08 December 2011
How we manipulate ideas is a critical part of mastering and learning from them. Ideas can be tested and considered an through a process of revision, discounting and revising come to a considered conclusion that has a sense of being an absolute position. This type of thinking works not the basis of rational thought leads to inescapable conclusions that cant be improved until the component parts that led to the conclusion are themselves revised. This is the process of convergent thinking.; all paths lead to one conclusion. It is often described as the domain of the scientists because of the the link to rational deduction and the formulation of laws.
If convergent thinking is the basis of rational thought, would its opposite be a definition of chaotic thinking? What is Divergent thought and is it of value?
In short, it is the opposite of convergence. Divergent thinkers tend to see things differently.
Divergent thinkers rethinking the problem to find novel ways to define the problem or novel ways to solve it.
The conclusion to this is that the best thinkers are those capable of doing both and being able to bring both thinking methods into play as required dependent upon the situation confronted. In the past it seems convergent thinking was valued and seen as the arbiter of intelligence. So it seems that each is equally valuable in personal development and they are the ying and yang of learning. Another approach to divergent thought is the use of the imagination to ‘see’ problems in different ways. An example would be to think of how many uses one can find for a paperclip. Divergent thinking relates to imagination, inspiration, and bringing subjective experience to a problem. Is Divergent thinking the home of the artist and the dreamer?
A review of the literature has identified 5 thinking skills that are used to gauge the ability to think divergently. They are:
Fluency: The ability to generate ideas & meaningful responses
Flexibility: The ability to repurpose ideas
Originality: The capacity to produce rare and novel ideas
Elaboration: The capacity to embellish and develop ideas
It is possible that group learning tends to favour convergent thinking learning because the group will tend to look for and draw towards common ideas.
The ability to personal learning space to support individual and highly contextualised learning encourages divergent thinking. It allows the student to identify accidental or informal learning, to contextualise this into their unique social and work based circumstances, to see for themselves what interests them to enquire further and where deficiencies in learning are holding back professional effectiveness. In short, personal learning space encourages and accommodates divergent thinkers.
Divergent thinkers traditionally scored less in intelligence testing but now, the imaginative side of intelligence is finding in a renascence. With personal learning space, technology has become sufficiently refined and flexible to accommodate more easily the divergent aspects of thinking, capturing, marshalling and presenting the results.
Caroli M. & Sagone E. (2011) Creative thinking & big five factors of personality measured in Italian schoolchildren: Faculty of Educational Science - University of Catania. Italy