On February 26th the Coursera class “Creative Problem Solving” opened. The lectures were sparse the first week, I assumed it was so we could quickly become involved in the weekly “Do Something Different” exercises. The first assignment looked interesting, eat something different or in a different way.
Now I have always been an adventurous eater. At one time I thought it would be a good idea to keep track of all the species I have tasted. I would search out odd vegetables to grow in my garden. Whenever my wife and I are out of town we look for ethnic restaurants to try. Currently I am on a Korean kick, bibimbap and kimchi are some of my favorites. I considered fasting, how different could eating get than fasting? But again, I tried it in my thirties and lasted just over three days. Besides, we are not supposed to do anything dangerous and I am much older, I would want to talk to my doctor before trying that again. Finally I went back to a paper I wrote a few years ago in a class on medical history. In it I argued that the reason workers on Caribbean slave plantations died faster than they reproduced was due to malnutrition. I learned that their typical meal consisted of boiled plantains. At the time I wondered what that was like, how did it taste, how quick would someone get tired of it? I decided to give it a try as my first DSD project.
That turned out to be fun but the second project was wear something different and the third was talk to someone different. I was a teenager in the 1970s, I have worn leisure suits, silk shirts with balloon sleeves and my wife claims I get dressed by flipping a coin, I have worked retail for almost 25 years. I might find something new to wear, but how on earth am I going to find someone new to talk to?
The lectures stayed short and, well shallow? The main topic was divergent and convergent thinking and “creativity” exercises. It took me a while to figure out my problem with the class. I am old. Not one foot in the grave old but not just out of high school, the age I now think the class is designed for.
I could be wrong but it seems that pushing young adults out of the good, obedient, worker drone mindset that American high schools are so good at producing, is the main goal of the class. I like the creativity drills, even though they are extremely simple, and some of the remaining projects might be interesting so I plan on sticking with the class but I can’t recommend it.