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Randi Randall
Stefan Britt
30 April 2014
The Divergent Path to Educational Transformation
What enables the world to progress? Could it be knowledge and ones thirst for it? Or
perhaps creativity and ones desire to indulge in innovation. What about both? If one thinks
about it they might see that if we only had knowledge and lacked creativity we would only be
filled with information. There would be no new ideas to enable society to advance. If members
of society lacked knowledge and only held creativity in their minds then we would have infinite
ideas but no way to make them a reality. Society best functions when knowledge and creativity
coincide with one another. However, many educators only see the need to fill students with
knowledge rather then have them think for themselves and transform into divergent thinkers.
Divergent thinking is the ability to interpret a question in multiple ways and see several
outcomes. Divergent thinking is an essential component in order to produce creativity. If
educators are only teaching students that there is only one right answer or path then they are
slowing euthanizing creativity. In order for society to evolve instructors should be encouraging
students to become divergent thinkers in the classroom; in the real world there are multiple
strategies and answers, not just one.
It seems that today education is becoming less meaningful to many students. Its less
meaningful because of how they are being taught. They are being told that there is only one way
to do something and only one right answer. They are being given knowledge and are expected to
absorb it when it has no significance to them. In Paulo Freires article The Banking Concept of
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Education he states Education thus becomes an act of depositing, in which the students are the
depositories and the teacher is the depositor (240). What this means is that student are only
being required to absorb information rather than participating in their learning. Without
participation there is a lack of creativity. Without creativity our individuals would become the
stagnant water at the edge of a river bank, there wouldnt be any new ideas to encourage the flow
of society.
The educational technique of depositing information into students has the ability to strip
them of creativity and transformation. Thus, taking away the ability for individuals to think for
themselves and induce change; something that is needed for our species to continue. Disposing
the system of divergent thinking is something that is being done in the depths of the classroom.
The antagonist behind this is some educators whom incapacitate students abilities to think.
Barry Alford, a professor at Mid-Michigan Community College articulates we are constantly
confronted with evidence that the rhetorical choices we teach our students to use do not
necessarily encourage them to think (280). Without reinforcement to think for ones self their
sense of judgment and individuality are taken from them. Many students are only learning to
replicate their instructors notions rather than discovering what their ideals are as an individual.
Countless educators today are using anesthetic means of teaching students. They are
asphyxiating a students drive to think various ways. What this is doing is inhibiting students
divergent thinking abilities. Sir Ken Robinson in his presentation Changing the Paradigms of
Education states the arts especially address the idea of aesthetic experience, aesthetic
experience is one in which all senses are operating at their peak and when you are present in the
current moment. When students are existent in the current moment learning can become
meaningful. They can start to learn and apply that knowledge to reality. The importance of being
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able to apply classroom knowledge to real world situations is unmeasurable. Learning in an
aesthetic setting were students can participate in their education cultivates divergent thinking,
thus leading to creative and unique individuals.
Many elementary students start out as creative and unique because they are taught in
settings where they are very much a part of the learning experience. The environment for
elementary classroom is meant to be hands-on so that it creates an enthusiastic learning setting.
There was study conducted by George Land and Beth Jarman where they tested kindergarteners
to measure their ability to think divergently. When given this test 98% of the children scored at a
genius level in divergent thinking. The same children were tested five years later and only 32%
of children scored in the genius level for divergent thinking. They then gave the test to the same
students another five years later and only 10% of students scored at the genius level for divergent
thinking. This trend shows that the further students progress through education their ability to
think in creative ways decrease. The reason for this could be the way they are being taught.
Students arent being involved enough and taking charge of their learning experience. So how do
we encourage students to become involved in the educational experience?
The teacher student relationships is perhaps the most vital component in a students
education. Paulo Freire articulates education must begin with the solution of the teacher-student
contradiction, by reconciling the poles of the contradiction so that both are simultaneously
teachers and students (241). This means that teachers and students should be learning together
instead of the teacher as being seen as a higher power. What this does is it can help students
become better thinkers and help mold their individuality because then the instructor isnt
thinking for their students. When an instructor becomes an equal in the classroom it allows for
conversation and brainstorming. These are both needed in order to produce divergent thinkers.
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When students become engaged in conversation with instructors and fellow classmates it
has a way of opening up students minds to new ideas and different ways of thinking. It aids them
to become conscious of others perspectives on matters and ask questions. According to Alford
we need to support a broader sense of literacy, one that engages students in a community of
speakers and listeners going about the messy business of thinking through a problem rather than
a community in which the problem is always solved (280). Allowing students to have the
chance of brainstorming with others can generate unique ideas and help individuals with problem
solving skills. Unique ideas and problem solving skills are attributes that we need our members
of society have in order to move towards a better future. Perhaps the way that we can progress is
to encourage students to not only think but think in a group as well.
Another teaching method that aids in encouraging divergent thinking is visual learning.
The benefit of visual learning is that students arent having information deposited into them; they
witness erudition rather than being told information to recite later. Teaching students visually as
well as including them in learning process can have a great advantage in there learning. In
Robinsons presentation he discusses how students benefit from visual learning more because
they are simply not bored. When they are not bored theyre in the present moment and their
senses are awake to new possibilities. Once an individuals senses are fully alive they are able to
perceive situations in ways that they may have not of been able to before. Thus, creating
divergent thinking individuals.
Divergent thinking is a characteristic that not only individual people can benefit from but
our society as a whole can benefit from. We need divergent thinkers in our society. In order to
encourage divergent thinking in students instructors need to inspire students to be creative
individuals in the classroom. Our society can become the object of transformation when the men
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and women in our society have the ability to solve problems and look at situations in multiple
ways rather than only being able to narrate information from an instructor. After all society has
not evolved to what it is today by material that individuals were filled with. Rather it seems to
have evolved by peoples capability to look at situations differently and transform what the
original outcome may have been. If we let creativity dissolve within our classrooms then
divergent thinkers will diminish as a consequence. Depriving the world of creativity and
divergent thinkers will force our society to become stationary. Students should be able to take the
reins of their own education and participate in teaching so that they are also learning for
themselves and how to cope with situations in creative and innovative ways. Couldnt this be the
revolutionary elucidation that the world needs to keep our societies from becoming that stagnant
water at the edge of the river bank?

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Works Cited
Alford, Barry. "Freirean Voices, Student Choices." Exploring Relationships: Globalization and
Learning in the 21st Century. Boston: Pearson, 2013. 279-81. Print.
Robinson, Ken, Sir. "RSA Animate - Changing Education Paradigms." YouTube. YouTube, 14
Oct. 2010. Web. 12 Apr. 2014.
Land, George, and Beth Jarman. Breaking Point and Beyond: Mastering the Future Today. N.p.:
Leadership 2000, 1998. Print.
Freire, Paulo. The Banking Concept of Education.Composing Knowledge: Readings for
College Writers. Ed. Rolf Norgaard. Boston: Bedford/St. Martins, 2007. 239-251. Print.