Are you looking for ways to nurture your students’ creativity in the classroom? Do you want to help your students discover their abilities to develop alternative solutions and innovative ideas? Then enabling divergent thinking in the classroom is a great way to do it!
Divergent thinking is about pushing students to think beyond the “box.” It allows them to see many different perspectives, generates new ideas, and ultimately produces more creative results. This is why it’s essential for students to tap into their creative potential.
If your students are having a hard time thinking divergently, there are many different strategies you can try out in the classroom to help them develop this skill. But before moving on to these strategies, here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about divergent thinking.
What is divergent thinking
3 reasons why divergent thinking is important
Types of divergent thinking
How to enable divergent thinking in classrooms
10 best strategies to enable divergent thinking in classrooms
Divergent thinking vs other types of processes
What is Divergent Thinking?
Divergent thinking is a kind of “out of the box” thinking that allows people to come up with new and alternative solutions. It’s also about seeing things from a new and unique perspective and thinking in an open-minded way. It is a thought process that challenges the norm and opens up possibilities for new ideas.
It occurs when there are a number of possible answers to a question and is often preferred over convergent thinking. In divergent thinking, one starts with many possibilities and then winnows them down through some process until an answer or solution is found.
For instance, if you were to ask your students to write an article about how they prefer their eggs cooked, some of them might answer “Over easy,” “scrambled,” or even “poached.” However, there are other ways you can cook eggs as well. And it’s divergent thinking that allows people to see the different options and come up with new and innovative ways of doing things.
SplashLearn: Most Comprehensive Learning Program for PreK-5
SplashLearn inspires lifelong curiosity with its game-based PreK-5 learning program loved by over 40 million children. With over 4,000 fun games and activities, it’s the perfect balance of learning and play for your little one.Try for free
3 Reasons Why Divergent Thinking is Important
There are many reasons why you should try to encourage divergent thinking in the classroom. Let’s take a look at some of them:
1. It Generates New Ideas and Possibilities
It allows people to open up their minds, think in an open-minded way, and see things from a new perspective. They’re willing to question the current norms and come up with better solutions for problems.
2. It Develops Your Students’ Creativity
Divergent thinking enhances your students’ creative thinking and problem-solving abilities. This is because it encourages them to think outside the box, consider other angles and perspectives, and work out innovative solutions for specific problems.
Related Reading: The Learning Zone Model: A Complete Guide to the Zones of Learning
3. It Helps Your Students Come Up With Better Answers
When students are encouraged to think divergently, they start coming up with more original and unique answers. It also helps them come up with better and alternative solutions that they might not have thought of otherwise.
Types of Divergent Thinking
You need to be aware of three different types of divergent thinking. Let’s take a look at them below:
This type of thinking happens when your mind wanders away from the original topic you are trying to solve or think about. It happens because you are distracted, and your thoughts settle on something else.
This type of thinking requires you to stop thinking about a particular problem or idea for a period of time. When you are able to stop thinking about the problem, your mind will start working on it without you consciously trying to do so. This is where the idea or solution will ultimately come from.
This happens when you can quickly come up with an answer or solution. It’s like the idea just pops into your head, and you’re surprised at where it came from. Sometimes, though, it takes time for the ideas to come out in your work. This is because you need time to connect different dots and see how other pieces of information fit together.
How to Enable Divergent Thinking in the Classroom?
If you want your students to be able to think divergently, there are many techniques you can try out in the classroom. Let’s take a look at some of them:
Related Reading: How to Develop a Love for Reading in Students
1. Encourage Your Students to Ask Questions
One of the best ways to encourage divergent thinking is by asking questions. When you ask your students questions, they start wondering how things work or why particular situations are happening. They’re willing to think differently and develop new ideas for problems.
For instance, if your students are tasked with writing an article on improving the quality of air in their school, you could ask them how they would do this. Some might suggest planting more trees, while others might think about installing filters in classrooms.
2. Allow Your Students to Express Themselves
Divergent thinking is a result of a line of questioning, and allowing your students to express themselves freely can help you get to the root of their thought process. It helps open them up and makes it easier for you to seek their opinions and ideas.
3. Give Your Students an Empty Canvas
When you give your students an empty canvas or a white sheet, you allow them to think divergently and express themselves in any way they like. This kind of freedom leads to an open and unbiased approach towards a particular problem, yielding all kinds of unique results.
4. Encourage Your Students to Collaborate
When your students work together, they generate more ideas and possibilities for any given situation. This is because it opens up their minds and allows them to look at things from a different perspective – the one of another person. They’re more willing to think outside the box and come up with unique solutions for specific problems when they work in a group.
Now that you know how to enable divergent thinking in the classroom let’s learn some of the best strategies to implement these.
10 Best Strategies for Enabling Divergent Thinking in the Classroom
As we mentioned before, there are many different techniques you can try out in the classroom to encourage divergent thinking. Let’s look at some of the best ones you can use.
Related Reading: Best Educational Goal Examples that Matter for Students & Teachers
One of the best ways to encourage divergent thinking in the classroom is by using brainstorming techniques. Let your students come up with as many ideas as possible, and don’t be afraid to ask ‘what if’ questions.
For instance, if you want your students to come up with new recycling methods, you could ask them what would happen if they changed the current way of doing things.
Roleplaying is also a wonderful way to get your students to think divergently. You can assign different roles and let them come up with a solution for a particular problem by playing their part.
For example, if you want your students to come up with new ways of reducing food wastage, you could assign the student the role of a cook at a restaurant. Let them play this part and develop the most innovative solutions they can think of for this particular problem.
3. Think, Pair, Share
Another interesting technique you can use in the classroom is called ‘Think, Pair, Share.’ You can either do this with your students in the classroom, or if they prefer, you can assign them to work in pairs and do it at home.
