Monday, November 5, 2018

Divergent thinking

Recently, I offered a workshop about children’s literature with a focus on divergent thinking. We looked at how children’s literature can encourage readers to be divergent thinkers as well as model divergent thinking. This can be embodied by the characters in the book or the book itself might be designed in some creative way or tell a story with some element of originality.

I did base some of my workshop on the book by Marianne Saccardi, Creativity and Children’s Literature: new ways to encourage divergent thinking (2014).  Click HERE to read my blog reviewing this book from a couple of years ago.  This was the first time I had run this workshop.

I did modify the workshop a little by introducing some of the thinking behind the new Alberta Education curriculum that is currently being rolled out over the next couple of years.  There is a set of 8 competencies that will span the K-12 curriculum in which I saw components of divergent thinking. These included critical thinking, problem solving, managing information, creativity and innovation, communication, collaboration, cultural and global citizenship and personal growth and well-being. If you’re keen to read more about the new curriculum or the competencies please take a look at The Guiding Framework for the Design and Development of Kindergarten to Grade 12 Provincial Curriculum (Programs of Study) by Alberta Education, 2017.

One of my main objectives in this workshop is getting books into the hands of students. A significant amount of time is given to ‘playing’ with the books (book spine poetry exercise) and then reading books with an eye to evaluating books for embodying some attribute of divergent thinking. I collect their evaluations and will be posting their recommendations on the Doucette Library’s Pinterest page. I’ll create a board specific to this workshop so that students can revisit some of the titles that were featured.

Here are a few student-teacher recommendations:

The Water Walker by Joanne Robertson : divergent thinking attributes include problem solving and taking risks

I’m Coming to Get You by Tony Ross : divergent thinking attributes include being imaginative and a metaphor (“for the destructive nature of people”)

Why Am I Here? by Constance Orbeck-Nilsson : divergent thinking attributes include promoting wondering, problem solving and being philosophical (“starts to create empathy and thinking about things through the perspective of someone else. Subtly brings up the topic of immigration. Love!”)

Who Says Women Can’t be Doctors? By Tanya Lee Stone : divergent thinking attributes include taking risks and promotes original thinking (“Very inspirational story…Good non-fiction information presented in an interesting way that is appropriate for various age groups.”)

There by Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick : divergent thinking attributes includes being philosophical, ambiguous and promoting problem finding (“Bigger philosophical question about life/meaning of life.  Can be universally applied to anyone with an imaginative twist.”)


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