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LATERAL THINKING: THE EDUCATIONAL ASPECT

Пятница 22 Апрель 2016

В преподавательских кругах не прекращается дискуссия относительно пользы и способов применения теории латерального мышления, разработанной Эдвардом Де Боно еще в 1970 г. Это показывает, насколько новаторской была его работа не только для того времени, но и на сегодняшний день. Де Бно широко известен как один из отцов-основателей прямого обучения мышлению в качестве навыка, а его концепция латерального мышления и развития специальных техник для намеренно творческого мышления остаются очень современными. Можно также добавить, что его наиболее широко используемая программа прямому обучению мышления в школах получает одобрение не только в западных странах, но и во многих школах по всему миру.

The ongoing academic discussion concerning the benefits and implications of the lateral thinking theory, developed by Dr. De Bono back in 1970 , reveals how pioneering this work was, not only for that period of time but also for today. Dr. De Bono is widely regarded as one of the “fathers” of the direct teaching of thinking as a skill, while his concept of lateral thinking and the development of formal techniques for deliberate creative thinking remain contemporary. Adding to the latter, his most widely used programme for the direct teaching of thinking in schools appears to have gained significant ground not only in the Western countries but also in many schools around the world.

настроение: творческое

ключевые слова: латеральное мышление в классе, прямое обучение мышлению, креативность

город: Москва

e-mail: olgakom@yandex.ru

The ongoing academic discussion concerning the benefits and implications of the lateral thinking theory, developed by Dr. De Bono back in 1970[1], reveals how pioneering this work was, not only for that period of time but also for today. Dr. De Bono is widely regarded as one of the “fathers” of the direct teaching of thinking as a skill, while his concept of lateral thinking and the development of formal techniques for deliberate creative thinking remain contemporary. Adding to the latter, his most widely used programme for the direct teaching of thinking in schools appears to have gained significant ground not only in the Western countries but also in many schools around the world.

What is the lateral thinking theory?

De Bono’s theory on lateral thinking refers to the solution of problems through an indirect and creative approach and through the use of reasoning that are not immediately obvious and involving ideas that may not be obtainable by using only traditional step-by-step logic.[2]

The author stressed that “lateral thinking deliberately distances itself from standard perceptions of creativity as either «vertical» logic (the classic method for problem solving: working out the solution step-by-step from the given data) or «horizontal» imagination (having many ideas but being unconcerned with the detailed implementation of them)”.

Table 1: Lateral thinking overview

As it can be seen above, De Bono’s approach on lateral thinking refers to the ways in which the mind thinks while his methodology was based on various critical thinking (i.e. judging the true value of statements and seeking errors) techniques. More specifically, De Bono identified four types of thinking tools:

  1. Idea-generating tools intended to break current thinking patterns—routine patterns, the status quo;
  2. Focus tools intended to broaden where to search for new ideas
  3. Harvest tools intended to ensure more value is received from idea generating output;
  4. Treatment tools that promote consideration of real-world constraints, resources, and support.

The ultimate goal of lateral thinking is to lead to the problem solving process, which will get the situation where it should be. For De Bono, the solution to the problem can be given through creativity, where any problem can be resolved through unconventional manner. However, it is essential to identify the problem through a creative way so that it will lead to a “lateral problem” solution, where the produced solutions either will be “obvious” in hindsight or will lead to problems that were not “visible” at first glance or even will solve simple problems that have a huge potential.

In this context, and to put lateral thinking into the teaching process, it can be said that lateral thinking can increase creativity in the classroom and can make both parties (students/pupils and teachers) think creatively and “out of the box”. Through interactivity, the instructor (teacher) and the pupils can provide solutions to the problems through a lateral thinking problem solving approach, which will enable them to increase their creativity.

What happens in the learning of a language? Can lateral thinking be a method of increasing the interest of students who are taking up classes of English, for example?

Learning English through lateral thinking

Learning a foreign language can be a difficult task and rather uninteresting to students. How can a teacher motivate students to get interested in the language? The answer is through the lateral thinking process and through the critical thinking approach.

As an English teacher, it is essential to be a motivated personality with a “can-do“ attitude so that students can feel the atmosphere in the class. However, make no mistake…your personal motivation is not enough! You need to motivate students to participate and interact with each other. For example, it is easy to prepare an exercise for the students with the use of traditional tools but the teacher must be proactive and prepare activities that will increase the creativity of the students and at the same time lead them to think out of the norms of the Russian language and culture. De Bono considered culture as an important factor for obtaining education while at the same time he stressed that culture helps education and societal integration.

