13. Divergent and Creative Thinking (K-12)
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There are many questions that can help students to "think laterally" (deBono) or "get out of the box." This ability to extend beyond the obvious and the time-worn is an essential ingredient in effective roblem-solving because it helps to generate the unusual and imaginative solutions we associate with the skill of synthesis, the rearranging, modifying and combining of elements in novel ways to achieve desired and often startling results.
is one set of questioning strategies that works well.
Students can be taught to ask how to change an existing product, item or idea by asking how to Substitute, Combine, Add, (Modify, Magnify, Minify), Put to other uses, Eliminate, and Reverse (Eberle, 1972). SCAMPER tools are used on answers that we already have to questions, when we need a detour in our thinking to see something in a new way. It requires the suspension of judgment and a playful attitude. Many of the ideas will not lead anywhere, but they may add up to be more than the sum of their parts.
To use SCAMPER tools, take the answer to a question such as, "Thoreau wrote Walden" and ask the questions:
S "Who else could have written it?'
C "If Thoreau had had a co-author, who could it have been?"
A "What would Thoreau have written in the 21st century?"
M "What could we modify in the work to intensify the theme?"
P "How does this work apply to the lives of suburbanites?'
E "What would be the effect of eliminating this work?"
R "What would be the antithesis of Thoreau's view?"
One of the benefits of using the SCAMPER tools with students asking the questions is that they both ask and answer the questions. The questions, though often very divergent, require a thorough going knowledge of the required content. Evaluation of student thinking and competency in the subject matter are accomplished through an analysis of the coherence of the question asked, answer given, and next questions posed.