Why The World Needs Nimble Thinkers

During an open house event March 3, I listened to stories offered by graduates of the Critical and Creative Thinking program at University of Massachusetts Boston. Their stories revealed several common themes among the program’s alumni.

While virtually seated in Boston from Colorado Springs, via an online Google+ Hangout, I heard the first graduate explain how the curriculum had caused some restlessness. She started reopening texts, revisiting ideas. Her thinking had evolved. Her view of the world had changed.

After completing the program, “I figured out just how much I had learned,” she said.

“As skills in the workplace change, people need to learn to be more nimble thinkers,” she said, an idea echoed by the surrounding alumni, and some of the program’s prospective students. “I now see a lot of grey; the world isn’t just black and white.”

“I now see a lot of grey; the world isn’t just black and white.”

The program supplied her with the tools to be a “hunter and gatherer of people for change.” Her interests in designing a more people-focused world are flourishing. She’s preoccupied with helping others pursue their passions, and inspiring them toward places they hadn’t gone before.

The next graduate pulled up a chair and discussed the power of collaborative explorations, or well planned brainstorming sessions. How might we help other people better tune in their creative and reflective thinking potential, and “move beyond the self, be more empathic?”

We talked about how sometimes the best graduate program isn’t the one focusing on a mastery of what’s already understood, but exploring what remains unknown. How might we become better advocates for taking necessary risks, as professionals in a rapidly changing world?

“I started discovering a new way about thinking about my role in the world.”

“I started discovering a new way about thinking about my role in the world,” said another graduate, highlighting the Critical and Creative Thinking program’s flexibility. “I needed a masters degree to further my career, but CCT furthers you as a person, too.”

“I was quiet, less experimental. There’s been a shift in my work. I’m combining new materials and fabrics, little things. I’m using materials that used to urk me.”

“I feel more passionate about spending my days doing what I care about,” she said, describing a desire to do more as an artist. “I was quiet, less experimental. There’s been a shift in my work. I’m combining new materials and fabrics, little things. I’m using materials that used to urk me.”

As a communications specialist with four classes completed — covering critical thinking, creative thinking, dialogue processes and the connections between thinking, learning and computers — I feel empowered to invest my career in new and emerging media.

I’ve found the courage to remain divergent enough that I feel simply mastering another person’s theories devalues their potential. How might their concepts evolve in different contexts? How might we better leverage participatory media as tools for communicative action? How do we inspire more strong sense thinking, powerful questions and generative online dialogue?

As members of increasingly globalized and interconnected societies, we need the courage to consider numerous perspectives, while finding our own answers. The Critical and Creative Thinking program values how mankind is naturally divergent, although routinely trained for convergence. We’re creative by design, so the program is intuitive to our nature.

While scouring Wikipedia for collaborative information about ferns, we may discover an interest in wetlands. While researching an area’s annual rainfall, we may wish to challenge the notions of climate change striving for our attention.

After the open house I wondered, what might happen if billions of people better refined their critical and creative thinking skills?

Upcoming CCT Collaborative Explorations

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