What is Grandomastery?
Grandomastery is designed for educators whose students enjoy non-traditional learning through creating, competing, discussing and sharing opinions. It is also for those with advanced English language skills who want to get more practice with novel and thought-provoking topics.
In contrast with the majority of intellectual quizzes, in which only correct and rational answers matter, we value daring creativity and individual opinions – no matter how contradictory. We relish your real-life experiences and original findings. We are committed to recording our participators’ bright solutions and interesting insights, to ensure that their creativity and commitment is acknowledged.
As educators we have worked with intermediate and advanced students, attended master classes in teaching and participated in discussion clubs with our colleagues. We have noticed that a primary focus on prepared, structured tasks does not spark much enthusiasm, while spontaneous diversion to unexpected topics can engage even the quietest participants.
We have also noticed that during hiring processes, HR specialists themselves do not sufficiently engage with the interview elements designed to check the creativity of candidates through non-standard or off-topic questions. We have therefore decided to add thousands of questions to inspire hiring managers and allow candidates to evaluate the flexibility of their thinking. Through observing the answers of our participants, we have found that those who have no trouble with our questions tend to be analytical thinkers with high levels of emotional intelligence. Our content is deliberately random. The language is in constant motion and novel ideas and concepts are inserted on a daily basis, ensuring the project is fed with a continual stream of new tasks to complete. Grandomastery’s catalogue of resources is perpetually being enhanced with original and relevant materials.
Why are all our tasks random?
To avoid banality, burnout, and boredom. The content of each task is randomized, so the response to the content is correspondingly impromptu and unrehearsed.
The word “random” evolved from the Old French words “randir”, meaning “to gallop”, and “randon”, meaning “great speed”. Our activities are random as they are neither pre-planned nor anticipated by either of the involved parties. These parties are the grandoministers - the hosts of the game, and the grandomasters - the participants and creative core. Neither the grandominister (the facilitator, educator or entertainer) nor the grandomaster knows what task they may get. Randomness allows us to fly through different activities free from the constraints of order and structure, encouraging spontaneity and quick reactivity. Grandomastery is the skill of running through challenges resourcefully and constructively, a skill that is necessary in many of life’s scattershot activities.
Why “-minister”? “Ministerium” in Latin means “service” or “assistance”, and we are here to support and fulfil your creative and educational needs. Contrary to the claims made by many traditional education providers or course material creators, autonomy and free-thinking are often discouraged or downplayed, while traditionalism and conservatism are still strongly emphasised. Unlike in many traditional systems, Grandomastery learners are players rather than passive objects, and its facilitators are not conveyors of new ideas – it is the “grandomasters” themselves who create the concepts that will inspire and amuse many others.
What inspired us?
Textbooks. Or, more specifically, their inefficiency in many aspects. Extensive experience as educators has shown us that textbooks are largely outdated and over-simplified, providing a superficial and misleading representation of society. The parameters of the content are dictated by players such as government departments of education, including those in countries that require citizens to conform strictly to social norms and biased viewpoints. Critical thinking is either neglected or discouraged in such cases, with a “safe”, restrictive paradigm being imposed.
Today’s minimal expectations for creativity. The current approach to creative activities or processes means that there is little consideration for the quality of the results. All outcomes are accepted, even those lacking in wit and originality. At schools and colleges - and even during some informal boardgames – narratives are usually discarded and forgotten, diminishing the significance of the creative process. Imagine completing a physical “DIY” project only to dismantle or discard it without exhibiting or putting it to use. The creative work of an unskilled celebrity is valued and made famous, while the craft of a genuine master often remains unknown. The perception that their creations may remain insignificant discourages people from developing their skillset. Within our project the narratives you create are treated seriously and with appreciation.
Fellow researchers. Tim Harford coined the idea of Slow-Motion Multitasking, which involves having multiple projects on the go and moving between each according to mood or circumstance. Shifting between topics can improve efficiency, with multitasking being the key to creativity when done in so-called “slow-motion”. Harford compares the effect with that of physical cross-training, suggesting that when practising multitasking you are cross-training your mind. Duncan Wardle, another expert in creative thinking, argues the importance of “getting out of the river of thinking”. This can be achieved, again, but the diversification of tasks. Balder Onarheim – a PhD, creativity researcher at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU), and founder of the Copenhagen Institute of NeuroCreativity – the ability to generate and adapt to random and spontaneous information is crucial. In this age of information it is common for us to operate on the basis of cross-domain knowledge, a feat that requires constant and rapid switching from one type of information or source to another.
Are there any “correct” answers in our tasks?
No, there are no correct or incorrect answers. Richard Sher, creator of the show “Says You!”, said: “It’s not important to know the answers: it’s important to like the answers.” Witty and shrewd responses deserve proper attention and should be allowed to evolve to the point of absurdity. It is clear that today’s tasks place too much emphasis on single “correct” answers that require participants to deduce the solution by applying logic and analytical skills. Alternative answers are seen as amusing and are never taken into account when assessing the student or participant’s performance.
What is so special about Grandomastery?
The variety of tasks. Grandomasters reach their full potential by dwelling on certain tasks and taking passing glimpses at others. Some questions or tasks may only require a second for coming up with a brilliant solution, while others may challenge the participants for several minutes.
Emerging, up-to-date, profound concepts. One of our activities has, for example, a broad and constantly growing selection of ideas, phenomena and paradoxes that hold significance for all of us. Some themes have appeared recently, others are somewhat controversial. Some are based on historic matters that remain relevant to the present day. Many topics may include information that is new for both randomasters and randoministers, allowing everyone to fulfil the sacred “Learn something new every day” doctrine.
Emphasis on abstractions. One of the primary tasks in Randoministry is related to the comparison of two abstractions. In our opinion, the unobjectifiable nature of abstract nouns should be greater appreciated. We rarely see abstractions in textbooks, board games, video games, TV shows or other manifestations of popular culture. In response to this deficiency we developed an activity in which a pair of abstractions are randomly generated and compared using bisociation, a method coined by renowned 20th Century intellectual Arthur Koestler, and synectics. Synectics is a more advanced and demanding form of brainstorming which allows for the joining of different and apparently unrelated elements, demonstrating an emphasis on a metaphorical approach to problem solving. The process of joining together unrelated concepts is one of the most fundamental and efficient techniques described in numerous scientific works on neuroplasticity.
Multi-purpose. Our project can be used as a game, as a language-learning tool (with the flexibility for translating it into any language within a short period of time), and as a creativity assessment template for job interview candidates. It can be used both online and offline, or via a combination of the two, and can be broadcast live for the purpose of engaging online participants. It is suitable for anyone over the age of 12 regardless of whether or not they are knowledgeable in the topics and themes represented in the content.
Simplicity. Just two buttons – “CYCLE” and “RANDOM”. There is no need for our facilitators to prepare or study any materials in advance of a session as they do not need to know more than the participants. The “Random” button generates content that will likely be unfamiliar to and unexpected by both parties. There is always novelty and randomness, and answers can be spur-of-the-moment and spontaneous.