Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Thinking differently with divergent and convergent modes

The American psychologist Joy Paul Guilford (1897-1987) introduced the terms divergent and convergent thinking in 1946.  The divergent and convergent thinking are two natural forms of thinking (two sides to the same coin) that produces solutions to problems (production type of thinking). “Convergence” refers to thinking that leads to a single correct solution. “Divergence” refers to thinking that leads to number of correct solutions. Both divergent and convergent thinking are necessary for problem solving, decision making, creativity and innovation. Divergent thinking is used to create ideas and convergent thinking is used to judge ideas. Convergent thinking is opposite of divergent thinking. In divergent thinking, one thought stimulates many others and the thinking branches or broaden out (multi-directional thinking). In convergent thinking, many thoughts are reduced to a single one and the thinking funnels in (linear thinking). In divergent thinking, a problem can be solved with different approaches whereas in convergent thinking, there is one answer for any given problem. Divergent thinking is generating options without judgement and convergent thinking is judging the options.
Creativity = “diverge before you converge
Creativity = Divergent thinking (“thinking up ideas”) + convergent thinking (“assess the effectiveness of the ideas”) 
Creativity = Generating many ideas + converging on the best idea 
Definitions and explanations
Convergent thinking is the ability to apply logic and knowledge to narrow down the number of possible solutions to a problem. Convergent thinking is more rigorous and analytical and is associated with focused attention.  Consideration, improving and fine – tuning of ideas are part of convergent thinking. Convergent thinking focuses on ‘screening, selecting and evaluating alternatives’ (Puccio et al. 2006). The goal of convergent thinking is to find the one correct answer or the best answer of the options available.
Divergent thinking is the ability to think along many paths to generate many solutions to a problem. Brain storming is a typical example of divergent thinking. Divergent thinking is essentially open-ended thinking involving non-logical processes which allows using one’s imagination to explore all sorts of new possibilities. The goal of divergent thinking is to come up with many possible solutions, answers or options. Divergent thinking typically occurs in a spontaneous, free-flowing manner and many ideas are generated in a random, unorganized fashion. J.P. Guilford (1950, 1967) described divergent thinking as a primary method of achieving creative ideas.  
Divergent thinking à thinking outwards—centrifugal movement-- broad focus of attention—less goal bound—gathering diverse points of view—suspending judgement-- idea generation—creative process.

Convergent thinking à thinking inwards –centripetal movement--narrow focus of attention –more goal bound -- sorting ideas into categories—exercising judgement – idea analysis—evaluative process.

