You can design practice items to be fun, as long as they are of the four types here.(...) I suggest that we make thinking exercises more fun so that more people will attempt them.
This can also be solved in another way than you suggest: Dr. de Bono says that a strict time discipline removes the anguish in thinking and also makes you focus better and not think about other things. 5 or 3 minutes or even 30 seconds may seem a short time at first but is not so when you have practiced the tools for some time. 'After all, complicated dreams are supposed to take place within seconds of real time'. (This was my reply to a post by Dennis Perrin)(...) just because thinking is open-ended doesn't mean that thinking exercises need to be (...)
"How many very different uses for a pencil can you think of?" This question is going to cause unnecessary stress, in my opinion. The student is going to wonder “How many is enough?”
Practice item can be too difficult for you, but not the other way around:In the CoRT Thinking Lessons (CD), section 2, teaching points (1), heading 'Shallowness', dr. de Bono writes:Now thinking is sometimes compared to skiing or playing tennis. A novice skier on an advanced slope is not going to have fun. Putting a professional tennis player in a kiddie competition is not much of a challenge for him. Putting people randomly into situations where they don’t know the skill level required is no fun either. Key to making an activity enjoyable involves organising tasks into various skill levels, and then allowing participants to choose an appropriate level for them.
One teacher said that one group of students were so capable that they could do all the practice items in the lesson in five minutes. They probably could. But much more able thinkers might have spent five hours on each item - and in some cases a lifetime.
Much more common are the apparently simple situations which can be dealt with in a superficial way but which really require far more thinking if they are to be handled properly. Such problems may never appear difficult at all. Students who believe they have no career choice except to follow in their parents footsteps cannot see a "problem” in choosing a career. (...) No situation is too simple to think about in depth.
For instance, the question "What is a good colour for a car?" is open-ended and the student cannot tell whether the answer grey is better or worse than green. The question "Which colour is easiest to see at night?" allows the students to tell themselves they have found a good answer when they say "red" (although in fact this is wrong). (CoRT Thinking Lessons)
I appreciate your point about "No situation is too simple to think about in depth", it is a very worthwhile observation but has no relationship to what I am proposing.I said that in response to the example about the professional tennis player above.
..we make thinking exercises more fun so that more people will attempt them.