Divergent and Convergent Thinking – Getting Outside the Box

Published On: February 18th, 2016·By ·

Divergent and Convergent Thinking – Which one is more important?

Teachers push students to think outside the box using two thinking patterns: divergent and convergent thinking. These two ways of thinking have been a hot topic recently. I watch social media closely and it's my job to share some of the hot topics on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and other outlets that teachers, principals, students, and parents are contributing.

First off, we need to know what exactly divergent and convergent thinking are. We Are Teachers posted an infographic from educational artist Sylvia Duckworth explaining divergent and convergent thinking. In short, divergent thinking is all about using imagination. It's about asking questions, coming up with ideas, and brainstorming. People also call divergent thinking creative or horizontal thinking. Convergent thinking is the opposite. It's all about using logic and facts and finding the answer. People also call this kind of thinking critical, vertical, analytical, or linear thinking. The image below summarizes this.

divergent and convergent thinking

So which one is the most important? Both. Asking questions doesn't help much if you can't find any answers. Likewise, having answers isn't helpful if you can't even come up with a question. Our job as teachers is to make sure our classes incorporate both kinds of thinking. If you're a math teacher, you might struggle on the divergent side. Likewise, if you're an art teacher, you might struggle with the convergent side. So take a look at your class and see if you need to sprinkle in a little more divergent or convergent thinking into the mix.

Does your class include both divergent and convergent thinking? How could you incorporate the other side more? Do you think schools do a good job at testing both or lean to one side?

Tori Pakizer is the Social Media Editor at SimpleK12.com. She writes regularly about the use of educational technology in K-12 classrooms, and specializes in how teachers use Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and other social media. You can follow Tori and SimpleK12 on Twitter @SimpleK12. If you have ideas for using social media in schools, please send your information or tip to editor@simplek12.com.

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