Convergence and divergence
Convergence means bringing together and moving toward one point. Divergence means developing in different directions. Divergence is a mode of thinking in which one uses the right brain to explore ideas or solutions without judging them. In convergence thinking mode one uses the left brain to analyse ideas and think them through logically.  Convergence and divergence are two necessary types of thinking for being creative. In any problem solving situation from the beginning to the end, individuals are shifting their thinking modes between divergence and convergence. The ability to switch from one type of thinking to other is called pivot thinking. Pivot thinking is a cognitive problem solving style that easily pivots or shifts between divergent or convergent problem solution possibilities. One of the key indicators of an innovative process is the alternation between divergent and convergent thinking modes of thinking with frequent pivots between the two modes. A “converger” would tend to prefer convergent problem solving techniques while a “diverger” would tend to favour divergent problem solving techniques. A “pivot thinker” would display problem solving preferences that easily pivots or shifts between divergent and convergent approaches.
Rules of divergent thinking
A divergent thinking involves imaging, reframing and seeing issues from different perspectives. Divergent thinking is complex, associative process of bringing alternative, novel, and original ideas to emergence. Divergent thinking allows one’s imagination to produce variability and encourages the production of multiple answers. It involves thinking laterally, not just in or convergent ways.  Divergent thinking usually occurs in a spontaneous, free-flowing and non-linear manner. Einstein was a strong divergent thinker. The strategies for encouraging divergent thinking include brainstorming, keeping a journal, free- writing and mind mapping.
1. Expand ideas and defer judgement
2.  Create and accept plenty of ideas
3.  Combine ideas and consider novelty
4.   Break paradigms and generate strange ideas.
Commandments of divergent thinking (M.D. Jones)
  1. The more the ideas, the better – “Quantity breeds quality.”
  2.  Build on other ideas –expand the range of options, perspectives and elements.
  3. Seek wild and unusual ideas –wacky ideas incite humour and open up many paths.
  4.  Don’t evaluate ideas – suspend judgment.  
Forms of divergent production (Paul Torrance 1915-2003)
  1.  Fluency –generating many ideas.
  2. Flexibility – generating different types of ideas.
  3. Originality – generating novel ideas.
  4.  Elaboration – building on and developing ideas.
Rules of convergent thinking
 Convergent thinking processes move from data, clues or parts of a problem to a specific idea. Convergent thinking involves analysis of ideas and synthesis in to concepts, evaluation and prioritization of concepts. Convergent thinking narrows down a large number of ideas through the process of analysing, sorting, judging, eliminating and selecting (directed thinking). Convergent thinking emphasizes accuracy, correctness and effectiveness. In convergent thinking, there is usually one conclusion or answer that is regarded as unique and thinking is channelled or controlled in the direction of that answer. Convergent thinking allows us to use our knowledge to examine concepts. Convergent thinking is particularly appropriate in science, maths and technology. Convergent thinking is essentially about traditional problem solving.
  1. Be systematic and analyse the objectives
  2.  Evaluate the ideas using rules of logic
  3. Use intuition
  4. No paradigm breaking and draw a best answer.
Convergent and divergent thinking skills are both important to critical thinking. Convergent and divergent thinking tools are extremely helpful when making decisions. Creative achievement requires a complex combination of both divergent and convergent thinking. In the generation stage, teams or individuals use divergent thinking to develop novel ideas. In the application stage, they use convergent thinking to make those ideas useful. Divergent thinking is the wellspring of invention. In academic settings, when a student takes a multiple choice exam, he tries to find out the right answer from a set of incorrect options. Most training in schools encourages convergent thinking. 
                                      "Diverge before you converge"
                                       "Not all thinking is the same"

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Worldviews: the best way to change your lens on the world

People have different mental concepts and different ways of looking at the world. A worldview is a person’s mental concept on all of the world and the whole of life or a system of philosophy relating to it. Worldview literally means “a general view of the world” or “philosophy of life.” Every human being has a worldview. Most people do not even know they have one. A worldview can be true about some things and not true about other things. Worldview is the framework of beliefs, values and images within which a person makes decisions and conducts the business of living. In other words our worldview not only describes reality, but it also prescribes how we act and respond to every aspect of life. The worldview is not only the content, but also the mode of thinking about reality. Worldviews develop over the course of a lifetime and are transmitted from generation to generation through such means as education, family tradition, religious belief, political orientation and the mass media. Worldview affects what one believe about God, marriage, politics, social structures, environmental concern, educational requirements, economics, the raising of children, food habits etc.

