Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Divergent and Convergent Thinking and Why You Care

 I was trolling the Internet for interesting information and ideas and came across this old school site called Divergent Thinking.

"The goal of divergent thinking is to generate many different ideas about a topic in a short period of time. It involves breaking a topic down into its various component parts in order to gain insight about the various aspects of the topic. Divergent thinking typically occurs in a spontaneous, free-flowing manner, such that the ideas are generated in a random, unorganized fashion. Following divergent thinking, the ideas and information will be organized using convergent thinking; i.e., putting the various ideas back together in some organized, structured way."
 Divergent thinking is probably something we should be teaching our students. It is one of the fundamental building blocks of creativity. Being able to generate a number of ideas and then put them back together in some new and original way is essential. Creation of new knowledge is what our students will be required to do, if they want to be successful.

This divergent thinking - convergent thinking cycle is the part of my job that I enjoy the most. Things I do almost every day (every GOOD day!) are:
  • Taking time to think about something -- almost anything will do. But it is important to just stop and think.
  • Meditate. Meditation is to thinking as practicing scales is to playing the piano. It will help you to nudge your mind in the right direction.
  • Writing. I use my blogs (I write three now!) as the place where I put ideas back together in new and original (at least for me) ways. Sometimes an idea will will present itself and I will use my writing as a way to explore it. Sometimes I will take two subjects and then challenge myself to think of ways that they can go together. 
Putting things together in new and novel ways is not a "nice to have" any more -- it is an essential.  How will/do you practice divergent and convergent thinking?


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