CoRT 4 - CREATIVITY
This section is different from the previous Results sections (CoRT 1, CoRT 2 and CoRT 3). The results shown here are in fact obtained from adults. The purpose of including them here is to show that a new concept as such can have an effect on people's thinking. Once we accept that concept tools can have an effect on thinking then we may be more inclined to teach such concept tools in particular and thinking as a skill in general. Throughout the CoRT 1 lessons, various thinking operations have been crystallised into tools that are more usable than general statements. For instance, PMI is more immediately usable than an admonition to consider the pros and cons and the points of interest. The OPV is more immediately usable than a warning to consider other people's views. The ADI is more immediately usable than an intention to map out areas of agreement, disagreement or irrelevance. The concept tool used in the experiments described below is in fact much more fundamental than any of these tools.
The artificial word po is a way if responding to a situation outside of judgement. Tile creative use of po is described in detail in the Lesson Notes. The use described below is the reactive use: that is to say the use of po as a response to avoid being forced into a polarised position.
In thinking, the mind has to have something to do. It is more uncomfortable to have a "void" in which nothing is happening. The simplest thing to do is to judge a situation. In fact much evidence from the thinking of children and others shows that judgement is the most usual response when they are faced with any new situation: do I like it or do I not like it? Is it true or is it false? Once such a judgement has been made, the rest of the thinking is used to support that judgement instead of exploring the situation. The PMI is a device for avoiding immediate judgement since it directs attention to both sides of the judgement (plus points, as well as minus points). Used as a response, the new word po also acts as a judgement-avoiding device by allowing a person to treat an idea as worth exploring. The danger of immediate judgement is that it creates unnecessary polarisation. Most often people are forced into a "yes" or "no" box simply because they cannot see themselves in the opposite camp.
A number of statements were put to the following groups:
� 123 young teachers
� 196 science students at a university
� 78 civil servants
� 215 mixed college lecturers and graduates
Each group was divided into two halves depending on whether their birthday fell on an odd or even date in the month. One half was asked to respond in an agree/disagree fashion, (Yes/No), and the other half was allowed to use the additional category of po. A scale of conviction was also used so that Yes-1 meant a mild degree of certainty but Yes-5 meant the maximum certainty (with the same for No). Po was explained very briefly as a device which meant that the user was operating outside the judgement system and wanted to treat the proposal as an idea to explore.
Statement: Capitalism as a system has done more good than harm to society.
young teachers 89/11 56/18/26
science students 7/13 50/ 4/46
civil servants 78/22 40/15/45
mixed graduates 93/ 7 48/ 4/48
The uniformity of response in the YES/NO percentages is perhaps surprising. The addition of the po opportunity made a big difference to all groups, reducing the Yes and No percentages by roughly similar amounts. The po response is in itself remarkably similar between the groups.
Statement: Democracy is not necessarily the best political system for every country.
young teachers 30/70 20/44/36
science students 27/73 20/13/67
civil servants 44/56 30/45/25
mixed graduates 20/80 5/40/55
In this experiment more than 50 percent of those saying No did so with a 4 or 5 degree of certainty. Even so the addition of the po opportunity reduced the No response from 73 percent to the 13 percent with the science students, who might have been expected to oppose the statement.
Statement: Cannabis is less harmful than alcohol and should be made legal.
young teachers 55/45 28/33/39
science students 39/61 5/34/61
civil servants 16/84 0/53/47
mixed graduates 52/48 13/28/59
The interesting point with this example is that the Yes response (in favour of cannabis) was reduced very considerably by the po opportunity (from 55 to 28 percent; from 39 to 5 percent; from 16 to 0 percent; from 52 to 13 percent). This suggests that these people could not see themselves in the anti-cannabis camp but did not really want to commit themselves to the pro-cannabis camp. They much preferred treating the statement as a subject for exploration.
Statement: "What you can get away with" is the basic ethic of modern society
young teachers 50/50 31/40/29
science students 40/60 22/39/39
civil servants 42/58 27/42/31
mixed graduates 34/66 19/19/62
In this example it is interesting to note that with the teachers, science students and civil servants the Yes response is most reduced by the po opportunity, but with the mixed graduates it is the No response which is reduced.
It may be argued that the addition of the po opportunity has not really changed the thinking or attitude of those taking part in the experiment but has simply given the subjects a different category into which they could put their response. If that category were to be removed they would revert to their Yes/No positions. This is a fair comment and it is exactly what the experiment was about. The purpose of the experiment was to show that an artificial device like po can change people's behaviour while it is present. The purpose of thinking lessons is to encourage such attitudes and devices to become a permanent part of thinking so that a student is able to use the po response when wished. No claim is made that innate thinking ability has been altered but that the provision of a concept tool does make a difference.
The above experiment showed the use of po as a response. This aspect of po is not specifically addressed in these lessons. Po is introduced as an indicator that the user wants to operate outside the judgement system for the time being. The directly creative use of po is the provocative use. For instance, a random word may be introduced and juxtaposed with the problem in order to set off new ideas: "soda-siphon po earrings."
In an actual experiment a group of 44 adults was given the concrete problem of inventing a device which could let the user of solid-walled soda-siphons know when the siphon was about to run dry. For five minutes the group used their natural creativity to try to solve the problem. Then a random word was introduced "soda-siphon po earrings." The group tackled the problem again. All the suggestions were then pooled and the group voted to decide which suggestion they preferred. Seventy percent of the group voted for a suggestion that involved dangling a hollow plastic ball from the central tube of the siphon. When the fluid level was above a certain point the ball would float and therefore would be undetectable. When the level fell below this point the ball would dangle freely and strike against the side of the siphon whenever the siphon was lifted - therefore indicating the imminent emptiness of the siphon. This idea occurred once before the introduction of the random word and fourteen times afterwards. In hindsight it is easy to see how the word "earring" suggested an acoustic element and also something that was dangling.