Scope of worldviews
Our worldviews help in determining our priorities in life. Worldviews helps to explain our relationship to God, fellow human beings and environment. Worldviews help oneself to assess the meaning of events. Worldviews also helps to justify one’s actions.
“The ideas and beliefs we use to guide our actions. We use them to explain cause and effect as we see them, and to give meaning to our experience.”  -O’Connor, 1997.
The term ‘worldview’ is a mental framework through which individuals and groups view the nature of reality, the nature and purpose of human life, and the laws governing human relationships.
“A worldview constitutes an overall perspective on life that sums up what we know about the world, how we evaluate it emotionally, and how we respond to it volitionally” (Rudolf A. Makkreel 1999).
Phillips and Brown (1991) state that, “a worldview is, first of all, an explanation and interpretation of the world” and second, “an application of this view to life.”
The term ‘worldview’ or weltanschauung (German) was first used by Immanuel Kant in his Critique of judgement, first published in 1970. He combined two German words into one: welt which means “world” and Anschauung, which means, ‘conception’ ‘idea’, opinion’ or ‘view’.
Salient features of worldview
The worldview is the overall perspective from which one sees and interprets the world. Most worldviews are learned early in life and are not easily changed. Worldview is intuitively developed and does not require individuals to have higher or university education. Worldview is not one’s point of view but it is much more than personal preference or opinion. Worldviews evolve in response to critical examination and reflection. Every religion reflects a worldview and every secular ideology reflects a worldview. Worldviews are often varying among individuals as a result of cultural traditions and experiences. Worldviews are ideal types. They are used for description rather than prescription; for analysis rather than evaluation.  The worldviews are shaped by our life experiences which in turn reshape our approach to life. Religion, philosophy, ethics, morality, science, politics and all other belief systems shape our worldview.  Worldviews can be resources for understanding and analysing conflicts when fundamental differences divide groups of people. Worldviews are important determinants of risk perception. Worldviews shape all that we think, do or consider to be normal or abnormal and acceptable or unacceptable and trustworthy or unreliable. Worldviews can lead to beliefs, behaviour and lifestyles that can work for or against environmental sustainability. The analysis of one’s worldviews is a powerful starting point for examining belief systems.
Characteristics of worldviews
  1. Worldview is the truth claims that explain the world and reality. It is the sum total of what we believe about the world. It helps people make sense of the world.
  2.  Worldview should be rational. It should not be contradictory.
  3.   It should be supported by evidence. It should be consistent with what we observe.
  4.   It should give a satisfying comprehensive explanation of reality.
  5.   It should provide a satisfying basis for living.
Types of worldviews
Formal worldview –is a major system of ideas that orders human hearts and mind.
Personal worldview – is one-to-one relationship with the established formal worldviews.
Environmental worldview – is collective beliefs and values that give people a sense of how the world works, their role in the environment and right or wrong behavior toward the environment.
Western worldview –sees human as dominant over nature and feels natural resources should be used for the benefit of humanity.
Key elements of worldviews
Views of human nature- basic beliefs about nature of people-e.g. people are naturally good or evil.
View of the good life – the goals to strive for living one’s life – e.g. personal accomplishment, peace of mind, love, adventure.
Equality with others – belief about the status of some individuals or groups in relation to others – e.g. social status and hierarchy.
Responsibilities to others – beliefs about the extent of obligations to others – e.g. self-centered or other- centered.
Relationship between individual and the state (govt) – beliefs about the balance between individual and collective rights – e.g. individual rights are more important than the rights of the society.
Relationship of humans with nature – beliefs about the way human beings should look on and act toward the environment – e.g. preserving nature is more important than using natural resources to support human activity.
Sources of ethical wisdom – beliefs about the ultimate authority for ethical principles – e.g. religion, God, science, natural rights.
Core areas of worldviews 
  1. God and the immaterial
  2. The meaning and purpose of life
  3.  Human nature
  4.  What we trust in the primary source of spiritual truth.
Factors affecting worldviews
Ideas and knowledge – what a group knows e.g. scientific, intellectual, technological, artistic and spiritual knowledge.
Contact with other groups – interactions between societies and between different groups in a society.
Geography – where a group lives: the climate, plants and animals, bodies of water and natural resources.

Importance of worldviews
Worldviews serve as the necessary foundation and framework of our thoughts and actions. It is our belief about what is real and important –belief about the unseen –the spiritual, the philosophical and valuable. Our worldview will determine how we interpret our lives and the world around us. It shapes how we think about everything. Everyone constructs ‘a worldview story’ to make sense of our lives. Different cultural contexts lead to the formation of unique worldviews, beliefs, values, and assumptions, modes of social conduct, behavior and expectations among individuals.  Worldviews keep our lives coherent, giving oneself a sense of meaning, purpose and connection. Worldviews create a context for everything we do. Worldviews provide some purpose to a given cultural system. It gives a paradigm of reality for a particular society. Worldviews stimulate people’s imagination.  Worldviews have formative influence on the lives of individuals, communities, groups and especially those in positions of leadership. Worldviews have a significant influence on the overall health of an individual. Worldviews can influence student learning and development in academic settings. Worldviews contain something more than scientific information. Region is the cornerstone of worldviews.
“Our worldview changes as our beliefs change. If you change your core beliefs in your worldviews,then your life will change drastically.”

