Power tools

 

This week at the Carrot Ranch Charli Mills has challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) include a tool in a story. I open this post with a quote by Jackie French I used to close my previous post.

Jackie French - books - tools

Books are a great tool. So is the ability to think creatively.

Being literate is a key that opens many doors. Being able to think opens many more. You could say they are the power tools of education and success.

In his book The Outliers (recommended to me by Rowena who blogs at Beyond the Flow), Malcolm Gladwell talks about the role of intelligence in success. He says that “intelligence only matters up to a point”, and that “past that point, other things — things that have nothing to do with intelligence — must start to matter more”. He raises the question of what those things are.

He makes a suggestion to

“Write down as many different uses that you can think of for the following objects:

  1. a brick
  2. a blanket”

and calls it a “divergence test”. Rather than asking you to come up with a one right answer, a divergence test “requires you to use your imagination and take your mind in as many different directions as possible.”

Gladwell describes the test as a measure of creativity, of the ability to come up with imaginative and unique responses rather than a list of commonplace uses. He considers this imaginative thinking combined with intelligence, not intelligence alone, to be what is required to make new discoveries such as those that may be awarded Nobel Prizes.

Can this sort of creative thinking be taught?

Edward de Bono certainly thinks so. As long ago, dare I say, as the late 60s I read (and did) The Five Day Course in Thinking, a series of puzzles to help readers (thinkers) understand their thinking strategies. The puzzles in the book are divided into three sections: Insight Thinking, Sequential Thinking, and Strategic Thinking.

Over the years I read a number of de Bono’s books including but not limited to Lateral Thinking, Six Thinking Hats, How to Have a Beautiful Mind, Teach Your Child How to Think, Textbook of Wisdom and Why I Want to Be King of Australia. I had a thirst for learning how to think, as thinking had not been encouraged and memorising content had not come easily in my younger years. Discovering that I was able to think, and think outside the box, was empowering.

I enjoyed using de Bono’s strategies and teaching them to my own children as well as to children in my classrooms over the years. His Six Thinking Hats are used in classrooms worldwide as are many others of his thinking strategies.

six hats

In this video de Bono talks about creativity, creative thinking, and thinking “outside the box”:

Tony Ryan is another educator who believes it can. He has published a number of books that aim to get students thinking in creative ways. His Thinkers Keys “a powerful program for teaching children to become extraordinary thinkers” is designed to do just that.

Tony Ryan says that we now need to think beyond the square and think “outside the dodecahedron”.

In a comment on a previous post about Lifetime Changes, Steven linked to an amusing video showing the reactions of 21st century children to our earliest computers, tools of technology. This is it in case you missed it:

I combined the notions of books, creative thinking and technology as tools for learning, productivity and success with a little bit of backward (historical) thinking to inspire my futuristic flash this week. I hope you enjoy it.

tools for learning

Relic

The family shuffled amongst the haphazard collection of primitive artefacts without attempting to disguise disinterest or disdain. The waiting seemed interminable in this “so-last-century” outpost.

Haven’s seen one of these before,” they’d been told. “I’ll need to order a specialized tool as well as the part. Shouldn’t take long though. Look around while you wait.”

Confidence in the simpleton’s tools “upstairs”, even if the correct parts arrived, was as low as their interest.

Hey look!” one called. “Is this …?”

Can’t be.”

All destroyed centuries ago.”

Would be worth a fortune though.’’

They opened it.

A book!” they gasped.

Thank you

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts about any aspect of this post or flash fiction.

41 thoughts on “Power tools

  1. julespaige

    I finally got to this wonderful post. I just wish I had more time too look at all the links.
    At least this year with just Little Miss (sometimes when I don’t also nap) I get to catch up on blog posts!

    I love books!!! And I just love it when Little Miss goes to the shelf she can reach to look for her favorite books at Grama’s house 🙂

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    1. Norah Post author

      How gorgeous! Little Miss must love spending time at Grama’s house reading books.
      Today when my little ones came to visit they asked to make another book. I love it when they sit on my knees at the computer dictating their stories for me to type and print off. The printing is important.
      Gorgeous 1 (6 years) wrote a beautiful futuristic story today. It reminded me a little of my flash!
      Gorgeous 2 (just turned 4) was funny. She wanted me to write her story but didn’t want to tell me it as it was “a surprise”! How cute! 🙂

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      1. julespaige

        How cut is that Gorgeous 2 wanting you to be surprised. I wrote out Son of Sons stories on his illustrated pages. And attempted to copy them – yellow doesn’t show up very well. And Mommy and Daddy have the originals. Little Miss is starting to recognize her letters. And is asking how to make them. I always encourage her at this point to make her lines and colors however she wold like to. I notice that she still switches hands (Son of Son is like his Dad a lefty). And her lines are getting more sophisticated. Just yesterday she was drawing a car and put circles under it for wheels. Though you really couldn’t tell what it was if you weren’t in the know. And it was funny that if she didn’t like what she drew she erased it by scribbling a darker color on top of the first drawing. I have no idea where she got that idea from!