His views on lateral thinking fundamentally referred to the adaptation of a different perspective in the problem solving process which will come through creativity and through interactions. Linguistically speaking, these interactions can be achieved through activities that will enhance discussion among students and will have an educational value in terms of understanding and realising the context, aims and outcomes of each activities. These can be achieved through the traditional tools available in class (blackboards, paper exercises etc.)  and through the use of new technological developments that can increase interactivity.

How should teachers increase interactivity in class?

The essence of interactivity in the classroom has been enhanced with the development of new technologies. Nowadays, teaching and learning a new language has many resources that can increase the lateral thinking and the interactions between students, without feeling uninterested and not appealed from learning the language. In fact, with the development of the Internet students can virtually “travel” to many English-speaking countries and receive the feedback in order to develop their linguistic skills. These are:

  • Use of traditional tools of interactivity. The blackboard, note sticks and other materials that already exist in the classroom can be part of creative problems that will promote interaction between students in English. The teacher must use De Bono’s theory and his/her creativity to get students involved in the interaction process.
  • Use of non-traditional tools of interactivity. Such tools can be a voice recorder, a mobile phone, a PC/laptop camera or anything else that will make the new generations feel attracted to learning the language.
  • Use of Social Media and technological applications. With the existence of the Internet and the social media, students can interact through Skype, in language exchange websites or using Facebook, Twitter and any other Social medium, or even in language-designated websites where students get to resolve problems concerning the English language.
  • Role-play exercises. Students enjoy such activities as it makes them think and use their skills in English to interact with their fellows.
  • Out of class activities (in English). An excursion to see a theatrical play in English or a concert or even an excursion where students will have to come across with people who either know or speak the language or they are learning.
  • Videos on YouTube about the British Culture and activities, Where students, with the assistance of their teacher, will be able to watch and discuss in English, the tasks set by their instructor.
  • Games online (crosswords, word puzzles etc). It is a good method to help students interact and solve problems in groups. The educational games can increase interaction and make the students use their creativity and think out of the box in order to provide solutions to the problems.

Here there are some examples of such tasks:

On the whiteboard draw nine dots like that

Now you need to draw four straight lines to connect nine dots without lifting your pen.

To succeed in it you really must start thinking outside the box.

Situation Puzzles are a very common type of lateral thinking exercises:

Situations

  1. A man is lying dead in a snowy field. There are no footprints to or from his body. The man has a pack on his back. How did he die?
  2. When Harry comes home he finds Sarah is dead, lying in a pool of water and Tom is sitting quietly on the armchair. There is some broken glass on the floor. Tom won’t be charged with murder. Why not?
  3. A woman lives on the 30th floor of a building. When she gets home from work, she usually takes the lift as far as the 21st floor and then climbs the stairs to the 30th. However when it’s raining, she’ll always take the lift to the 30th floor. What explains this strange behaviour?
  4. A man walks into a bar and asks the barman for a glass of water. The barman pulls out a gun and points it at the man. The man says ‘Thank you’ and walks out.
  5. Five pieces of coal, a carrot and a scarf are lying on the grass. Nobody put them on the grass but there is a perfectly logical reason why they should be there. What is it?
  6. A woman had two sons who were born on the same hour of the same day of the same year. But they were not twins. How could this be so?
  7. A man rode into town on Friday. He stayed for three nights and then left on Friday. How could it happen?

Answers

  1. He jumped out of a airplane with a parachute on his back that failed to open.
  2. Sarah is a fish and Tom is a cat. Sarah was swimming in her bowl. Tom started playing with it and knocked it over.
  3. She cannot reach the top button unless she is carrying an umbrella.
  4. The man had hiccups. The barman recognized this from his speech and drew the gun in order to give him a shock. It worked and cured the hiccups — so the man no longer needed the water.
  5. They were used by children who made a snowman. The snow has now melted.
  6. They were two of a set of triplets (or quadruplets etc.)
  7. The man’s horse was called Friday.[3]

 

Conclusions

Overall, De Bono’s method on lateral thinking has a very contemporary importance where it was based on methods of creativity through a specific process of the brain. His theory on lateral thinking has paved the way for the creative approach in the educational sector.

His views on lateral thinking are being used all over the world with success and they are based on thinking outside the usual norms, as a way to identify potential problems and solutions through an unconventional method of approach.

In English language teaching, the most important element in lateral thinking is interactivity, where the teacher should motivate students to interact with each other through different tasks and activities. These activities can be either conventional or unconventional tools however attention must be paid to the techniques and engagement of the students whilst learning the language.

Resourses:
[1] http://www.onestopenglish.com/community/lesson-share/extras/teenagers/teenagers-lateral-thinking/145220.article

[2] Lateral Thinking: Creativity Step by Step, (1970), Edward De Bono

[3] The Use of Lateral Thinking (1967), Edward De Bono

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