Monday, June 13, 2016

Personal creativity- the unique human resource

What is creativity?
Creativity is defined as a combination of abilities, skills, motivations and attitudes (Honig 2006). In other words, creativity is the capacity or ability of an individual to create, discover or produce a product, thought, art, process etc.  Creative thinking is thinking ‘out of the box’ to produce new, novel or original unique ideas or solutions. The creative process uses divergent and convergent thinking. Facione (1998) describes creative or innovative thinking as the kind of thinking that leads to new insights, novel approaches, fresh perspectives, and whole new ways of understanding and conceiving things.
Creativity is complex
Creativity is a highly complex phenomenon.  The creative process refers to the sequence of thoughts and actions that leads to a creative idea or a product. Creativity involves ideas, purposefulness, playfulness, exploration, problem solving, and artistic and imaginative invention. Creativity requires the interaction of four themes – people, context, method and outcome. In short, creativity is not a simple thing- it is multidimensional.
Every human is a creator
Every person is inherently creative.  Expression of creativity in each person is only a matter of degree and frequency. Creativity is possible in all areas of human activity like arts, sciences, business, technology and daily life. Creativity has transformed our cultures, economies and life styles. Creativity is valued by human society.  Creativity is a major driver of human evolution.
Creativity is a habit (Sternberg 2006)
An eminent American psychologist Robert J. Sternberg conceived of Creativity as a habit  – a routine response. Creative people habitually respond to problems in fresh and novel ways (Albert and Runco 1999). Creativity can be made into a habit. There are three basic factors that help turn creative thinking into a habit: opportunities (to engage in it), encouragement (to go after such opportunities) and rewards (for the demonstration of creative outcomes).
Creativity exists at all ages
The potential for creativity exists in all people and at all ages. In general creativity develops with age and experience. Creativity may changes in quality across the life span. Creativity is a function of knowledge, curiosity, imagination and evaluation. Creativity is bound to situations and contexts. Creativity is a state of mind that is fresh, alert and sensitive.Creative mind explores new possibilities, patterns and options. Creative individuals are typically “buy low and sell high” in the world of ideas (Sternberg and Lubart 1995).
Creativity exists in all domains
Creativity is found in many domains such as the arts, literature, sciences and everyday life. Creativity is often enhanced when one crosses domains. Creative people often transfer their knowledge and skills from one field and apply them to another. They have the advantage of seeing the new domain from different perspectives and of making significant changes. Creative people are really good at mixing and matching all sorts of seemingly contradictory emotions, ideas and personality traits to produce something truly original and valuable.
Creativity is making and breaking connections
Making is connecting –making connections is an important aspect of creativity (Duffy 1998). The acts of creativity usually involve connecting things together (materials, ideas or both) to make something new and novel.  Creativity arises from the conceptual integration of other’s ideas. Conceptual blending is a creative thinking process that involves blending two or more concepts in the same mental space to form new ideas.  Creativity is the ability to make connections between things that do not seem related. Sometimes creative ideas may come from new combinations of old ideas.
Creativity keys
The first key to creative thinking is clarity. Creativity needs critical thinking in evaluating and improving ideas. Critical thinker thinks clearly, precisely and rationally. The second key is concentration.  The creative thinker has to put aside and concentrate single-mindedly on focusing one’s mental powers on solving one single problem. The third key is open mind. The creative thinker tends to remain very flexible and open to a variety of ways of approaching the problem. The fourth key is inspiration. It means being inspired by oneself or by others. Creativity thrives on curiosity, fresh input and rich domains of knowledge. Another key to creativity is motivation i.e., having a purpose to do so. Motivation is what we need to add value to creative effort. Creativity needs encouragement of others. The sixth key to creativity is gestation i.e. allowing time for creative ideas to emerge. Insight and intuition are often associated with creativity. The seventh key to creativity is collaboration through the support of others or a community.
Creativity is the main driver of innovation
