Saturday, March 17, 2007

Learn to think the opposite!

The wrong way might be the right way!

While waiting to catch flight at Singapore Airport earlier this month I picked up a small book to fill in time called ,'Whatever you Think -Think the Opposite' by Paul Arden. Arden is the creative director at Saatch & Saatch in the UK.

The book is all about the benefits of making bad decision, shows how risk is your security in life, and why unreason is better than reason; how the wrong way to think is the right way to win.

'Original ideas', Arden writes, 'are created by original people, people who either through instinct or insight know the value of being different and recognise the commonplace as a dangerous place to be'.

Too many people try to make decisions based on facts and evidence but the trouble with sensible decisions is that everybody else is making the same decision. If you aways make the 'right', or the safe decision, says Arden, everybody else is also making the same decision and you will end up the same as everybody else.

Making the same decision is dull, predictable and leads nowhere new.The unsafe decision he says,'causes you to think and respond in a way you hadn't thought of', and in the process, 'will take you to a place where others only dream of being.'

Arden believes you ought to be in charge of your own life and that you ought to learn to, 'rock the boat.' Unfortunately in the process of 'growing up' we reach the 'age of reason' and begin to think in more adult ways - risk then becomes something that must be carefully considered.

Being unreasonable is required to thrive, says Arden, quoting George Bernard Shaw, 'The reasonable man adapts himself to the world.The unreasonable man adapts the world to himself.All progress depends on the unreasonable man.'

Knowledge makes us play safe, the secret he says, is to stay childish - I prefer childlike.

Too many people spend too much time gathering data before they actually do anything. Arden's advice is 'to run with what you have got, and fix it up as you go'. So much for all this nonsense about evidence based teaching if you want to develop imaginative and creative students.

It is all about how you present yourself. 'Most people are other people, their thoughts are someone elses opinions, their lives a mimicry', says Arden, quoting Oscar Wilde.

So , he asks, what is your point of view? Advances in any field are built upon people with a personal points of view. The prevailing point of view is what the majority think. Having the courage to stand up for your own point of view in the face of public opinion is what makes you a winner.

If ideas are fresh and new you can't expect others to like them straight away - ideas have to be applied before they are recognised as good ideas. Oddly, Arden says, the people who struggle most are often the ones who eventually become the most successful.

Going to university, he says, is all to often a delaying tactic. Go to work, is his advice, and do your learning in the school of life. Solving problems is the exciting part, not knowing the answers. Good marks will not secure you an interesting life - only your imagination will.

Arden concludes his stimulating book by asking readers to simply change their lives. The world, he says, it what you make it. So think different and your life will change.

A good read for schools and Ministry technocrats who seem determined to destroy the idiosyncratic talents and imagination of their most creative students by their obsession with sensible planning and obsessive accountability.

As we enter an age of creativity it is time to be unreasonable I think.


Anonymous said...

Arden's book would drive the anal comply and control central technocrats silly. Wouldn't fit in with their obsession with targets, strategy planning and efficiency.

Anonymous said...

Arden's book explains why all schools are so much the same - to obsessed with complying to think for themselves

Anonymous said...

It is very hard for teachers, or schools, to take risks because of the low trust accountability environment they live in -plus an Education Review Office made up of our less brave ex principals. Easier to do what is expected.

Bruce said...

I thought the book great fun and the antithesis of the kind of thinking we have been forced into due to the current managerial approach. Imagination and creativity cannot survive in the current prescription environment where schools all copy approved approaches. 'Evidence based' learning, pre set criteria, exemplars, narrow targets, and intentional teaching have nothing to do with creativity. Add in conservative ERO judgemental approval and you have the complete low trust environment.

Anonymous said...

Schools are all too reasonable and careful - not the places for real creativity in students or their teachers.