The idea is to provide your students with a question, let them work in pairs to come up with an answer, and share their ideas with the rest of the class.
4. Opinion Swap
Opinion Swap is another exciting yet effective technique you can use in the classroom to encourage divergent thinking. You can either do this by splitting your students into groups or even picking one student to present their ideas and opinions.
After that, let their classmates try and convince them otherwise by presenting opinions that are counter to theirs. This can help open up their minds and may even lead to a change of opinion.
5. Mind Mapping
Mind mapping is a wonderful divergent thinking technique that uses a visual representation to stimulate the mind and encourage creativity.
All you need to do is draw a circle in the center of a piece of paper and let your students write down their ideas around this central theme. It doesn’t matter if their ideas are related or not, as long as they create unique connections between them.
6. Wild Scenario
This technique is quite simple yet extremely effective in the classroom. Provide your students with a scenario and let them create the wildest and most imaginative solution they can come up with.
For instance, if you want your students to think of new ways of cleaning the schoolyard, you could provide them with the following scenario: You are a superhero, and your mission is to save the world by cleaning up the schoolyard.
7. Learning Games
Another effective strategy you can use to encourage divergent thinking in the classroom is by implementing learning games. Yes, you read that right – learning games can actually be fun.
All you need to do is find the right kind of learning games and use them in your classroom to stimulate creativity and active learning. SplashLearn offers hundreds of learning games to help stimulate divergent thinking in your classroom.
8. Visual Thinking
One of the best ways to encourage divergent thinking in the classroom is by using visual stimulation. Ask your students to find pictures that represent their ideas and thoughts.
For example, if you want your students to come up with creative solutions for saving energy at school, you could ask them to find images that represent their ideas. You can even challenge them by asking them only to use the visual stimuli they found; you could tell them to find a picture of their idea and write a short description of it.
9. Change the Question
Changing the question is an interesting way of encouraging divergent thinking in the classroom. Provide your students with a particular question and ask them to change it slightly.
For example, if you ask them to come up with creative ways of recycling plastic bottles, change the question and ask them to come up with new ways of using plastic bottles. This way, your students will have to think differently and develop unique ideas that they might not have thought of before.
Related Reading: Best Teaching Strategies for 2022
Finally, one of the best ways to enable divergent thinking in the classroom is through self-reflection. Allow your students to retrospect and look back at their work.
For instance, if you want them to think of new ways of solving a particular problem, you could give them an opportunity to go back in time and change the course of events. How would they do things differently if given a chance? Let them share their thoughts with the rest of the class.
Now that you know how to encourage divergent thinking in the classroom, there’s no time to waste. Implement these strategies in your classroom and watch as your students gain a deeper understanding of certain topics and come up with new ways of solving problems in the most efficient manner.
Divergent Thinking vs. Other Processes
Though there are other processes that help individuals come up with new ideas, divergent thinking is by far the most effective in terms of creativity and potential. Let’s compare it to two other popular processes:
Divergent Thinking vs. Convergent Thinking
Divergent thinking is the complete opposite of convergent thinking. Convergent thinking helps people see things from one point of view, whereas divergent thinking encourages people to see things from many different points of view.
The main difference is that you have no limitations or restrictions when you engage in divergent thinking. The opposite is true for convergent thinking – here, you are given a particular problem, and the only way to get the right answer is by following a process and coming up with one solution.
Divergent Thinking vs. Lateral Thinking
Even though the two are often confused because they are both used for creative purposes, they are not the same.
Lateral thinking is a problem-solving technique that focuses on eliminating possibilities, whereas divergent thinking allows individuals to come up with as many different ideas as possible. You come up with one solution or idea through lateral thinking, but with divergent thinking, you don’t have to adhere to any limitations.
Let’s Make It Real
Encouraging divergent thinking in the classroom is essential for helping students come up with new and innovative ideas. There are many different ways to do this, and we’ve outlined some of the best strategies in this article.
By implementing these techniques, you’ll help your students understand certain topics better and think outside the box and come up with creative solutions to problems. So what are you waiting for? Get started today!
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What are the characteristics of divergent thinking?
Creativity, fluency, flexibility, and originality are the key characteristics of divergent thinking. Let’s take a closer look at each of these:
- Creativity: the ability to come up with unique ideas that have never been thought of before;
- Fluency: the ability to produce a high volume of ideas;
- Flexibility: the capacity to come up with different kinds of ideas on a variety of topics;
- Originality: the ability to think up an idea that has never been thought of before.
What is the difference between divergent thinking and creativity?
Divergent thinking is a specific form of creative thinking, not all types of creative thinking. Divergent thinking refers to the ability to generate many different responses.
How do you generate ideas with divergent thinking?
Divergent thinking is simply a process of generating ideas. You can use it at school, at home, or anywhere else. There are different steps to follow when you’re engaging in divergent thinking:
- Define a problem to work on;
- Generate ideas about the problem by brainstorming;
- Evaluate the ideas that you’ve generated.
What are some examples of divergent thinking?
There are many different ways to use divergent thinking, but here are just a few examples that will give you an idea of how it works. If students want to learn a new skill but don’t know where to start, they can use divergent thinking.
If students are stuck with a math problem, they can use divergent thinking to find the right answer. And if business people want to come up with novel ideas for their business, they should use divergent thinking. You can even use it to come up with new ideas for your personal life!
How does divergent thinking help teachers?
Engaging in divergent thinking can help teachers find innovative ways to teach students. This type of thinking encourages teachers to see beyond the traditional methods of teaching, which can help students learn the topic at hand and come up with creative solutions to problems.