Creativity is about imagination and ideas whereas innovation is about actions and process. Creativity is largely cognitive and innovation is largely behavioural. Creativity involves only ‘thinking up new things’ and innovation is only ‘doing new things’ (Peters and Waterman 1982). Innovation is the end result of creative process. The ideas (creativity) can be capable of being transformed into successful action (innovation).  Innovation requires creativity, but creativity does not always lead to innovation.
        Creative power = Imagination+ Determination+ desire to launch
Creativity is a synergy of many personality traits
There are six personal traits essential for creativity: intelligence, knowledge, thinking styles, personality attributes, motivation and environment. Creative people possess a cluster of traits such as curiosity, originality, ingenuity and a willingness to challenge convention and tradition. Creative people are purposeful dreamers. Day dreaming is a healthful, problem solving brain practice. Dreamers always dream of change. They dream of better world, a better reality and a better future.
A creative person is a divergent thinker
Divergent thinking is a prerequisite for creative performance. Divergent thinking is one aspect of lateral thinking. Fluency, flexibility and originality are considered the primary components of divergent thinking. Divergent thinking involves processes like shifting perspectives, transforming or producing multiple answers from the available information and thus favours the production of novel and unconventional ideas.
Creativity is a  process
Creativity unfolds as a process. In 1926, Graham Wallas described stages of creativity in which a creative idea is first prepared, then internalized through incubation, after which the creative individual uses the illumination or insight to finally go through the verification process of applying the idea.
             Preparation à Incubationà Illumination à Verification (Wallas, 1926).
            Clarificationà Transformation àImplementation
Diversity is the mother of creativity
Cultural diversity breeds creativity. Culturally different people have different interpretations of the world. People have different ways of generating solutions to problems. Diversity in thinking looks for solutions from diverse perspectives of a problem. Teams can use diversity of techniques in order to generate more creative ideas. For example teams with racial diversity significantly outperform the groups with no racial diversity.
Creativity is tied to culture
Culture is what makes us who we are. It gives us strength; it is a wellspring of creativity and innovation.  There are many different ways by which societies shape all aspects of creative expression ranging from the availability of resources to the provision of rewards.
Creativity is enjoyable
Creativity brings about a sense of satisfaction, accomplishment and reward. It can also provide a sense of peacefulness and joy. There is a direct connection between fun and laughter and creativity. Freedom, democracy and tolerance encourage greater creativity.
Creativity shapes academic success
Educational achievement is closely associated with creativity and intelligence to a certain level. Creativity is more important than intellectual capacity- helping one to learn more effectively, efficiently and flexibly. In general creative individuals are achievement – oriented.
Creativity is valuable
The outcomes of creativity bring about benefits for individuals, groups and organizations. A nation needs creative scientists, engineers, technocrats economists, poets, painters, musicians etc. . Great inventions, scientific discoveries, all forms of artistic expressions –painting, literature, music, drama – have depended on creative thinking. Creativity is the central ingredient in human development. The function of creativity is to improve society, products and services become more convenient, cheaper, faster and better. Creativity transformed our cultures, our lifestyles and our daily life. Creativity is an essential skill for effective leadership and entrepreneurship. Creativity is critical to the performance and survival of any organization. Creativity is an ultimate economic resource. Historians of sciences have used “discoveries” as the bench marks of economic progress.
Creativity is a tool for survival
Creativity is one of the primary instincts and motivating forces of life. Everyone is born creative. Creativity is a natural part of being human. Creativity provides anyone with an intrinsic ability to face and respond to the uncertainty and mysteries of our existence. Creativity supports one’s drive to be more competitive, productive and effective. Creativity is a vital source for meeting the challenges and dangers as well as opportunities.
Creativity is 85% a leaned skill (Harvard study) 
Creativity is potentially achievable by anyone, anywhere. Everyone can strengthen their creative powers with practice, persistence and patience. In order to develop creativity, one has to focus on creativity every day. He has to try something new every day. Creativity is more like a muscle that needs to be exercised in order to consistently give out best results.
“Creativity stands out as an activity to be studied, cherished and cultivated.”  -Silvano Arieti.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Lifelong self-directed learning

