Thinking Outside The Box

Are you a visionary?

Today marked the start of the new school year at Plymouth High School. This actually marks the first time I've ever opened the first day in the classroom as last year I was still not signed on the dotted line to start. No I did not hold out A.K.A. Aaron Donald, just had to wait for proper okays.

Back to being a visionary. In todays first class we only had roughly twenty-five minutes to engage. I spent the time with a mini lesson that was not setup to be an obvious one. Sometimes those are the best anyways to learn from.

This idea centered around two problem solving challenges. I'll pose them to you. .  

The first was this. Based on the picture to the right create a "6". Heres the twist on this one. You are only allowed to use one line. Can you get it? It's possible. As a matter of fact there are three solutions.

  • Solution one has you put the line horizontally through the center of the I and X. Take that and flip you screen/paper upside down and you will see above your line "IV". This is the roman numeral of the number 6. 
  • Solution two takes some ingenuity. Simply use the space before the I and X to draw the letter S. Remember the instructions said nothing about the line having to be straight. It was only your brain that initiatively told you that you could not do that because we only associate line with being straight. 
  • Solution three builds off the previous solution. Anywhere around the drawing write "6". You can draw the number 6 in one swoop/line it just has a connection point. 

The other challenge is an old test used in the 1980's to determine IQ. The military used it I believe as well to gauge the thinking process of individuals. It is called the "Nine Dot Puzzle". The instructions are this. 

Draw four lines that connect all 9 dots without lifting your pen/pencil. 

So the concept of this puzzle is to open up our minds. If you want to attempt it do so now before reading the solution....

You see here the only way to accomplish the task is to go beyond the limits of the dots. We see the dots and assume that is where we must stay. However if we go beyond those mental limits we have the ability to get things done. What stops most people is that when they are bound the instructions that they forget the possibilities. To make strides sometimes we must think outside the box and maybe take a step out. Unfortunately there might not be a pot of gold at the end of each venture, but we can certainly try. 

Back in 2015 the Association of American College and Universities conducted a survey of working people and over 600 students beyond high school. 74% of those surveyed responded that they felt their school did not prepare them for the professional world. Shocking and in some cases true. 

To wrap it together I simply say this. To better prepare ourselves no matter what place we are in life we must think outside the box or at least be willing to take a look at finding the obscure solution. I challenged students to take this mindset into the rest of the year. Sometimes it won't be easy, sometimes it won't seem tangible, but being open to whats outside can offer a perspective. Thinking outside the box is great, but it cannot stop there. To truly find the solution we must act on. I found a quotes I liked and shared. 

"A person who sees a problem is a human being; a person who finds a solution is visionary; and the person who goes out and does something about it is an entrepreneur." - Naveen Jain

Proper progress involves thinking, but finally acting on those thoughts. Think outside the box for those unseen solutions that our brains often cover, then act on it 

Day one complete. 

Steven Hovermale