What does it mean?
Developing the ability to think differently. To see an issue from more than one perspective. To remain open to new ideas that cause you to change your mind. Considering many options for solving a problem.
Why does it matter?
A flexible mind will allow you to develop a more complete understanding of any topic. With a flexible mind you are able to explore multiple perspectives and options and in doing so evaluate which is the best. Flexible thinking allows you to develop a large tool kit of strategies to bring to unique problems. Flexible thinking is what makes the human brain more powerful than machines that are limited to one way of operating.
When should you use it?
Particularly when you are faced by a situation where your initial impression is stopping you from finding a solution or understanding a topic fully. When you use the same approach too often. When you are confronted by a different point of view and need to understand another persons perspective.
In this collection of moments from the series 'Man vs Wild' Bear Grylls shows many situations where he has to think differently to overcome the challenges he encounters in the wild. Adapting to new situations and using the resources you have is an essential element of survival training, what strategies can you spot in this video?
5 Top Strategies:
- Consider alternatives, look at it from a different point of view,
- When brainstorming as a group avoid 'Group Think' by using a Think, Pair, Share strategy where you begin planning individually, then in pairs where you compare ideas and then share the best of these with the group.
- Make Lists - Set a target number of ideas to suit the task and force yourself to generate a minimum number of different ideas
- Listen to others and be sure that you are understanding them through reflective listening where you respond by saying 'So you have told me that. . . and you think this because . . .?'
- Prove you understand a topic by explaining it in another way or solving the solution with a new method, or by working backwards from the answer to the question.
5 Questions to ask about your thinking:
- What makes you think that?
- What is your point of view on the topic and how does that compare with another persons? Who would share your point of view, who would think differently on the topic? Why?
- Evaluate your solution? Is it genuinely the best?
- Go back to the beginning and re-think the problem. What is it asking you to do or learn?
- Would your solution work if . . .? What if you . . .?
Thinking Routines for Thinking Flexibly
- I used to think . . . Now I think . . . - Use this routine to make visible how your thinking has changed over the course of a learning experience. View the change as a positive and celebrate the personal growth. Then go beyond by describing 'What made you change your thinking?'.
- Think, Pair, Share - Begin by considering options or responses by yourself. Give this process some time and then share your ideas with a partner. Once you have explained your ideas to your partner and listened to their thinking, share your combined ideas with the larger group. This can maximise the options available to the group and increases the power of many minds working together.
- True for Who? - Discuss a given situation thinking about the circumstances of the decision, the people involved, what was at stake, what were the interests and goals of the people involved. Collect this information into a chart and group ideas by points of view. Now use that information to Dramatise the thinking that led to the original decision. Each person uses the chart to respond to three questions:
My point of view is . . .
I think this claim is true/false/uncertain because . . .
What would convince me to change my mind is . . .
Some group members should observe this dramatisation and then reflect on what they have seen and heard.
- Options Diamond - Good for weighing two conflicting options where making one decision means something or someone misses out. Use a Diamond shape with the two options on either side of the diamond. Below the centre line place options that make a compromise between the two, place ideas near or far from original two options and high or low in the diamond based on how much is compromised. Above the line place ideas that combine the two options in ways so that both goals are met. See the example: