Macintosh which uses this list of words (236 of them!)

Make up your own list of 60 words. Look at your watch and take note of the seconds.

Use this number to get the word.

It is important to use the first word you find.

Once you have chosen the word, list its attributions or associations with the word. Then apply each of the items on your list and see how it applies to the problem at hand. How does it work? Because the brain is a self-organising system, and very good at making conections. Almost any random word will stimulate ideas on the subject. Follow the associations and functions of the stimulus word, as well as using aspects of the word as a metaphor.

You may want to mind-map the random word. Exercise.

1. You are tired of getting unsolicited email and you are searching for a solution. Your random word is BANANA.

2. You need to tell a story to your children at bedtime. Your random word is EGG.

Roger von Oech writes in OA Kick in the Seat of the PantsO:

A good way to turn your mental attic of experiences into a treasure room is to use Otrigger conceptsO - words that wll spark a fresh association of ideas in your mind. Like pebbles dropping in a pond, they stimulate other associations, some of which may help you find something new.

He writes in OA Whack on the Side of the HeadO about various cultures having oracles. The ancient Greeks used the ambigious predictions of the Delphic Oracle, the Chinese used the I Ching, the Egyptians consulted the Tarot, the Scandinavian people used Runes and the North American Indians used Medicine Wheels. The purpose of these oracles was not so much to foretell the future but to help the user delve deeper into their own minds.

You can create your own oracle by doing three things:

Ask a question. This focuses your thinking. Perhaps you should write your question to focus attention.

Generate a random piece of information. Random selection is important, as the unpredictability of this new input will force you to look at the problem in a new way. Interpret the resulting random piece of information as the answer to your question. The important thing is to have an open, receptive mind.


Here is a method I (Charles Cave) have been developing recently: I make my own random picture cards by cutting out pictures from the various pieces of advertising material and magazines that appear in my letter box. A card can be picked at random and used as the random word. Choose pictures without text to allow a more right-brain approach. My cards include pictures of felt pens, furniture, kitchen items, art works, people, buildings, scenes and abstract designs. The cards can be shuffled and a card chosen at random.

Last updated: 3rd June 1997 Comments? Send them to Charles Cave


improving Your Creative Thinking Skills

by Melvin D. Saunders

Do you think in a restricted or an expanded capacity? Billions of dollars are spent on product advertising each year because advertising works. When you break down a typical ad into its ridiculous components though, you see quickly that it is NOT geared to the thinking, conscious individual, because consumer buying is primarily done on emotional impulse. By improving your thinking skills, you become less susceptible to emotionally directed advertisements.

Creative thinking and problem solving go hand in hand. For many years, Dr.

Edward de Bono, a psychologist and professor of investigative medicine at Cambridge University, promoted the field of creative thinking under the logo Lateral Thinking. Vertical thinking proceeds when you solve a problem by going from one logical step to the next in achieving a solution. Lateral thinking depicts the type of thinking that comes with seeking solutions to problems through unorthodox methods or playing games with the data.

Expanding your mental capacity with creative thinking can improve with practice. For instance, lay six stick matches on the table and make four equal sided triangles out of them. After struggling fruitlessly in 2 dimensions, you soon learn that a 3-dimensional tetrahedron is the only way to accomplish the task. Learn to "think wild." Let yourself imagine all kinds of possibilities and alternatives, including those you would ordinarily consider impractical or ridiculous. For instance, try thinking about the exact opposite of what normally comes to mind when posed with a problem, then elaborate on it from there.

If you have an opinion and another person has an opposite point of view, visualize yourself in the other person's shoes for a change. List all the reasons why his opinion is valid; then list all the reasons why his opinion is invalid; and finally list all the irrelevant points. Many people become stymied by getting embroiled in describing, complaining and criticizing another person's viewpoint, instead of directing their thinking toward action and deciding what can be done about the situation.

More than half of the world's greatest discoveries have been made through

'serendipity' or the finding of one thing while looking for something else; but remember, it takes a creatively aware person to recognize an opportunity when it presents itself. In emergencies, people tend to panic instead of using their head to determine their options.

