My partner is a grade 2 public primary school teacher. He regularly comes home with fascinating stories of what kids have done and said. The unique ideas that they come up with and the logical answers that they have to problems. But then in contrast, we also discuss the set curriculum delivered in schools and the way children are taught to solve problems and to address challenges with process and structure. I recently re-watched the TED talk by Sir Ken Robinson on how schools and organisations are killing creativity. He talks about how no where in the world is there a public education system that teaches more art or dance than maths and sciences.
In my current role I am working with organisations to help them adapt to the changing marketplace around them. As the technology and environment around us changes we need to also shift not only the way we work but also our mindset. We are still using the same learned logic and approach to working and solving problems that we have been using for decades.
When I was a kid my parents use to often say I had a fascinating logic and view of the world. I use to stand in the middle of the room and spin around. I would then stop and ask, ‘Mum, do you get dizzy when I turn the house around’. From my perspective, as a 7 year old with endless possibilities and at the centre of the world, this was completely logical.
But holding onto this unstructured logical view of the world is difficult when we are educated to look at our surroundings through a lens compiled of rules, processes and formulas that give you the correct answer.
As I sit here writing this post, looking out the window of my flight from Melbourne to Sydney I am reminded of a time when I was scared to get in a plane. I had watched all these plane take off and fly into the distance. At the age of 4, the night before my first memorable plane trip, I was in tears. All I knew about planes was they fly through the sky and get smaller and smaller until they are no more.
I wasn’t sobbing because of a fear of flying or safety but because ‘I didn’t want to get small and disappear’.
This was the answer to my parents question when they couldn’t understand my anxiety for getting on the plane. When your view of the world is not founded on previous conceptions the possibilities are endless… but still logical.
Imagine our approach to problem solving if we could hold onto this fresh, untarnished logic. We need to add fluidity to the learning model that we have previously experienced. After primary school, senior school, two bachelor degrees and a Masters – I have a good 20 years of formal education. My logic is now largely confined by the structure and processes that have been ingrained in me over those years of schooling. I have to work really hard to not let this be a limitation. To continue to let my childish logic be accessible to help me solve adult problems.
Watch Sir Ken’s TED talk and when your next challenge appears try to throw away what you know and instead look at the world like your six year old self did. When was the last time you did that?