Creativity Challenge - Day 6 "Thinking Outside of the Box"

Noah asked me yesterday what this meant:

"Thinking outside of the box" (love him!!!)

We've all heard this phrase before, and we know what it means... think creatively, think differently, be unhindered by norms.  But, where did it come from?  Well, I looked it up and apparently it's reminiscent of an old logic puzzle developed in 1914, the nine dot puzzle.  This is a puzzle with which I am well acquainted.  In fact, Josh and I have already introduced our children to it... funny it has lasted for so long!  Other speculations of the origin of the phrase were by a paper in 1945 that alluded to 'blue sky thinking'.  I will forever associate outside the box thinking with Shirley Jackson's short story "The Lottery" which she wrote in 1948.  This link is great because it comes with questions to ponder after reading.  I highly recommend reading it if you haven't!  The box isn't a new image for us to use.

I think of Schrodinger's cat in his mystery box of poison and how it's alive and dead until we face the truth of its existence.
I think of Pandora's box... with all the evil being let out into the world when we succumb to curiosity instead of obedience to our box-makers.  Hello Eve's apple in the garden of Eden.
I think of a prison cell.
I think of a million pop songs that call out for someone to wake them up, pull them out, break chains, shatter things, shine lights... all versions of being trapped.
I think of the Matrix and how "ignorance is bliss".

There's an interesting concept being pushed through these stories we've enjoyed for centuries.  There is knowledge outside of the constraints of convention, but with that knowledge comes the pain of having to change.  What's left in the box?  Hope.  Interesting... it seems we have warring ideas in these myths.  On one hand we have praised outside thinking, but on the other we have warned against leaving the comfort of our little boxes.  Until we know the truth, we can enjoy the luxury of no responsibility or pain.  Until I am diagnosed, I am cancer free.  Is that what you want?  It's a question we all have to decide for ourselves in every situation we encounter that has us in a box.

I told Noah the hardest part of thinking outside the box is first realizing you're in a box to begin with.  It requires you to constantly ask yourself "why" about everything.  What are your goals with this action?  Why?  Is this action helping you reach them? Why or why not?  Here's the example we came up with.

Let's say you're a math teacher... if you decide your goal is to teach a method, you'll ask your students to use that method to solve a problem... but why is that your goal?  Should it be your goal?  What if you changed your goal to be helping students find the right answer?  Is your method still meeting or reflecting that goal or do you have to change?  Are our beliefs based on evidence?  Why do we have certain values?

Once we find the boxes in which we reside, we have an opportunity to figure out what they look like and how to break out of them.  It requires an intense amount of self-analysis.  My goal today is to really think about what boxes I'm in and why, and whether or not it's time to leave the comfort of those constraints.  Noah has decided to call it 25 to the 25th because "y" is the 25th letter and we should ask why over and over again.  He's amazing :)


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