The problem with having your Creativity class TA be the same person that was your Hall Coordinator (read: boss) when you worked as an RA is that you play some of the same problem-solving/community-building/icebreaker games. This past week in class we played “Prince of Paris,” which probably is one of my least favorite games all during my time as a RA. The game involves the entire group numbering off and being accused of stealing the Prince’s hat by one person who is acting like a guard of sorts. You have to remember your number because once it is called by one of your fellow possible culprits or the guard you have to salute and say “Yes sir, me sir?” before the guard says they caught you. The required banter is a tongue twister and your mouth and brain never seem to be on the same page. As someone who never does anything that bad enough to be caught, this game is frustrating because I almost always do get caught.
But, this game is a hilarious example of solving problems and knowing how you are a piece of that solution. The problem is simple: getting targeted and caught for stealing the Prince’s hat. To solve this problem you have to claim your innocence and deflect blame as quickly as possible. This became funny when people realized who was assigned specific numbers and how they would react so they kept calling them or would call them when they knew they would mess up. When it comes to problem solving, this isn’t really what you want to do as a sustainable solution. Sure, it solves the aspect of the problem of you being accused very quickly but it doesn’t keep the chain of success going.
In class, we had time to discuss some problems that we see in the world and choose what groups wanted to tackle creating creative solutions for them. The problem I have decided to tackle with a couple classmates is personal sustainability and recycling on campus. But, refining that problem was a cut-and-dry thing right away. We had to play another “game” to understand that better.
We had to choose between dogs or cats and then be able to explain why we were on our side. But before we could go into our diatribe, we had to actively listen to our opponent and paraphrase what their argument was back at them. This taught me to stop trying to formulate the perfect answer and actually listen to others to make sure we were covering the issue correctly, fully and accurately. This translated into how we attacked creating our problem statement quite nicely because it allowed us to mindfully listen to each idea from our fellow teammate’s and create the problem statement that we wanted to attack and thought made the most sense.
So, problems may not always be fun and games, but they can definitely use them to help solve them.