Albert Einstein once said “everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”
In Normal Cerletti’s August 2021 TED Talk, Welcome (Your) Mistakes, she identified the education system as a cause of internalised perfectionism, expressing that “if you think about the way the way we learn at school that we are taught in a way that tries to avoid making mistakes”.
To illustrate her point, Cerletti provided the example of a classroom exercise of applying a rule or concept in grammar in practice, via multiple choice. Hard grammatical rules, similarly with mathematics, there is always a right answer. You can preach that one plus one equals window, but until you can prove that, and show why that is the superior answer to the problem, the answer will always be considered wrong.
When you unpick the 1+1= Window logic, of illustrating a window, each of the ones being the vertical windowpanes, the plus sign being the dividers of the four panes of glass, and the equals sign being the top and bottom of the window, it is a clever form of thinking around a problem. But, this isn’t deemed acceptable in a concrete subject like maths.
Similarly, Cerletti also makes reference to how when you are in school you are taught to write sentences in a uniform manner, especially in lessons involving languages etc. when you are learning a foreign language it is not uncommon for a teacher to only teach you one phrase in how to answer a question. For example, when learning French, being asked “comment ca va”, your response may be “cava bien merci et toi?” or “ca va mal” or just “ca va” again. These answers are respectively, I am well thank you, and you, I’m not well and I am okay. However, synonyms are seldom taught in lessons, meaning that you are limited in your ability to speak with a person. She explained that “[she] think[s] somehow schools don’t allow creativity, you’re never really allowed to make up your own sentences in another language.”
Synonyms and innovative thinking may be swept under the rug to an extent in schooling, ideas teachers may consider too far-fetched would be discouraged due to being harder to convey, however, outside of the world of red crosses, A-grades and exam papers, these ideas become idealised. You want to find the people that think around problems, look at ideas from a new perspective, and enjoy the challenge of justifying harder problems. Not everything is as easy as drawing a cartoon window, but, sometimes the reward can inspire the same enthusiasm and joy that comes from a child’s eyes widening as they realised 1 + 1 does equal window.
The need for innovative thinking can never be understated, thinking around problems, and coming up with solutions that make sense within the context of the problem is ideal.
Based in London, U.K., and founded in 2016 by Arvind Mishra The Agile Works (www.TheAgileWorks.com), is an up-and-coming recruitment and Agile consulting company. Arvind is a Certified SAFe SPC and regularly delivers both private and public SAFe certification workshops.
He is a design thinking expert, Sr. enterprise, portfolio Agile Coach with over a decade of experience working as an Agile coach in diverse industries such as banking, pharma, retail, auto, oil, gas, consulting and
The Agile Works; a small team of three strive to help shape the leadership's mind-set and values in readiness for their business transformation journey challenges. With Arvind at the helm, we strive to provide you with the agility tools to make your company that can thrive, and not just survive.
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