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        1. Norah Post author

          Thank you for sharing those stories of Son of Son and Little Miss. I like those terms. It is wonderful to be able to share in their development isn’t it? Quite a privilege I think. I love what you said about Little Miss’s drawing of a car. Her erasing it by applying a darker colour reminds me of the “masters” who often painted over parts, indeed even the whole, of paintings they didn’t like. She might be a great artist in the making. 🙂

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  2. Sherri

    I remember a line from a movie I watched with my family years ago called ‘Mousehunt’ with Nathan Lane and Lee Evans that goes: ‘A life without string is chaos’. It’s comedy and hilarious but also touching, about a string factory, a family’s inheritance going badly wrong and a certain little mouse. I recommend it! And Norah, I was reminded of that line as I read your, as always, thought-provoking post as I thought that a world without books would be chaos and utterly depressing, to me. I resisted getting a Kindle for so many reasons, but my Paperwhite has proved to be so helpful as I read books at night and the backlight is great. Also it means I can get books a lot cheaper! But a real, actual book, well, nothing beats it does it? The feel, the smell, being able to flip back and forth, as I am want to do, just isn’t the same with a Kindle… I always thought my family was a bit weird, beating to a different drum you know? But I call it thinking outside the box as I think that sounds better, ha! I love how I come over to read you and every time, you get me thinking outside that box in so many different ways. You set my thoughts alight Norah, and for that I thank you greatly. You help distract me from the struggles in life that sometimes become overwhelming; you help me look past those into what is good and strong in my family life, with the help of those power tools… ❤

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      1. Sarah Brentyn

        Actually, that is really interesting. And true. Still…I do love the feel of a book in my hands. And the smell. ❤ But, by the time Lucia's talking about, I probably won't be here anymore. This generation (certainly the next) won't find it odd at all to be completely digital. It's evolving, but I find it sad.

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  3. stuckinscared

    What an interesting post, Norah… though I had to snap myself out of the imagi-written ‘brick’ & ‘blanket’ lists in order to take the rest of the post in… a consequence of an overactive-imaginative-currently-discombobulated-brain 🙂 – I’m a bit here and there ATM, so will come back to this one for further commenting when I can string together more than brick lists and nonsense… but for now… well done x

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    1. Norah Post author

      I’d love to read your brick list, Kimmie. I’m sure you have many imaginative uses there. I hope your discombobulated brain settles down soon and allows you to do something productive.
      Thanks for reading and sharing. 🙂

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  4. Hugh's Views and News

    I do wonder if printed books will go the same way as cassette tapes, floppy disks and flared trousers, Norah. However, there is that saying “what goes around comes around.” Certainly for me I’ve recently taken to going back to reading printed books rather than ebooks. For whatever reason I seem to get far more enjoyment from them.

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    1. Norah Post author

      I’m quite enjoying ebooks, and especially audiobooks, at the moment. I still have a pile of printed-on-paper books to read, but it’s easier to carry a library around on my tablet than it is over my shoulder. I love that aspect of it. Without audiobooks I would not get nearly as much reading done. Thanks for sharing your habits. 🙂

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  5. Pingback: Tool Time « Carrot Ranch Communications

  6. Charli Mills

    You have me wearing my thinking about thinking cap! Love the video of kids responding to ancient computer technology. I remember my first introduction to computers was that I had to write code to get it to perform, I was unimpressed! 🙂 Your flash is one I think (that word again) we bibliophiles fear — books as banned or obsolete. Great flash to tie into your post!

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thanks Charli. I enjoyed coding “Basic” and making little programs. They were so primitive but we were very proud of ourselves. I know teaching children to code is now a big thing, and I am so envious – I want to go back and learn it too -but the coding they are learning is very different from the coding we did.
      I’m pleased you enjoyed the flash and post. It’s always fun to see what I can pull out of toolbox in response to your challenges. 🙂

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  7. Paula Reed Nancarrow

    Lots of good stuff here, Norah. That video on kids reacting to old computers is amazing. When I talk about the one with 8 inch floppy disks that I wrote my dissertation on my daughter always says ‘yeah mom, I know – back when there were wood-burning computers…’

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    1. Norah Post author

      “wood-burning computers”! Love it! They just about were with all the paper we printed out. I’m so pleased that much of what I now do is paper-free. It took a while but I am now happy to do most of my work digitally.

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  8. Annecdotist

    Thanks for the reminder of what a powerful tool literacy is. I remember learning about diverging thinking would have to do a lot of revision before I could comment properly on that! Great flash, and great link back to your previous post on the things that have become obsolete even in your lifetime. You might remember a novel I reviewed earlier this year in which the printed word was no longer in use. You said it was a sci-fi novel you might just tolerate:
    http://annegoodwin.weebly.com/annecdotal/-music-memory-and-maintaining-order-the-chimes-by-anna-smaill

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thanks for reminding me of your review of “The Chimes”, Anne. Funnily enough, I still agree with myself! Especially over the final quote. I guess I was trying to portray a similar awe. Thanks for sharing your love of literacy and learning. It’s how we connected in the first place. 🙂

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  9. TanGental

    never really went for de bono; bit too motherhood and apple pie and smug know all; dad raved about lateral thinking back in the late 60s and early 70s though. maybe I was the wrong age when i read him? Liked the flash esp the ending. Neat

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    1. Norah Post author

      I’m sure that, as a lawyer, you were already engaging in much lateral thinking. Perhaps it seemed superfluous to you. How dare he tell you how to think when you already could?
      Thanks for your encouragement with the flash. How will I compete with HHGTTG?