Self-directed learning (SDL) is listed as a key component of the 21st century skill for adult learners. Self-directed learning is viewed as a process “in which a learner assumes primary responsibility for planning, implementing and evaluating the learning process” (Brockett and Hiemstra 1991). Self –directed learners learn more things and learn better than teacher –directed learners (TDL). The goal of lifelong learning is to equip people with skills and competencies to continue their own “self-education” beyond the borders of formal education. Online learning is also closely associated with self-directed learning from both the process and the personal attribute perspective. American Association of Colleges and Universities (2002, 2007) suggests that a major goal of higher education is to create lifelong learners – intentional, independent, self-directed learners, who can acquire, retain and retrieve new knowledge on their own. Now a days there is increasing recognition of the importance self-directed learning within higher education. Knowles (1975) views self-directed learning as an inherent characteristic of adults, closely related to a natural process of professional and psychological development.

Basic ideas of self-directed learning
The concept of SDL consists of three distinctive ideas: (1) A self-initiated process of learning that stresses individual’s ability to plan and manage his/her own learning. (2) An attribute or characteristic of learners with personal autonomy as its hallmark. (3) A way of organizing instruction in formal settings that allows for greater learner control (Cafferella 1993). Self-directed learning is also named, “self-teaching, independent learning, autonomous learning, individual learning, self-initiated learning, self-instruction, self-study and self-education.”
Goals of self-directed learning
The goals of SDL can be grouped as follows: (1) to enhance the ability of adult learners to be self directed in their learning ; (2) to foster transformational learning as central to SDL; (3) to promote emancipatory  learning and social action as an integral part of SDL.
Characteristics of self-directed learners
  1.    Independent in learning;
  2.    Effective in learning;
  3.   Accepting of responsibility for learning, and
  4.   Able to use problem solving skills.
Competencies for being a self directed learner (Knowles 1995)
  1.  Understanding the differences between teacher- directed and self-directed learning;
  2.  Determining one’s concept as a self-directed being;
  3.  Relating to peers collaboratively and as  resources for learning;
  4.  Diagnosing learning needs and formulating objectives;
  5.  Viewing teachers as facilitators;
  6.  Identifying other resources;
  7. Collecting and validating evidence of accomplishments.
Knowles (1995) defined SDL as a process in which individuals take the initiative’ without the help of others, in diagnosing their learning needs, formulating learning goals, identifying human and material resources for learning, choosing and implementing appropriate learning strategies and evaluating those learning outcomes.
Self- directed learning is any knowledge, skill, accomplishment or personal development that an individual selects and brings about by his or her own efforts using any method in any circumstances at any time (Gibbons 2002).
Steps in SDL (Knowles 1975)
The learners undergo following steps: (1) climate setting; (2) diagnosing learning needs; (3) formulating learning goals; (4) identifying human and material resources for learning; (5) choosing and implementing appropriate learning strategies; and (6) evaluating learning outcomes.
Advantages of SDL
  1. Self-directed learning promotes self-confidence, initiative, perseverance and life satisfaction.
  2.  Self-directed learning helps learners to be motivated, independent, self-reflective, self-disciplined and goal oriented.
  3. Self-directed learning provides opportunities to pursue wider range of interests other than the usual school curriculum.
  4. Self-directed learners can gain new skills, knowledge and attitudes to improve their work performances.
  5. Self-directed learning in higher education provides opportunities for adult learners to learn how to learn as well as lifelong learning.
  6. Self-directed learning can not only leads to be more effective learning, but can also result in immediate professional successes.
Disadvantages of SDL
  1.  Self-directed learning is prone to frequent errors.
  2.  Self-directed learning is quite time consuming.
SDL refers to an instructional method. SDL is compatible with any and all learning styles and strategies. SDL is a process of learning appropriate for adults, who weaned away from traditional educational consumption. Self-directed learning is fully an autonomous learning. Personal autonomy is the hallmark of SDL. Self-directed learners take full responsibility for their education. SDL is a process that centres on the activities of planning, implementing and evaluating learning. Self – direction does not mean the learner learns alone or in isolation. SDL occurs outside of formal institutions. SDL is NOT time –dependent.  SDL is a tool for lifelong learning. SDL provides a foundation for transformative learning. Educators can facilitate learners become increasingly able to assume personal responsibility for their own learning (Brockett and Hiemstra1991). Educational institutions  at all levels can prepare learners for a life of self-direction.

              Self-direction in learning is a way of life (Brockett and Hiemstra 1991).