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Expand your creative thinking

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Human beings are born with innate drive for expansion, exploration and inquisitive thinking. However, the enhancement of creative expression requires a conducive learning environment that facilitates divergent thinking, which helps generate multiple ideas by exploring different possible solutions.

Divergent thinkers come up with new ideas and connect unconventional ideas to find multiple solutions to problems. Despite these benefits, there is a common propensity to use convergent thinking and rote learning as tools to promote learning. On the other hand, Convergent thinking confines a learner to think in a particular way, to retrieve pre-existing answers to questions/problems by applying concepts and knowledge without thinking out-of-the-box.

Mindless pursuit

Convergent thinking is adopted as a strategy to make learners prepare for standardised tests on the pretext that they must be trained to score well. But this restricts learners to use only the standard procedures and techniques to approach a problem.

Further, this method compels them to memorise mathematical calculations, formulas, concepts, and theories but does not allow them to apply the knowledge. The increased pressure to score high in standardised tests even compels convergent thinkers to memorise concepts and theories without understanding what they mean.

However, not only do divergent thinkers score well in standardised tests, but their creative abilities, problem-solving skills and leadership quality allows them to receive and connect unexpected ideas to discover new ideas.

In order to foster divergent thinking skills and make learning more creative, learners must be encouraged to expand their thinking skills using activities such as free writing, critical reading, topic analysis and book talk, among others.

Reigniting creativity

Human beings are biologically gifted to be creative, and the innate ability requires supportive conditions in the environment. Therefore, creativity has to be nourished right from childhood because children are more receptive and flexible to new ideas. For instance, children, while playing with blocks, build different structures and then demolish them to build a new one. This innate creative ability has to be reignited and nurtured in schools, colleges and universities.

In order to foster creativity, learners must be trained to engage with complex cognitive processes that prompt one to evaluate, analyse and synthesise ideas, and encouraged to relate these ideas with life experiences to gain new insights. Not only will it make learning pleasurable but also help them face challenges in their lives.

The writer is Professor and Head, Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, National Institute of Technology, Tiruchi. joseph@nitt.edu

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Printable version | Dec 6, 2020 3:47:23 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/education/expand-your-creative-thinking/article32472218.ece

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