Middle Childhood: Divergent Thinking - Essay Example

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Linear, non-divergent thinking usually comes up with only one solution, but with divergent thinking, a person can approach one problem in different perspectives yielding different plausible solutions to the problem. This…
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Middle Childhood: Divergent Thinking
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Divergent Thinking Divergent thinking is a creative way to attack a problem. Linear, non-divergent thinking usually comes up with only one solution,but with divergent thinking, a person can approach one problem in different perspectives yielding different plausible solutions to the problem. This is the hallmark of psychologist J.P. Guilford’s research on creativity in the 1950s.An implication of his idea is that if you want your child to be gifted and creative, he or she must develop divergent thinking abilities, since such way of looking at things is indicative of creativity and giftedness (Gale, 1998).
According to Wilson (2004), there are eight traits associated with divergent thinking: 1) fluency, 2) flexibility, 3) elaboration, 4) originality, 5) complexity, 6) risk-taking, 7) imagination, and 8) curiosity.
Fluency is the ability to generate a good number of ideas that would yield possible solutions to a problem. This is one characteristic that cannot be set-aside in a divergent thinker. He or she is like a hunter that could use different types of gun to kill the prey.
Flexibility is the ability to put ideas into different categories, each of which has different associated ideas and meanings, significant to the solution of some problem. For example, a divergent thinker will be able to say that a glass is half-full and half-empty by realizing that one is a category for scarcity and the other is a category for abundance, and that they not be mutually exclusive. Hence, a divergent would think that both statements are true.
Elaboration is the ability to make substantial additions to an idea. For example, the idea of freedom is abstract and all-encompassing. Non-divergent thinkers could simply accept that freedom is the right to be oneself and happy without violating the rights of others. On the other hand, the divergent thinker will be capable of providing examples of the idea, and usually those examples are ways in which ordinary, non-divergent thinkers would ever realize.
Originality is the ability to come up with new ideas that are really out of the ordinary. For example, it is consensus that when Magdalene committed adultery, Jesus forgave her. I divergent thinker might think that Jesus did not actually forgive her since he did not need to, and that there was no mention of the word forgiveness in the passage at question. The divergent-thinking child will definitely come up with mind-blowing ideas such as this one.
Complexity is the ability to come up with ideas or products with multiple layers of meaning. The idea can be likened to a multi-purpose tool. In the realm of thought, such idea can be used in different context even though the underlying meaning remains the same; the nuance, however, is different.
Risk-taking is the willingness to do exactly the opposite of the norm in pursuit of an idea. Usually, this would involve potential loss of life or simply loss of privileges. For the divergent thinker, life is boring without risks, and that risks are necessary in order to gain a bountiful reward.
Imagination is the faculty of the creative, divergent-thinking mind that is able to generate unprecedented concepts and ideas. On a milder form, this could be the use of existing ideas into something more useful. A great example of this component is the Wright Brothers’ imagination and dream of a world where people can fly.
Curiosity is the eagerness to ask questions about an idea. There are not simply ordinary questions, but probing ones, or simply put, those that will tend to deepen the appreciation of an apparently simple idea.
It is essential that if we want our children to cope with real-world problems, we must educate them to think creatively, that is make them divergent thinkers. In an early study, it was discovered that children best develop divergent thinking when trained to do so at the kindergarten level (Cliatt, M., Shaw, J., & Sherwood, J., 1980).
Children are said to be gullible and must be guided properly. In training children to be divergent thinkers, it is essential that they develop their faculty to evaluate the veracity of their ideas. It might be a common sense thing to think that creativity in children could lead them to false beliefs, but a study found that the divergent thinking abilities of children improve once they learned to “understand false beliefs.” (Suddendorf & Fletcher-Flinn, 1999) Creativity, then, does not imply the inclusion of falsehood.
Charles & Runco (2001) found in their study that when children are tasked to evaluate the level of originality of their thinking, accuracy of such judgment increased with age. Therefore, divergent thinking has age and level of development as variables.
In conclusion, there are no clear cut ways of developing divergent thinking. The original author of this concept has provided the necessary criteria for what constitute divergent thinking. But it remains a given that different cultures or even subcultures in a society will likely have different conceptions of creativity and those qualities of divergent thinking. Hence, more studies must be made so that appropriate and culturally relevant divergent thinking may be developed.
Charles, R., & Runco, M. (2001). Developmental Trends in the Evaluative and Divergent Thinking of Children. Creativity Research Journal, 13(3/4), 417-437. Retrieved March 12, 2009, from Academic Search Complete database.
Cliatt, M., Shaw, J., & Sherwood, J. (1980). Effects of Training on the Divergent-Thinking Abilities of Kindergarten Children. Child Development, 51, 1061-1064. Retrieved March 12, 2009, from MLA International Bibliography database.
Gale, T. (1998). Gale Encyclopedia of Childhood and Adolescence. Retrieved 13 March 2009, from
Suddendorf, T. and Fletcher-Flinn, C. M. (1999) Childrens Divergent Thinking Improves When They Understand False Beliefs. Creativity Research Journal, 12 2, special issue: 115-128. Retrieved 13 March 2009, from
Wilson, L. (2004). Divergent Thinking Abilities. Retrieved 13 March 2003, from Read More
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