I believe my Paris Baboons were divergent thinkers

  • Saturday, February 10, 2018
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Had the monkey seen it's arse, it would not have danced.
As a boy I lived near the base of this Kopje in Mutare, Zimbabwe. I would fill an old army water bottle and climb it. Baboons would sit on the rocks and bark as I climbed.

I have been curiously buoyed by the story recently of the 52 Baboons who escaped from the Paris zoo. After a long and hard week where I myself have been as grumpy as a Baboon with fleas I needed this tale of animalistic freedom and revolution. I have enjoyed the mental image of the brightly bottomed primates flipping the proverbial bird towards human society and causing chaos.
A luta continua, vitória é certa.
I believe my Paris Baboons were divergent thinkers as opposed to convergent thinkers.
Let me explain. Convergent thinking is where a straightforward approach to a problem is utilised, where the answer is simple and obvious. This type of problem negates any need for a creative approach. Divergent thinking is the opposite, where a problem is abstract or can have multiple outcomes or answers and we need to apply creative thinking to find a solution. It's often seen as out the box thinking. It's a bit like trail running and road running, I know which one I prefer but they both have their uses.
The Bobbejane were communicating their desire for freedom creatively and divergently, their message was loud and unambiguous and captured the worlds attention perfectly.
I have also been listening on Youtube to divergent thinker Jack Ma, the Chinese founder of wholesaling giant Alibaba talk about education and how we need to apply divergent thinking to how we teach in the future.. Jack believes that we need to stop knowledge based teaching and move to teaching what he terms 'soft' skills. These include values, belief, teamwork, music, art and sport. Jack's rationale is that artificial intelligence and robots are rising up and threatening the jobs we are preparing our children for, these soft skills are things that machines won't be able to replicate, allowing our kids to have a space where they can still be productive rather than redundant. It is teaching them how to problem solve and make well researched choices. It is teaching independent thinking.
I agree.
Coincidentally I was on a PE course last week run by Create Development called REAL PE. This approach to PE combines creativity with cognitive, physical and social elements - and amazingly our trainer Nat had just returned from spending 3 weeks in China teaching these principles at the school that Ma has built!
Right now as I type I am eating the remains of a Doner Kebab, spooning strips of greasy lamb drenched in Chili sauce into my mouth with my fingers. A half full glass of red wine is on the floor at my feet Such is the simple beauty of life.
Last month I turned 53, a little more jowly but hopefully with my sense of humour intact. That is obviously important to me because I think I've mentioned it before!
I had a good run with Annie on my birthday too. We have formed a little collegiate running club where a few of us run on a Friday after work but this time it was just the two of us. It turned poignant as Annie spoke of her sadness at losing a friend to cancer and how it has affected her. At these moments running is a great vehicle for restoration and conversation. It is easier to be open and honest when you are running side by side surrounded by stillness and nature. We were both feeling a sense of wellbeing and peace amongst the trees and the gathering dusk and parted encouraged and strengthened by each other.
I also have one of those strange knee injuries that I blame on playing school football on a hard tennis court. It is stiff and a little sore and so I'm giving running a break because I fear inflaming it and turning it into a full blown injury. I am annoyed, my running has been going well and I have been feeling fitter and sharper.
Finally, I am feeling blessed and privileged. Last Saturday night I went into London with my daughter. She is at a performing arts school and invited me to go to Islington with her to watch an up and coming band formed in part by some of her peers. It's highly affirming when your teenager thinks you are cool enough to hang out with in a noisy pub with her mates. These guys go by the somewhat cheesy name, The Psycho Muffins but what they lose in their name they more than make up with their music. The band are hugely talented musicians full of force, fury and virtuosity, a tight and passionate power trio who left me slightly dazed but really inspired too.
Young people man, I love them.
James of the Psycho Muffins in full flight.
(Photo Psycho Muffins)


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