Many people hold opinions or views because they're blocked with emotional or prejudicial reasons. By expanding your scope to include the opposite viewpoint from your position, you often become quickly unblocked. While the U.S. leads the world in crime, drug addiction and indebtedness, Japan has little crime and drug addiction, and is the most solvent and educated nation in the world. Do you think emotional and prejudicial reasons keep U.S. officials blocked from learning from Japan's example or are there other reasons?

Now discuss with a partner the opposite of the following assumptions to see where it leads you. Open your mind and think wild.

An Example of an Assumption Proffered by Officials: With the millions of dollars spent on AIDS research, there is still no permanent cure that has yet been found for the disease.

Opposite Considerations and the Reasons Behind Them: The cure that has been found is too inexpensive and permanent and therefore it cannot afford a payback of the expense already outlaid. The disease is actually wanted by world controlling groups to eliminate undesirables and maintain fear in global populations. An expensive, impermanent non-cure is really desired to secure a more continuous flow of revenue off of patients that can afford it. By NOT revealing the cure for AIDS, the disease can be allowed to proliferate to overwhelming proportions, where only martial law with dictatorial edicts can maintain population control. More money can be made looking for a cure than finding a cure, so all permanent cures must be suppressed. Now find your own opposite considerations for the following assumptions: Give yourself 5 minutes on each of the following Assumptions Proffered By Officials: Pesticides ingested with your fruits and vegetables are too negligible to cause you any health problem. Better education in public schools will take another 10 years or more to put into effect. The unhealthy pollutants in the drinking water of many U.S. cities will simply cost too much to correct. U.S. officials are attempting to curtail the flow of narcotics in the nation.

Learn to define your aims, goals and objectives in life's situations. Make a list of all your reasons for doing a particular thing. Even though you assume that you know what your goals are, often hidden or unconsidered goals get in the way. Without a clarity of purpose, all actions are either reactions to a situation or matters of habit or imitation. For example, a tennis player that keeps delivering kill shots into the net might think his goal was to win the game, but in reality it might be just an undetected desire to look terrific.

In England & Venezuela, Dr. de Bono has made great headway in initiating lateral thinking courses in public schools. Why is the U.S. so disinterested in such education? Could it be that less money could be made off of thinking citizens than gut oriented citizens? Think about it!

One man though has made some headway within the U.S. school systems -Dr. C. Samuel Micklus. With his wife Carole, they have developed a program called Odyssey of the Mind (OM). The Odyssey of the Mind Program, under the auspices of OM Association, Inc., a not-for-profit corporation, promotes divergent thinking in students from kindergarten through college. It is a program that offers students a unique opportunity to participate in challenging and creative activities both inside and outside their regular classroom curriculum. In OM teams, students develop self-confidence in creating solutions, evaluating their ideas and making final decisions. It makes learning fun. Now going into its eleventh year, over 350,000 students from the U.S., Canada, Mexico, China and Australia compete internationally on specially designed Odyssey of the Mind problems. To learn how to get your child's school involved in the OM program, write: Odyssey of the Mind, P.O. Box 27, Glassboro, NJ 08028

campus.htmlcampus.htmlGraduate Program in Critical and

Creative Thinking developing reflective practice and changing our schools, workplaces, and lives

Course Offerings—Outreach Activities—Other Information and Searching Overview: The primary mission of the Critical and Creative Thinking (CCT) program, based in the College of Education at the University of Massachusetts, Boston is professional development for mid-career teachers and other educators and for leaders or change-agents in other kinds of organizations. CCT approaches this mission by providing its students with an understanding of the processes of critical thinking and creativity, and with ways of helping others develop these processes in a variety of educational, professional, and social situations.

The Program appeals to mature students who are motivated to transform their work and lives and are interested to learn from other students whose interests and backgrounds are diverse. Many are educators: teachers and college professors, curriculum specialists, teacher educators, museum educators, or school administrators. Others are policy makers or personnel trainers in government, corporate, or non-profit settings. Some are artists, musicians, or writers.

