Challenge the borders of your thinking

I know that a network map of the brain is a thing. I wonder if there is a way you could map your conceptual understanding beyond a simple mind map.

Stick with me as I explore this idea of a “map of our thinking” out loud, it has been something I have long pondered and used in discussions with others. I would primarily refer to it when talking about how provocation changes our thinking.

  • Say we could create a spatial representation of what we know about a topic.
  • It might take up a certain area and have borders.
  • It might be something we can draw.
  • Perhaps there are neighbouring relevant topics.
  • Let’s say the size is relative to our understanding, the bigger the area the more we understand about that topic.
  • We might also be able to quantify the amount of knowledge there is for any given topic, leading to a point of reference of what potential understanding there still is to discover.
  • This map is not necessarily about the connections like a mind map, but more about the aggregate “space” the discovered or known concepts take up.
  • There would be an edge. A thinking border.
  • There would be unknown territory still to be discovered.

So what happens when the borders change.

I have always wondered about the power of using provocation to challenge our thinking. To challenge the borders of what we know. I imagine a provocation being something like a newly discovered perspective on an issue or a series of facts previously not seen. All manner of things can serve as a provocation. They would break that thinking border and create a new space on the map, forcing us to draw a new edge of our thinking. That newly identified space and albeit uncharted thinking would then need some exploring, some thinking and processing. But it would soon be subsumed within the wider map of what we know about that topic.

De Bono refers to how provocations can create movement in our thinking if they are used to challenge a set of ideas. Perhaps the borders of our conceptual understanding become equally fluid when we are faced with different provocations. Perhaps those borders shift and expand, contract and become redrawn as we continue to learn.

Tom Barrett

Tom is a writer, speaker and consultant. He has been sharing his thoughts on teaching, learning, curiosity and creativity on this blog for over 10 years. Drinking coffee and writing would be his idea of a perfect day.

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Sheri Wales
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Sheri Wales
7 months 17 days ago
I am currently researching how design thinking could promote students problem solving in the 21st century. Design thinking allows the students to go through a process where they are able to be creative, and to be aware that they are in a creative or innovative age, where things that they are so used to consuming, are being redesigned. Benavidez (2011) stated that design thinking is a collaborative process. It encourages students to design their learning experience. It’s an optimistic, proactive approach. Design thinking is another away to see and embrace the world. It’s a mindset, which you have clearly explained,… Read more »
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