#twistedpair academic blogging - how Monty Python and Albert Einstein inform my professional outlook ..

For regular readers of my blog, I am sure that you are used to my unusual utterances. Occasionally I follow the musings of Prof Steve Wheeler, who does a great job of lateral thinking.

His latest post, explores the idea of how two entirely unrelated and potentially unusual souls could be connected (no matter how tenuously) into a topic covering something clever and critical relating to one's own professional practice.

Being a child of the late 60's Monty Python was already the stuff of legends by the time I was old enough to comprehend their delicious humour. Apart from an off beat uncle who enjoyed singing the Spam song and hearing it on radio once or twice - I finally began to understand the wit of the Monty Python team during my teenage years.

My take on Monty Python is that they are all about lateral thinking - taking the sideways view of an idea. Smacking it with wet fish, singing a daft song then turning it into something worthwhile.

Source: Wikimedia Commons
You cannot ever hear the words 'Spanish Inquisition' without a wry smile and I do like to wind up a certain sector of society with 'he is not the messiah, he is just a very naughty boy'. Each sketch explores common ideas and exploits their potential for an alternate view of the universe. Something that must be encouraged at all costs - critical thinking is not simply about deep analysis, it is also about allowing alternate ideas to flourish, survive or die.

Some of the sketches from the Python team were odd, some are seminal, many are quoted, a great deal are enjoyed. After all, who does not desire to be a lumberjack and dress in frilly dresses just like dear old Pa!

Then for Albert, dear old Einstein; there are so many clever things I admire about him - but my favourite by far is probably one of his simplest quotes.
If you cannot explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough (there are various versions).
Source : NBC News
Simplicity is key, keep it simple, explain it as if they may not understand. Because you know does not mean that others do, so think about how you would break something down in a way that can be explained to another intelligent soul - yet may not know what it is you understand.

This is core to our practice as educators and often it needs lateral thinking (Monty Python style) to make it work. I have used Reservoir Dogs (yes the Tarantino film) to explain IP addressing and Subnetting to students in the past - it worked, they understood and it took a combination of lateral thinking and simplicity to get the point across. There are other experiences, but I am sure that you also have your own.

Think laterally and keep it simple - what better ways are there to teach?

What are your experiences and how would you think in a #twistedpair which two unrelated souls could you connect and describe your own thinking. Go ahead, I dare you.


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