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  10. lucciagray

    Thoughtful post and great flash!
    I’m sure books, in various forms, will always be around for some time 🙂
    There’s an interesting theory which discusses the ‘Gutenberg Parenthesis’, proposed by two Danish lecturers. They remind us that there has been a large period of history, before the printing press, which was dominated by an oral and aural culture, then came the written word and texts/culture was mediated through these printed texts. Although it started in the 15th century, it didn’t became part of popular culture until the 18th-19th centuries. Some people say we’re at the other end of the ‘Gutenberg Parenthesis’ in this digital age. In any case, I believe culture existed before paperbacks, and it will exist after, too! The way ideas and information is transmitted is just a medium or tool. What’s important is the message.
    I wonder what and how we’ll be reading in 20-30 years’ time. The mind boggles…

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    1. Norah Post author

      I hadn’t heard of the “Gutenberg Parenthesis”. What an intriguing notion. Books are a part of our world. It is difficult to imagine life without them. They are so integral to our daily lives. But to think they have only been around for a couple of hundred years, pulls me up short. Of course. Why shouldn’t they be replaced with something else? And I don’t mean ebooks. That’s just the same thing in a different format. I wonder what will replace books in all their formats, when this Parenthesis ends. Interesting thought. Thanks for sharing.

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          1. lucciagray

            📖📚✒ I couldn’t imagine my life without books or my kindle! Hope you have a wonderful Friday, or POETS Day! My Australian friend told me all about that😂😂😂

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                1. Norah Post author

                  Oh yes. I do remember now! I never got to do that much of it myself when I was working. There was always “just one more” thing to do in preparation for the following week. 🙂

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  11. Lisa Reiter

    Some really great references here Norah. Malcolm Gladwell’s ‘Outliers’ has definitely been a significant influence on my parenting, especially in allowing plenty of opportunity to explore any interest in case it is ‘the thing’.
    Meanwhile I must look more at De Bono’s thinking hats as this seems a brilliant way to examine any situation.
    Love the flash! I so hope books do not become relics.

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thanks for sharing that about “Outliers”, Lisa. It would be a wonderful resource for parenting, though I hadn’t thought of it in that way specifically. What a wonderfully informed parent you are! I’m sure your boy benefited greatly from your interest.
      I don’t think books will be relics for a while yet! (I hope!)
      Thanks for sharing, Lisa. It’s wonderful to have you “back”! 🙂

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  12. Steven

    My guess would be that futuristic/sci-fi isn’t really your genre of choice, but I think you’ve done really very well with that piece and I got a lot of enjoyment from such a short work. Admittedly I had to read it a couple of times to comprehend it, but with each pass I more fully understood the situation and appreciated the work. I can see how the “outside the box thinking” applies here.

    Even the title has a certain irony to it and adds to the intrigue of the story. A story based centuries in the future, entitled a historical artefact.

    I sensed the build-up at the end and felt the awe at the last line (even on my first read through). An awesome piece, in the true sense of the word.

    I wonder what they were getting repaired. This repairer must have a highly specialised skill set (for their time) – a mix of history and technology. I am reminded of a work colleague (probably around your age Norah) who is/was a certified telegraphist. Isn’t that “so cool” in this current time – how surreal.

    My only real criticism is the word, “order”. In centuries ahead, they will just hit the button and the tool will materialise out of thin air, although they probably won’t have buttons either! Maybe “construct”, “design” or even “make”, would have been a better choice here. But then that may have altered the remaining sequence. An understandable choice of word anyway, as it lets us 21st century folk understand what it means to “order” something.

    Well done.

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thank you Steven for such an in-depth analysis of my work. You used more than the 99 words that I was permitted! You are quite correct in your assumption that futuristic sci-fi is not my genre of choice. Perhaps I should have attempted a genre with which I am more familiar. I was trying to put myself into a future without books, and with frequent space travel. With travelers in the latest and greatest ‘breaking down’ at a remote space outpost that is not quite up to the minute with knowledge and tools.However, as you say, I probably didn’t think far enough out of the contemporary to really make it into the future. Your criticism/suggestion over the use of the word “order” is interesting, and shows how little thought I really gave to how things might be. It is difficult (for me) to imagine. I was quite tickled at the thought of someone (about my vintage) being a certified telegraphist. Telegraphs were a very important mode of communication even until my early adult years. Telegrams used to be read out at weddings, and they were quick ways of letting people around the world know about births, deaths and marriages. I remember the Telegram boys (only boys) on their bicycles delivering the telegrams. What a wonderful invention it was and what a useful tool. But now it’s very last century. They probably went out of use at about the time of your birth I imagine! Actually Wikipedia gives 1993 as the final year in Australia, but I don’t remember many after the early to mid-seventies.
      Thanks for sharing such richness of thought. Much appreciated! 🙂

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