On the Road to Breaking Functional Fixedness
December 6, 2010 by Howard Blas
I canâ€™t get the image out of my head. I keep thinking of the Power Point slide of the metal shopping cart with wheels, turned on its side, over a fire pit. Only a mischief-maker would burn a shopping cart, right? Wrong. An innovative person who wanted to cook meat but didnâ€™t have a grill might be clever enough to put a shopping cart in a fire! The slide was entitled â€œTask Unification.â€
The 14 Jim Joseph Fellows got a taste of what S.I.T.-Systematic Inventive Thinking does in an online webinar, and we will be spending 11-1/2 hours in Israel, starting a week from today, learning about tools and principles for breaking cognitive fixedness. One type of fixedness, â€œFunctional Fixednessâ€ is defined as cognitive bias which limits a person to using an object only in the way that it is traditionally used. Perhaps this applies to computers and video conferencing as much as it applies to shopping carts.
I am assuming that MegaMeeting and other video conferencing systems were intended to make it easier for employees of a company, based in different locations, to hold meetings, share ideas, and communicate better.
The directors of the special needs programs at the various Camp Ramah camps have begun using MegaMeeting for a slightly different purposeâ€”for our â€œShabbos Is Callingâ€ Program. Every Thursday for 30 minutes, campers and their counselors â€œmeet;â€ they hear and see friends from places as far away as Buffalo, NY; Chicago, IL; and Boston, MA. They sing Shabbos songs, hear stories about the weekly Torah portion or upcoming holiday, or simply â€œshmooze.â€ Last week, the group sang Happy (19th) Birthday to Riffy, talked about Chanukah, sang Chanukah songs, and even watched a counselor light Chanukah candles.
We are finding new uses for MegaMeeting, and we are proudly helping campers with special needs overcome isolation and loneliness by connecting in a meaningful way in the months when camp is not in session.
Time to get ready for next Thursdayâ€™s â€œShabbos Is Calling!â€