There is this old Tenali Raman story about how the King once told Tenali Raman to never show his face to the King again. TR, apparently, then wore a pot with two eye-holes over his face and came to court. The King, apparently, loved the new fashion in head-gear so much that he rescinded his order. Or, rather, as people choose to claim, it was TR's out of the box thinking (I thought it was more in the box..err..pot thinking) that captivated the King.
That, for me, was the first introduction to what people choose to call out of the box thinking. I must admit that I was not particularly impressed by TR's sagacity. I mean, here was his boss allowing him a long - nearly interminable - vacation and the idiot bends his brain to find a way to come back to office. Pure stupidity, it always seemed to me.
Of course, I must also admit that I could never really fathom these nuances. Thinking is such an alien thing to me that the entire damn exercise seems out of the box. So, what is all this thing about in the box thinking and out of the box thinking?
My brother, at school, offered me one example that, certainly, made more of an impression than TR. In a Hindi exam, he was asked to write five lines about the cow - in Hindi, of course. I would have been tempted to write, "Maybe I can manage the Hindi, but why all these zoology questions here?', provided I could have mustered enough knowledge of Hindi to do so. (I still do not know the Hindi word for zoology). My brother was never in a box, since he felt too claustrophobic in such confined spaces. So, his answer went, "Gaai ek animal hai; gaai do animal hai; gaai teen animal hai; gaai char animal hai; gaai paanch animal hai" - all in the Hindi alphabet, of course. He ended up getting half the marks for the question, losing the other half for not having used the Hindi word for 'animal', I think. THAT was good use of out of the box thinking.
In my family, though, the peak was hit by my cousin sister (female cousin, apparently, is the PROPER English but why should I limit myself because the British were not inventive enough?) in her kindergarten classes. She was faced with the question - Write "A to Z". Now, me, I would have stared at the blank sheet, doodled a bit, and generally whiled away the time worrying about the natural result of taking home a report card with a big zero in RED. (Yup - teachers did LOVE that red ink pen). Others of my ilk, but with a shade more knowledge, would have started laboriously on "A, B, C..." pausing to wonder about whether it was 'L' or 'N' that followed 'K' and how many 'n's should be attached to each other to make an 'm' and things like that. Not so my cousin. She buzzed through the test in half a sec after writing "A TO Z"! Now, beat THAT for out of the box thinking!
So, am I now convinced about the importance of out of the box thinking? Not really. After all, the only two instances where I admit the use have been at school. A School is a place where, presumably, children are taught to think. NOW, if I really do not know what use it is to think and, therefore, what need exists for people to learn to think, it seems a sort of circular argument to say, "Out of the box thinking is useful in a place where you are taught to think." Especially now, considering I have no intention of ever going back to school!