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Why the Ice Bucket Challenge is a Great Example of a Lack of Thinking Skills – but an awesome fundraiser!

Do you remember the “ice bucket challenge” of a few years ago? It was a fundraiser of the ALS Association. ALS is also referred to as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

In case you are not familiar – the challenge was to dump a bucket of ice water over your head (or have someone do it for you) OR make a donation to the ALS Association.

One of our colleagues uses his Ice Bucket Challenge experience to illustrate the lack of thinking skills prevalent in society:

His children challenged him, via social media, to take the challenge.  Seeing the bigger picture, and not really wishing to be drenched in ice cold water, AND due to the fact that he had had a family member die of ALS, he chose option B – making a donation to the ALS Association. His children (who were adults, by the way) were FURIOUS that he didn’t “do it.”  He explained to each of them that the challenge offered two options and that he actually made a bigger impact by making a donation to the cause rather than just a silly video. No matter. To this day they rib him about not being brave enough to take the ice bucket challenge.

What thinking skills do you see as lacking in this scenario? Here’s what we see:

  • Inability to see the “big picture”
  • Not understanding the purpose of a request – but going along with it anyway
  • Group think
  • Choosing to ignore facts that don’t “suit” you
  • Not asking about or looking for alternate “solutions”
  • Not looking for (or understanding) long-term ramifications

When working with your learners – the above bullets can be used as great discussion starters for any topic. Just pause. Look at the big picture. Seek alternatives. Think individually. Is this a solution for “right now” or more long term? What are the options? What is the best option?

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Facts about the Ice Bucket Challenge

  • 17 million people doused themselves with cold water; 2.4 million people posted videos of themselves on Facebook
  • 2.5 million people donated money to the cause during the challenge; close to 1 million made no subsequent donations
  • $115 million dollars was donated to the ALS Association in 8 weeks!
  • The year prior to the ice bucket challenge the ALS Association received $19.4 million in donations
  • People who chose the ice water over a donation were referred to as “slacktivists” or arm-chair activists
  • The success of the ice bucket challenge caused the Muscular Dystrophy Association to end its annual telethon fundraiser citing its need to “rethink how it connects with the public”
  • One death was attributed to the challenge
  • The Ice Bucket Challenge has become an annual “event” held in Aug – so get your video camera’s ready (or, preferably, your checkbooks)