On one of my frequent meanderings through the massive garden of Internet awesomeness, I happened upon a site that I had saved but forgotten in the mad crush of life and “stuff.”  As before, it caught my eye (probably because it contains a load of brightly-colored cartoons). One creation in particular made me pause and think.

Inside or Outside the Box

The whole premise of the cartoon is to challenge the common perception that thinking “outside the box” is the hallmark of creativity. I know I’ve told my students to try “thinking outside the box” before (probably more times than I remember). But really, does anyone know what that means? And now I’m wondering if perhaps I should have told them to stay inside the box, deconstruct it, reimagine it, and make it into something entirely different.

Here’s the cartoon by Grant Snider of Incidental Comics. My continuing thoughts on how this applies to reality are after the jump:


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So how do you apply something like this to real life? Instead of a new project, try to twist it. Instead of having my students write a poem, could I give them a picture, have them write a poem, and then give that poem to a different group of students and have them go take a photograph that represents the poem?

What if instead of a simple (and boring) presentation of content (a PPT or Prezi or whatever), what if students did it like those round-robin stories? One student starts the presentation and stops after one minute. Then, another student takes over and continues where he/she left off. And so on.

Maybe instead of giving them all the variables, I just give them a problem and see what they do with it. Maybe it becomes something like this TED talk by Dan Meyer:

I don’t know if this is an every day kind of thing, but it should be a sometimes thing (at least).

My Box

I don’t know if I think inside the box enough. I don’t know if I take something familiar, tear it apart, and then reconstruct it often enough. I’m not always sure I’m brave enough or insightful enough or “creative” enough. Or maybe I am.

What do you think? Are you an inside the box person or an outside the box person? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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