BARRIERS TO THINKING

K. Pubalova

University of Economics, Prague (CZECH REPUBLIC)
How does age and education influence our thinking? It is said that together with the age comes experience and wisdom. However does it mean that the older one gets, the wiser he or she is? And can we say the same about the creativity? With age comes knowledge, but it is well perceived that young children are more creative than teenagers who are, in general, more creative than adults. When problem solving, children can think up lots of solutions - the solutions may not work, however children can have a view of problems from different sides, and are not limited by what they are supposed to think or what has worked in past. So are the barriers of thinking getting larger with age? Is the knowledge, experience, and education restraining us from better or more ready solutions?

The author wanted to see how different the thinking and approach to solving problems was between young children, students and adults and thus made an experiment using Einstein Riddle as a tool. There were selected three groups of subjects: young children from 6th to 8th grade of elementary school (age 12 to 15), university students applying to master degree (age 21 to 25), and adults (age 30 to 80). All groups had the same task - to solve the Einstein Riddle. The riddle was given as a group task, in a similar way as it is solved in a selection process of CEMS programme at the University of Economics, Prague (UEP). UEP is a member of the CEMS Aliance, offering a full time master’s programme in English. The students at UEP are being selected in a two round selection process. The Einstein Riddle (namely Neighbours or Farmers) is played in a specific way and is used to evaluate students’ communication skills, their ability to select information from a written text, and their cooperation among the group.

This paper shows how different aged groups solved the task, and their ability to cooperate and find solutions when doing so. It gives arguments for how age and experience influence one’s thinking. Finally it shows the specific way how the riddle is presented during the selection process.