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A Little Guesswork


How would you score yourself on a scale of 1-10 at guesswork? How about estimating? Making assumptions? It is risky, but there are times in our lives where we must work on instinct and intuition alone yet, guessing and making assumptions can also be risky. This piece of writing today will provide you with an experiment on how our brains work in estimating scale, and whether or not it should be done often in real life/work.

Try the following exercises with some friends (the more the merrier) for a practical illustration of the theme. Or if the opportunity arises, try it in your classroom if you finished the lesson early to experiment with multiple intelligence theory - specifically on how some people are naturally better at some tasks than others.

The purpose of this activity is to explore the brain's capability of estimating scale. All that is done is simple guessing however, in the end it will provide a basis for understanding more about how reliable, or unreliable, our brains can estimate scale without measuring tools or precise references.

This can also relate to the risks of making assumptions, and the merits, risks, and surprises associated with guessing, using short-cuts, and working from instinct. Sometimes guessing and instinctive assumptions are effective, other times, more often than we'd like, they are not. Without further ado, onto the activity!

Items needed: people, sticky notes, masking tape, pens, tape measure, protractor.

Prepare some sticky notes and masking tape (be careful of you have wooden flooring), and mark the following without using any measuring tools (use a pen to label your names if doing it with your friends or students):

> a distance of 4 metres on the floor

> a height of 90 centimetres on the wall

> an angle of 30 degrees on the floor

> an angle of 160 degrees on the wall

> a square metre on the floor

> a square 45 centimetres on the wall

> insert random idea...

After you or everyone has made guesses, use a tape measure and protractor to check how you fared. Review and reflect the following items. If you did this activity at school with a low level English class, allow the kids to use Japanese for discussion.

-What surprises did you find?

-What differences were there in guessing different scales?

-What creative methods were used in "measuring"?

-How does the brain guess something?

-In life/work, how do we decide when to "guess" and when to "measure"?

-How can we make our guessing more reliable?

-What are the pros and cons in guessing and making intuitive judgement?

There are no right or wrong answers, but the activity and discussion is to make us aware of the merits, risks, and surprises associated with guessing. From here on, do you dare take more chances in working on your experience and intuition? Or will you sit back and observe, think, then measure? Or is everything in life/work relative, case by case in all aspects?

Stay tuned for a follow up writing in the near future on a game idea that relates to this theme.

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