Divergent thinking is a process or method used to generate creative ideas by exploring many possible solutions. Learning through play, creative projects and imaginary are ways that encourage divergent thinking. Teaching methods for divergent thinking involve offering schools many ideas and solutions for problem as well as encouraging children to find creative ways to learn. Divergent thinking encourages children to take risks, learn how to be flexible and use their imagination. Without imagination, no one will be able to stand out from the crowd and go a bit further into the solution, coming up with fresh, new ideas. Starting with a single idea, the divergent thinker allows his or her mind to wander in many different directions, gathering numerous thoughts and ideas which relate to the concept. Divergent thinking can be used as a method of brainstorming in a wide variety of settings, ranging from the research and development department of a major company to the class room.
Divergent thinkers tend to throw the rules out the window. They are artistic and always find ways to express themselves. Impressive 5 year olds scored 98% at the genius level in such a test of divergent thinking. Test takers age 10 however, saw their number drop to 32%, on the other hand the high school level was only 10%. It seems that as student mature through the educational system they have some of these creative instincts driven out or socialized out of them. It is often said that school teaches us to stop thinking creatively, how to conform, to come up the correct idea or answer: Convergent thinking. But as children grow older, they will be expected to come up with new ideas, projects, and innovations to make them stand out in the job market and on the career level. For too long, “divergent thinking” has taken a backseat to its more well-recognized and well-respected cousin, “critical thinking.” I think that building your divergent and creative thinking muscles is crucial, not just for success in the new economy, but in weaving a vibrant and fulfilling life that draws upon the best of who you are.
As a child, art class is the main home of divergent and creative thinking. Yet once we reach middle school and become conditioned in societal norms, “divergent thinking” becomes a domain saved only for “weirdoes,” poor artists, and creative geniuses who we could never understand anyway. Our lack of emphasis on creative thinking does us all a disservice, because divergent thinking brings powerful and transformativebenefits to life and work. The person skilled in the art of divergent and creative thinking can look at a blank piece of paper and see possibilities. They can look at a roadblock and see solutions. Not just one solution but many of them. They can create things that you think were impossible. In this sense, divergent thinkers are magicians. They can break out of the idea that there’s a right way to have a career. They can turn the rules of life completely upside down and create unbelievable lives for themselves because they see possibilities, solutions, and options everywhere. In sum, divergent, creative thinking is the master skill for breaking out of your conventional, patterned, routine ways of living and trying something new. It can help you become a magician able to weave a life that you love.