Not Anyone is Able to Learn Lateral Thinking

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Not Anyone is Able to Learn Lateral Thinking
G.J. van Beeck Calkoen, Member
I am not sure about that everyone could learn lateral thinking. I several times failed to even get a pupil to grips with the principles. I assume they had a psychological barrier, caused by successes in rational thinking at university and also that learning by explanation is the only way of learning.

Thinking Outside the Box can be Learned
Jose Pin, Member
Lateral thinking seems like the ability to think outside the box. To have the capacity of breaking a problem down to its basis elements. Not everyone can do it per se, but this skill can certainly be obtained by "bending" pre-established notions.
How? Everyday practice with small irrelevant events that occur in our surroundings. The challenge is to be able to break our habits. Don´t think that there is one and only one solution for a certain problem. Solution is merely a method and there can be a lot of methods, as long as we keep our eyes on the main goal: resolve!

Lateral Thinking is Hard
Henry Egidius, Member
Lateral thinking is difficult because you have to step outside the trail you and others usually follow. In Swedish we call it "alternativseende" which is a rare ability to "look for alternatives" instead of being caught in habitual thinking.

Lateral Thinking Needs Unlearning
Ali Sumner, Member
Hi Jose and Henry, I have trained people in authentic lateral thinking (lateral thinking tools invented by Edward De Bono the inventor of the term, definition and tools of lateral thinking) for 10 years.
Yes, it can be hard for people to learn how to use these tools, mostly because they have difficulty with the cognitive skill of 'provocation', and, following this, the cognitive skill of 'movement' - the two essential skills of lateral thinking as opposed to just being a lateral thinker.
Why do they have problems? Because the processes of logic, analysis and critical thinking have not yet been un-learned by them.

Lateral Thinking is Hard
G.J. van Beeck Calkoen, Member
Hi Ali, with respect, you set up a rather circular reasoning: people don't learn non-logic, non-analysis and non-critical thinking because they have not yet been un-learned.
Could you tell me from your experiences what causes the difficulties to un-learn? Could you suggest some possibilities?

Lateral Thinking is Hard
Ali Sumner, Member
Hi G.J., in my experience, when people are learning to use the lateral thinking tools of provocation and movement some of them automatically default to the more prominent thinking process they have previously learned (mostly in school), analysis (the thinking behaviour that relies on the learned process of logic: compare, judge, decide, eliminate the 'wrong' fit from the 'right' fit, then decide what is right), logic being based on 'a' cannot be 'not-a'...
Analysis is however the antithesis to lateral thinking so it has to be deliberately not used and replaced with a completely opposite thinking process.
I consider this to be a task of 'un-learning' in order to learn a new process.
What causes the difficulties in this unlearning process? Analysis is learned from a very very young age in 'western' culture. It becomes implicit and automatic, so people default to analysis unconsciously. Also the motivation to unlearn the automatic defaulting is a factor.


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