Let’s Play I Spy

Do you remember the children’s game called “I Spy”? Or did you play it with your children on interminable car trips? It’s sometimes called “I Spy with my little eye.” The idea is that one person gives clues about what he or she has spied until the partner guesses the object. It’s entertaining and teaches the power of observation.

Some ways to begin are to say, “I spy something that begins with an ‘m,’ or hear something that sounds like a bell, or I spy something purple.” The “spy” can’t change the object once started. Once the object is guessed, the person with the correct answer becomes the spy.

The next time you’re our of your usual environment, think about what you’d choose to “spy.” What would confound your listeners at least for a while, and what clues would you use for the game?

Being able to assume the “naïve eye” is key to successful field observation in anthropology. When a scholar goes into a new culture to observe, this is the stance that’s recommended. And not easy to drop all vestiges of your own culture.

Another way to think about powers of observation is the “beginner’s eye,” again related to looking anew at what’s around you. The bagel sculptures that showed up recently all around New York are giving us a whole new way to look at that popular New York treat.

By Dr. Sabra Brock, co-founder of Idea Spies

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