Is it Possible to Teach Lateral Thinking?

For those of you don’t know what Lateral Thinking or Lateral Problem Solving is… Its Basically Thinking Outside The Box. You’re presented with a problem and You solved it by thinking outside the Box… essentially pulling a solution right out of Thin Air.

Yes this is an actual thing in actual science and Academics… but here’s the thing… Can you actually teach this technique to someone ? Can you get better at it ? Can lateral thinking even be measured or rated ?

That’s a good question. I’m honestly not sure you can. It would be like trying to teach a tone deaf person to sing on key. I’ve always been good at thinking outside the box. I didn’t learn it, it was just how my brain was wired.

All in all, I think it all comes down to how a person’s mind functions.

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You can in every single sport/competition movie and sitcom.

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Does not hurt to try… Unless your lateral thinking will tell you to perform brain surgery with chainsaw, then it hurts.


Ey, the guy just scremead for a second, he has no complaints after that…


I think that you can help people improve their creativity by challenging them in ways that help them expand upon ideas in their own unique ways. Sure, you’re going to get a lot of derivative ideas for a while, but teaching someone to think critically, find their own voice; their own way expressing thoughts and ideas… That can absolutely be taught.

People that can learn this more open way of thinking and internalize it as a pattern for how they approach a variety of aspects in life, including problem solving, would likely be more apt to develop lateral thinking skills, so in a sense, I think it can be taught, especially to those that already possess a more substantial foundation due to innate characteristics / life experience.

To me, that sounds like a more round about way as opposed to simply teaching this kind of thing directly. You’re giving someone the tools and allowing them to apply developed thinking mechanics in other ways, rather than simply saying “here’s how you look at any and all problems like no one else does.”

However, I do think that lateral problem solving can be applied in specific areas through the use of case studies if you’re talking about specific disciplines. The more you know about an area, the more you can call upon your background knowledge to combine ideas, see more of the proverbial chess board, and come up with unique ideas and perspectives on how to solve certain issues.

But if we’re not talking about a specific discipline and just thinking “overall,” then yeah, to me, there are certain traits that have to be developed in people as building blocks toward approaching any problem across any discipline in a unique, outside the box, manner if we’re not assuming the ability is inherently there to begin with. At least that’s what I’d assume.

I figured as Much.

I’m sorry you lost me somewhere in the middle. Anyway I’m not talking about in a Specific Discipline. Just trying to teach someone how to think outside the box… the conditioning being that the solution must be successful most of the time.

I may have gone a bit off track, but this is gist of what I was trying to say… The more you challenge someone to think critically and to expand upon their ideas and find their own unique voice, the more I think you can help foster an ability to think outside the box because you’re fostering original thought.

Now, that original thought might not always lead to an outside the box approach. But I think you’re much less likely to have a person that simply does what was done before because that’s what’s supposed to be done. You’ll have a person that’s less afraid to color outside the lines, I suppose. At least, that’s my theory.

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Hmmm… that actually makes sense… I like it. :slight_smile:

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Just in case you guys were wondering why I asked… its because I did not like Anti-Chamber. Its chock full of these types of puzzles… it can’t or doesn’t tutorialize them because of its non-linear nature.