Be Different and Thrive

Be Different and Thrive

It’s tempting to surround ourselves with like-minded individuals who share our perspectives, as it often makes life easier when everyone agrees. However, true growth occurs when we make mistakes and face challenges.

Kevin Dunbar, a psychologist and researcher, has extensively explored scientific reasoning and complex thinking, particularly in the context of real-world laboratories and scientific investigations. Dunbar’s observations reveal that breakthroughs often stem from collaborative thinking and reasoning. In a study conducted by Dunbar and his colleagues, it was noted that our brains are inclined to assimilate information that aligns with our existing beliefs. Consequently, Dunbar emphasizes that more innovative scientific environments thrive when colleagues possess diverse backgrounds and specialties.

One of the key references to this aspect of his work can be found in the following publication:

Title: “Understanding the Role of Cognitive Processes in Science: Analogy as a Case Study”

Authors: Kevin Dunbar, Jonathan Fugelsang

In this study, Dunbar and Fugelsang delve into the cognitive processes involved in scientific thinking, with a specific focus on analogy as a case study. They discuss the importance of diverse cognitive backgrounds and the impact of dissimilar specialties in fostering creativity and innovation within scientific laboratories.

From a personal perspective, I have always found that people with different backgrounds (racial and professional) due to their different experiences look at the same scenario but from a different angle, hence allowing the discussion and possible solution from a completely different perspective.

At my current work, I have Teacher Digital Leaders and Technology Committee members who come from very different backgrounds, such as male/female, and teacher representation from different year group and different subject specialists. This diversity allows the Teacher Digital Leaders to consider whole school technology solutions and vision from different perspectives. In some cases, the simplest solutions were proposed by individuals who did not have a tech background or were not tech-savvy at all. The “Why” questions posed by non-technical backgrounds made a huge difference with our Technology Committee when arriving towards our Technology vision statement and Digital Citizenship Statement.

In my opinion, educational and professional settings should make active efforts to diversify teams and settings. It’s essential to cultivate teams with diverse backgrounds and focus groups that represent a wide range of perspectives and experiences. This deliberate diversity can lead to enriched collaboration and more comprehensive problem-solving approaches.

Sometimes looking beyond, the CV and job title might be the way forward.

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