FIND OTHER WAYS
The lesson title stands for "Find other ways of looking at things." This clumsy title covers the basic process of trying to find alternative perceptions. When you find a different way of looking at something, you open up new ideas and new lines of thought. If you escape from a fixed way of looking at the problem, you may be able to solve it more easily. For instance, you can look at monarchy as antiquated and expensive or as a system which averts a more dangerous selection for the head of state.
(*There is more than one way of looking at anything. Your thinking can he more effective if you make a deliberate effort to find alternative ways of looking at things.
Ask the question:
Are there other ways of looking at this?
8 x 2, 4 x 4, 32/2 are alternative ways of looking at 16.
A bottle that is half empty, a bottle that is half full, and a bottle that contains equal amounts of milk and air are all alternative ways of Iooking at half a pint of milk in a one pint bottle.
A refrigerator is a device for keeping food cool. An alternative way of looking at a refrigerator is as a device for transferring money from those who buy refrigerators to those who make them.)
The emphasis of the lesson is on the deliberate effort to find other ways of looking at things even when there seems no need to do so. This is a vital point. It may seem unnecessary, wasteful, or confusing to search for other ways when the obvious way seems adequate. But the obvious way will always seem adequate until a better way has been found. That is why this basic process is so neglected. That is why there has to be a deliberate effort to search, and this is set off by the question:
Are there other ways of looking at this?
The other ways may turn out to be other points of view. This was discussed in the OPV lesson in CoRT 1. The difference is that in the OPV lesson you looked at a person and then tried to see his/her point of view. In this lesson you try to find other perceptions and may then discover that these fit different people. The Alternatives lesson (APC) was concerned with finding alternative choices of action - not just different ways of looking at something. Other ways may also arise from a different emphasis or from focusing on a different part of the situation. Finally, they may arise from a genuine exercise of lateral thinking (e.g., an exam is a method of testing what you know / an exam is a method for testing what you do not know). It does not matter how the alternative ways arise. What really matters is the escape from the feeling that there is only one way to look at this.
Alternative ways of looking at something may come from many sources:
- Lateral thinking: Voters can be said to vote for the candidate they like or they can be said to vote against the candidate they dislike.
- Other point of view (OPV): Strikes are viewed as a genuine bargaining device by unions but as an unnecessary work disruption by employers.
- Different focus: A car can be looked at in terms of power and performance or in terms of comfort and appearance. Also as a means of getting to work or a source of traffic congestion.
It does not matter how the alternatives arise - the important thing is to make a deliberate effort to find some. The alternatives may not turn out to be more useful but the effort to find them does increase the effectiveness of thinking by opening up new ideas.
The lesson should start with a local example. For instance, the class may be invited by the teacher to find different ways of looking at vacations.
- to give students a rest
- to give teachers a rest
- to lessen the cost of education
- to allow students to do other things
- so that students can work harder during the term
(See Practice section of student's notes (B))
The students work in groups but the teacher may ask individuals for comments or answers.
For each of the following there is at least one alternative way of looking at things:
- A chicken is a method for producing eggs.
- A woman is taking an energetic dog for a walk.
- An exam is a method of testing what you know.)
This is a very quick item and can be used almost as an extension of the examples. It can be used with groups or individuals. There is no need for thinking time. Each item can be asked of a separate group.
- An egg is a method for producing chickens.
- The dog is taking the woman for a walk.
- An exam is for testing what you do not know.
2. Girls and women often wear make-up. Can you find four alternative ways of looking at the reasons for this?
3.** Thousands of people die every year in traffic accidents. Can you find two alternative ways of looking at this problem?
4. Police officers, soldiers, hospital nurses, and some students wear uniforms. What are the alternative ways of looking at uniforms?)
Choose one item from these three. The groups work on the item for about 5 minutes. The teacher must stress the need to find different ways of looking at the matter: "Find as many different ways as you can." one group is then asked to give its output and the other groups can add to this or comment.
The teacher may make a master list of all the alternatives on the blackboard. The important thing is that it be a list of different ways of looking at the matter - not different things that could be said about it.
Item 2: As an aid to beauty to hide blemishes, because everyone else does, because advertisements are so good, just a custom.
Item 3: A necessary price to pay for having fast individual transportation, an expression of people's carelessness, publicising this could be a way of making people drive better.
Item 4: So that they are recognisable, so that they have the feeling of belonging to a particular group, so they do not have to wear their ordinary clothes for work, because uniforms are specially designed for the work.
Do you agree with the following alternative ways of looking at school?
- A way of teaching young people the knowledge and skills they need in life.
- A way of keeping children out of the home and giving them something to do.
- A way of giving jobs to school principals, teachers and everyone in education.
- An opportunity for boys and girls to teach themselves if they want to.
- A way of training for a job that will later pay you money.)
All groups tackle this item. It may also be done on an individual basis, with the teacher asking different students. The point here is to decide whether the suggestion is really a different way of looking at school - and then to decide whether one agrees with it or not. It may be a genuine alternative way and one can still disagree with it.
6.** How many different ways can you find of looking at money?
7.** A new protein food is invented. It is very nutritious but it tastes so bad that people will not eat it even if they are starving. How many different approaches to this problem can you suggest?
8. Three boys are found guilty of starting a hotel fire in which a person was killed. They say they only meant to start a small fire for fun. If you were the judge, in how many alternative ways could you look at this?)
Choose one item from among these three. The groups work on the item for 4-5 minutes. At the end of this time, the teacher tries to collect from all groups as many different ways of looking at the matter as possible. These can be listed on a blackboard. Some discussion may be allowed. The important point is to distinguish different ways not just to talk about the matter.
Item 6: A status symbol and social order device. a reward and incentive system. an exchange device with a storage element. a control system.
Item 7: Regard it as medicine and not food at all, mix it with something else. publicity and education may make the taste acceptable, incorporate anesthetic to dull the taste.
Item 8: Guilty of murder whether they intended it or not, the death was not intended but accidental, punish them as a warning to others, imprisonment may make real criminals of them, stupidity is not a crime; society must protect itself from dangerous people.
(See Process section of student's notes (A))
Open discussion with class as a whole, acting as individuals rather than groups:
- Does an alternative have to say exactly the same thing but in a different way?
- When is it useful to look at alternatives?
- What is the difference between an alternative and an OPV (other people's views)?
- Who decides whether an alternative is right or wrong?