Divergent thinking can be both a blessing and a curse. It does not begin with ‘a’ thought. It begins with a large number of spontaneous and rapidly produced thoughts. A divergent thinker has the ability to consider multiple approaches to a problem and can make unexpected connections between these thoughts. The ideas tend to be new and different than those suggested by most other people. Subsequent convergent thinking comes into play as the thoughts are organized and the ‘best’ solution to the problem is determined. A divergent thinker also possesses the ability to put the solution into action after working out the details.
You don’t have to be gifted to be a divergent thinker. However, personality traits associated with divergent thinkers include risk-taking, being curious and persistent, and generally being regarded as a non-conformist. Know anybody like that?
Parents cannot solely rely on schools for teaching divergent thinking. For numerous reasons, it rarely occurs in a regular education classroom. Most teachers don’t have the time to develop and then use activities that promote divergent thinking. Modern-day classrooms are geared to teach that only one correct answer is acceptable; i.e., teaching to the (standardized) test. And it is hard to grade a ‘possibility’. Can you think of a better way to stifle creativity?
The skills that society values most – creativity, innovation, and problem solving – have their roots in divergent thinking. It is the basis upon which we evolve and become better with each successive generation. It is incumbent upon parents to nurture these young minds. Your child needs to harness the power inherent in this type of thinking; to understand how it can increase their ability to do creative problem-solving. Various techniques can be used to encourage divergent thinking such as mind mapping, journaling, brainstorming (SCAMPER, 6 Thinking Hats), and unstructured writing.
The world today is facing what seems like insurmountable problems – economic downturns, environmental disasters, political strife, new diseases without cures – all of which need answers. Inspiring gifted minds to think divergently will benefit society by finding viable solutions to these very important issues.
After 6 revisions, I was finally able to make sense of my thoughts … on divergent thinking. Of course, it involved several sleepless nights and a slew of naps … but this blog post is a wrap!
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