CCT students are encouraged in their course projects, independent studies, and capstone projects to translate what they learn into strategies, materials and interventions for use in their own settings. Students graduate from the Program better equipped for ongoing learning, fulfilling the needs of their schools, workplaces, and communities, adapting to social changes, and collaborating with others to these ends (see exit self-assessment)

CCT is a unique and clearly interdisciplinary graduate program. Its faculty members are drawn from several fields, including education, philosophy, psychology, mathematics, and the life sciences. Traditionally, the field of Critical and Creative Thinking has covered psychological studies of the scope, limits, and techniques of critical and creative thought, information processing, and conceptual learning in children and young adults; philosophical studies of techniques in reasoning, argument, logical thinking, valuing, and judging; and work with cognitive structures and metacognitive techniques for stimulating creativity and critical thought. More recently, CCT has delved further into inter- and intra-personal dimensions of critical and creative thinking and reflective practice, into the areas of empathy, listening, dialogue, and facilitation of other group processes. An interest in contributing to constructive social change has also led CCT faculty and students to address anti-racist and multicultural education and to promote the involvement of teachers and other citizens in debates about science in its social context.

Most students in CCT seek a Master of Arts (M.A.) degree, but others study for a Graduate Certificate. Starting in the summer of 2001 (pending approval), a Certificate of Advanced Graduate Studies (CAGS)with a Concentration in Facilitating Reflective Practice is available through a partnership with the Educational Administration Program. CCT courses also allow students from other GCOE programs to fulfill requirements for courses in critical and creative thinking and in teaching in the different subject areas, especially in mathematics and science. Special, non-degree students can also take CCT courses; this opportunity, together with workshops, summer institutes, forums, and other outreach activities further extend the range of educational experiences offered by the Program.

M.A. students complete four foundation courses, three electives, and three more required courses including a capstone thesis or synthesis. The elective courses offered specifically address four areas in which students apply critical and creative thinking skills: moral education; literature and arts; mathematics, science, and technology (including sub-specialities in science in society, and environment, science, and society); and workplace and organizational change. The program provides for other student specialization through cooperation with other UMass Boston graduate programs, such as instructional design, special education, educational administration, and dispute resolution.

Outreach Activities—Other Information and Searching— denotes Course Offerings Winter and Spring 2001 courses

Constructivist Listening, Winter session, taught by Emmett Schaefer Register through

Continuing Education.

CCT Certificates with Special Themes offered in 2001: Science, Education, and Society Dialogue and Collaboration in Organizational Change Moral Education (CrCrTh620), Topics to be covered by new instructor, Ted Klein Certificate of Advanced Graduate Studies in Educational Administration with a Concentration in Facilitating Reflective Practice (pending approval) Summer Institute 2001 (preliminary announcement) Past years' courses and Future years' proposed offerings CCT Outreach Activities

Thinking for Change Outreach unit of the CCT Program

Think Tank for College Teachers of Critical Thinking

Critical & Creative Thinking in Practice (Tuesday evening presentations and miniworkshops by students, faculty, alums, and others) Science, Education, and Society initiatives Other information and Searching

CCT Handbook -- Joining CCT, moving through the program, and information about the wider CCT community [click & hold for Word file]

Admissions Information Service 617.287.6000 [application forms (PDF files)]

Graduate Bulletin entry for CCT [click & hold for Word file, print out at 77%]

Publicity Brochure [click & hold for Word file; Please print out and distribute]

Compilation of Email Bulletins of News from CCT

Abstracts of completed theses and syntheses

Future plans of the CCT Program (June 2000 Planning Document)

Links to allied organizations and projects

Academic calendar

Directions to get to the CCT Program.

Program Ofice [email protected], 617.287.6520, Wheatley Hall, Second Floor, Room 157University of Massachusetts Boston, 100 Morrissey Boulevard, Boston, MA 02125 -3393.

Faculty advisor, Dr. Peter Taylor, 617.287.7636 Search the CCT website

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Abstracts of syn/theses | Applications | Allied Organizations | Bulletin | Calendar | Capstone Sequence | Certificates | Courses | Dialogue and Collaboration in Organizational Change | Directions | Director | Exit self-assessment | Faculty | Foundation Courses | Handbook | Masters

Degree | News from CCT | Office | Outreach activities | Plans | Publicity material | Science Education and Society | Search | Summer Institute

Please note: All information in this publication is subject to change. This publication is neither a contract nor an offer to make a contract. Last update 2 December 2000. Please alert the CCT Webster of glitches in this site.

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