Divergent Thinking | Summary and Q&A

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July 31, 2017
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Stanford eCorner
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Divergent Thinking

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Summary

This video explores the concept of convergent and divergent thinking using examples from math problems and exams at Oxford University. Convergent thinking involves finding the one right answer, while divergent thinking allows for multiple possible answers. The video emphasizes the importance of both types of thinking and how divergent thinking can showcase creativity and critical thinking skills.

Questions & Answers

Q: Why do we all know the answer to a math problem like 5 + 5 equals 10?

We know this is ten because this problem has one right answer. It requires convergent thinking, where everyone converges on the same answer.

Q: What if the question is slightly different, like X + Y = 10? How many answers are there to that?

There are infinite answers to this question. It requires divergent thinking, where we consider different possibilities, including negative numbers, fractions, and decimals.

Q: How does convergent thinking differ from divergent thinking?

Convergent thinking involves finding the one right answer, while divergent thinking allows for multiple possible answers. Both types of thinking are important and have their place in different situations.

Q: Do these thinking patterns only apply to math problems?

No, these thinking patterns apply to various aspects of life. Math problems serve as an example, but the same principles can be applied to other fields or scenarios.

Q: Can you give an example of how divergent thinking is utilized outside of kindergarten?

In Oxford University, to gain admission to some colleges, applicants have to answer a one-word exam question. This question is open-ended, requiring divergent thinking to explore various aspects, connections, and interpretations of the given word.

Q: What do these one-word exams at Oxford teach the readers about the applicants?

The one-word exams at Oxford assess how applicants think, connect ideas, and combine their knowledge to answer the question. It showcases their creativity, critical thinking skills, and ability to create an integrated story with limited information.

Q: Are one-word exams intimidating?

Many people find one-word exams intimidating because they require thinking outside the box and exploring different possibilities. However, some individuals might find them enjoyable and challenging.

Q: How does divergent thinking contribute to creativity?

Divergent thinking allows for multiple perspectives, ideas, and possibilities. It encourages exploring unconventional paths and coming up with unique solutions, promoting a creative mindset.

Q: Can convergent thinking and divergent thinking complement each other?

Yes, both types of thinking can be valuable. Convergent thinking helps in finding specific solutions and solving problems efficiently, while divergent thinking brings creativity and alternative perspectives into play.

Q: How can one develop their divergent thinking skills?

Divergent thinking skills can be developed through practice and exposure to different scenarios. Engaging in activities that require brainstorming, exploring different solutions, and considering various perspectives can enhance divergent thinking abilities.

Takeaways

Convergent thinking, with its focus on finding the one right answer, and divergent thinking, which allows for multiple possibilities, both have their place in problem-solving and critical thinking. While convergent thinking is necessary for certain situations, divergent thinking showcases creativity, alternative perspectives, and the ability to connect ideas in complex ways. Embracing both thinking patterns can lead to well-rounded and innovative approaches to challenges.

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