It was a rather lousy day for me, the sleep debt I hadn’t repaid from the previous night kept on haggling for attention making it extremely difficult for me to stay conscious and I was obviously struggling to keep on a serious face for my training that was due in a few minutes.
It bothered me that I was going to have to sit through a learning session yet I wasn’t in the right frame of mind.
A few minutes later one of my trainers; Simon walked in from his office which is just adjacent to the learning room and introduced what was on the menu for the day.
“Today” he said, “Am going to teach you how to think outside the box with this small exercise”.
In accompaniment to his words he scribbled down two letters, an “I” and closely following it behind an “X”, it was probably the loneliest set of letters I had ever encountered in a learning environment, the two letters written in bold stood out on the white board making the Wifi password on the top right of board look deserted.
With the inscriptions on the whiteboard came instructions that prompted us to add a line to make the two letters turn into six using a simple line.
It was the most harmless looking set of letters that I felt denoted nine as written in Roman numerals yet with the inclusion of instructions they gained a notoriety that pushed me and my three colleagues into a frenzy of hard thought.
We were given five minutes to crack the puzzle which at this stage appeared to be almost impossible and to add fire to the already burning flame the extra instructions clearly indicated an existence of three possible answers which further complicated our attempts to get a solution to the question at hand.
This wasn’t video production, scripting or even online journalism or any of my course related sciences; at this stage the emphasis was on our mental prowess and as it stood it wasn’t going very well for me and my colleagues.
Three minutes elapsed without my notice and with two minutes left according to a display by the customized media Challenge Initiative wall clock, I realized that I had to scribble an answer; even if it meant presenting a wrong one, I had to account for the five minutes we had been given to seek solutions and the answer obviously wasn’t in the blue manicured walls of the room.
So I wrote the figure “IX” as one on the assumption that it was a Roman numeral version of nine and after a few seconds of thought added a horizontal line just in the middle of the two letters and turned the paper upside down to reveal a “VI” which in Roman numerals denotes a six and with that I heaved a sigh of relief and laid my pen onto the paper.
In the next minutes he presented the solutions to the question including my answer and the most annoying answer I hadn’t figured out turned to be “S” added to IX to make it six owing to the fact that “S” had curved lines n and a line didn’t necessarily need to be straight as we had been thinking all morning.
Through out the day we went through video production exercises but this time i had loosened up, finally the lousiness had won off and in its place came an excitement that forced me into daring myself to learn new things, lessons in photography followed and it all suddenly appeared easy thanks to the divergent thinking lesson had got that day.
As a critical thinker, you had to open up your mind and think in all directions and not limit yourself to the set spheres, objectivity is definitely a key element in thinking critically because if you could think and surpass the set boundaries then finding solutions to problems would come a little bit more easier.
I had learnt a major lesson and it wasn’t a mathematics or about figures but it was a in the element of thinking beyond the set barriers; that was what my trainer Simon had meant when he said “At the Media Challenge Academy it was more than theory and practice” I had also learnt solutions based thinking and it wasn’t a bad way to end a week.