The Ferris Wheel
It was the last full week of summer vacation and my family was looking for one more big adventure. So I packed the car, and off we went for a day of fun an thrills at a central Pennsylvania amusement park. Now, none of us had ever been to this park, so we were definitely going to need a map. Upon arrival we got our wrist bands, our all day passes and of course – our map! The map was sketchy at best. It was one of those two dimensional renderings that failed to provide half of what was actually present in the park. Not long after entering the park, my daughter Grace noticed a ferris wheel. She immediately was drawn to the giant wheel and asked if we could go for a ride. My son Eli immediately said, “no way”. He’s a twelve year old boy that doesn’t like anything hanging from about 150 feet. Grace, through her frustration blurted out, “We could have gained perspective.” To be honest, after that moment we spent almost half the day lost.
Questions provide the opportunity to gain new perspective
While reading Critical Thinking “Concepts and Tools” by Richard Paul & Linda Elder I was drawn to the questions that can be used to apply universal intellectual standards on pages 8 to 10. These questions provided a new grid for self intellectual analysis that I embraced and will begin to use for better reasoning. What struck me most about these questions is how they can provide multiple dimensions of perspective.
Perspective of the problem at hand – It is essential as a learner that I do not assume full understanding when coming upon a problem. Problems are complex, often needing clarity, accuracy and precision details which need to be answered for further understanding. If we fail to ask good questions we may move forward with providing a solution to a problem that we don’t even fully understand. Often resulting in unneeded consequences.
Perspective of our own faulty conclusions – Problems not only provide an opportunity to learn about organizations and systems, but it also provides a great opportunity to learn more in regards to ourselves. Through key questions in the area of depth, breadth, significance and even fairness we may unearth faulty thinking that has originated from our own heritage or cultural upbringing. With this new perspective, every problem presents the opportunity learn and grow personally in your own thinking and development.
Perspective on how we can better teach others – All problems provide the opportunity to learn about the situation at hand as well as ourselves. However, there is a third perspective which is essential. After learning key insights pertaining to the problem and ourselves, we now gain the right to teach others through key questions. Using our depth of understanding we now pass on the perspective which has been granted to us through healthy intellectual questioning.
One last attempt
As night fell, Grace made another plea to go on the ferris wheel. As a family we finally gave in to her demands. Eli was not happy! Not long after getting into the bucket we approached the pinnacle of the ferris wheel. As Grace looked out over the entire park, she made a few remarks. Daddy,
I can see the whole park…
I see where we made mistakes today with our directions…
Since I know the park now, next year I want to bring my friends, and show them the park…
It all makes sense now…
What was two dimensional and confusing all day, was now three dimensional and made sense.