Do you ‘chind?gu’?

HUMMING IN MY UNIVERSE - Jim Paredes (The Philippine Star) - August 24, 2014 - 12:00am

I do.

And it’s one of the most fun things I require my students to do.

As part of the Special Topics in Performance and Practice subject I teach at the ADMU, I ask my students to submit a chind?gu for the creativity module of the course. What is a chind?gu? I am sure you are already asking right now.

To quote Wikipedia, “Chind?gu is the Japanese art of inventing ingenious everyday gadgets that, on the face of it, seem like an ideal solution to a particular problem. However, chind?gu has a distinctive feature: anyone actually attempting to use one of these inventions would find that it causes so many new problems, or such significant social embarrassment, that effectively it has no utility whatsoever. Thus, chind?gu are sometimes described as “unuseless” — that is, they cannot be regarded as “useless” in an absolute sense, since they do actually solve a problem; however, in practical terms, they cannot positively be called “useful.”

In short, I ask them to look for a problem and find a chind?gu solution to it.

This is the 7th semester that I am teaching at the Ateneo  Communications Department and in almost all of the past semesters, I required my students to make a chind?gu. And as I’ve always done, I invited a “chind?gu expert” who happens to be my brother Raffy to decide on the presentations. There are only two ways about it. A ‘two thumbs up with the word “chind?gu” uttered by Raffy spells an A, or “No chind?gu“ with thumbs down spells an F.  

The fear of the students about this assignment is  palpable especially on the day they have to present. But there is always a big sigh of relief when they realize that they are mostly on the right track.

The students this year had great presentations. Here are some:

Problem: How to put on lipstick in a hurry and still get it exact

Solution: Use a mask where lips are already cut out. Apply lipstick avoiding smudging on the face.

Problem: How to tell the time on watches without numbers written on its face

Solution: Bring this gadget.

Problem: How to save time using a toothpick

Solution: Invent a device with multiple toothpicks applied and calibrated to different teeth at the same time.

Problem: How to catch flying cockroaches

Solution:  Make a big, efficient “swatter.”

Problem: How to solve coldness in planes and uncertainty about who owns the armrest when you sit in the middle seat

Solution: Make a shawl with built-in arm- rests.

Problem: How to prevent cellphone from dropping

Solution: Put “rings” behind it so you can grasp it easily. It also makes it “burglar free.”

Problem: How to stop nails from scaterring all over when you cut them

Solution: Use a plastic bag as nail catcher.

The real aim of the assignment is to experience the fun and challenging aspect of creativity. Chind?gu is perfect since the first requirement of any chind?gu is, it must exist. In short, you can’t just talk about it or present a theory or a drawing. You actually have to do a prototype and present it. You have to actively create something and bring it to life which means overcoming self-doubt, inner criticism and boldly executing your own creative ideas.

Creativity is play.  Sometimes, playing crazy is a wonderful, therapeutic thing. Long live chind?gu.


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