Derek Cabrera and Teaching Thinking with DSRP

Derek Cabrera  is an impressive character – superbright and does good social entrepreneur work.   He’s also decided that thinking can be taught with something called DSRP – Distinctions, Systems, Relationships, and Perspectives.  His new book “Thinking at Every Desk” looks interesting , especially in the knowledge that teachers like Jennifer Orr seem to be getting great results with it as do the various other people listed at Cabrera Research. Definitely food for thought.

Reinventing British manners the Post-It way

Design thinking goes like this: firstly, immersion, whereby the designers research the problem by plunging themselves into it – talking to the people they're trying to help, working with them, interviewing experts. Secondly, synthesis – whereby they gather together their findings and look for patterns. Third, ideation – brainstorming solutions to the real problems identified by stage two. Then comes prototyping, making mock-ups of solutions to try out against the problem. After that comes the product. Only at the end, at the prototyping stage, are judgments made; until then, all ideas are given equal weight.

… design thinking places the designer at the heart of the innovation process… the methodology gives a firm framework within which a wider team can work. It takes the cliché of the lone creative mind being struck with genius, and replaces it with a process that a whole team can follow. Creativity, therefore, isn't a thing that magically appears, but a process you work through.

Source: here

Umberto Eco: The lost art of handwriting

writing by hand obliges us to compose the phrase mentally before writing it down. Thanks to the resistance of pen and paper, it does make one slow down and think…

It's true that kids will write more and more on computers and cellphones. Nonetheless, humanity has learned to rediscover as sports and aesthetic pleasures many things that civilisation had eliminated as unnecessary.

People no longer travel on horseback but some go to a riding school; motor yachts exist but many people are as devoted to true sailing as the Phoenicians of 3,000 years ago; there are tunnels and railroads but many still enjoy walking or climbing Alpine passes; people collect stamps even in the age of email; and armies go to war with Kalashnikovs but we also hold peaceful fencing tournaments.

It would be a good thing if parents sent kids off to handwriting schools so they could take part in competitions and tournaments

Source: here

Lateral thinking overrated

a number of detailed reports of scientific discovery, artistic creativity, and invention are available, including Darwin’s notebooks on the development of his theory of evolution, Watson’s report of the discovery of the structure of the DNA molecule, Picassos preliminary sketches for several of his most famous paintings, and Edison’s notebooks on the invention of the kinetoscope. These examples are covered in detail in later chapters [of this book], and nothing like divergent thinking is evident in any of them. Thus, although it seems reasonable to Guilford that producing many and varied ideas through “divergent” or “lateral” thinking ought to be a cornerstone of creative thinking, this idea does not seem to be correct.

Source: here

Proof, Dodgy Theories and Disconfirmation

We’re pretty bad at theories, it seems, because we don’t really look for disconfirmation.

In Dan Gardner’s book Risk, he recounts an experiment done to show this that was conducted by Peter Watson.

The challenge is pretty simple: given 3 numbers in sequence, can you figure out what the rule is?  Participants were allowed to write down 3 different numbers to see whether they followed the rule, and try this as many times as they wanted.

So here are the numbers: 2, 4 and 6.

It seems pretty normal, so most would then ask the researchers whether these numbers fitted the rule:

8, 10, and 12.  And yes, they do.

And if they wanted more vigorous testing, they would ask whether the following sets of numbers followed the rule:

14, 16, 18 or 100, 102, 104.  And yes, both do follow the rule

So what’s the rule?  Well most said that it was “any 3 even numbers ascending by 2 each time”.  And they were wrong.  That’s not the rule.  The correct rule is: “any 3 numbers in ascending order”.

What had happened, it seems, is that people didn’t try to disconfirm the rule.  They didn’t ask, for example, whether “3,4,5” followed the rule.

As Dan Gardner says,

“most people do not try to disconfirm.  They do the opposite, trying to confirm the rule by looking for examples that fit it.  That’s a futile strategy.  No matter how many examples are piled up, they can never prove that the belief is correct.  Confirmation doesn’t work”

Something I need to bear in mind while trawling the myriad posts on Everything 2.0.  It seems it’s better to look for indications that I’m wrong rather than bask in the warm webby-goodness of confirmed 2.0 successes.  And intuitively that makes sense.  Rigour is surely preferable to comfort.

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