How Does Refractive Thinking Relate to Critical and Creative Thinking?

If thinking is inside the box, and critical thinking is outside the box, then refractive thinking is beyond the box.  This invariably begs the question where and how creative thinking fits into the picture.  Creative thinking and refractive thinking are indeed close cousins.  Think of creative thinking as the initial process—the brainstorming, the mind mapping, the unique ways of incorporating different ways to look at something—the ability to think of ingenious, remarkable, and usual solutions. 

Typically this is the point at which thinking then stops.  While many of my students use these tools and techniques—their use is still within their perceived boundaries of either in or out of the box, coloring in or outside of the lines—the either or dichotomy.  The limits seemingly still exist despite these additional techniques and perspective.

Instead, refractive thinking is design to look toward existing without boundaries, suspending judgment, freeing one’s mind to be limitless.  Creative thinking is often a challenge because we are still thinking along the lines of what are the rules and can I offer solutions either within the rules (which is what this seminar offered) or to break the rules entirely.  Refractive thinking goes beyond the rules, the very instance between rules and no rules, simply existing where one suspends and resists any type of confinement, boundaries, labels, or parameters of any kind.  This free thinking without any convention at all is something that few truly can obtain.

Einstein was one of the rare few who could truly think thoughts that had not been previously considered.  He began to think of thinking as trying to decipher behavior that simply did not follow conventional thinking or the prevailing wisdom.  Few could grasp the radically different concepts he put forth initially.  Much like during the time of Sir Isaac Newton or perhaps even further when the earth was believed to once be flat, these are the pioneers of thought—the true pioneers of refractive thinking.

            Refractive thinking requires a leap of faith, belief in the process whereby suspending judgment, labels, boundaries, and any type of traditionally held constraints, that one’s mind can begin to simply ponder the improbable, reflect on the impossible, bend thought beyond the plausible, to truly explore the infinite—truly to infinite and beyond.

            Descartes offers the often quoted phrase: “I think therefore I am.”  Allow me to continue his thought by adding, “I critically think to be, I refractively think to change the world” (Lentz, 2009).  My goal in academia and within the business world is to help students and adult learners develop their critical thinking skills to see what is already there with a slightly different lens from a new perspective; to learn to question everything they see-to return to the oft favorite phrase of a child—the curiosity driven question, why.  What a shame that as adults we lose this idyllic curiosity and wonder.

Until next time…happy thinking.  Merry Christmas!

Dr. Cheryl Lentz
Chief Refractive Thinker

December 23rd, 2010 by admin

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