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Education - Children's and young adult's literature

Characteristics of the divergent thinker

Cognitive Characteristics:

1. Metaphoical thinking, or the ability to find parallels between dissimilar ideas

2. Flexibility and skill in decision-making, or the ability to look at a situation from different points of view

3. Independence in judgment and the ability to be mindful of the consequences of such judgments on individuals and society

4. Coping well with novelty

5. Logical thinking skills

6. Ability to visualize what is unseen

7. Ability to escape entrenchment and consider things in new ways

8. Finding order in chaos.


Personality Characteristics:

1. Willingness to take risks, that is, express a different opinion or try out an idea that might fail

2. Perseverance, drive and commitment to a task

3. Curiosity

4. Openness to experience and receptiveness to the complex input of the senses

5. Tolerance for ambiguity

6. Broad interests

7. Value of originality

8. Intuition and deep emotions

9. Being internally occupied or withdrawn.


--from Creativity and Children's Literature: new ways to encourage divergent thinking by Marianne Saccardi, 2014, p. xvi

but based on work from Alane Starko, Creativity in the Classroom, 2010.

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The vision of Inspiring Education is transformational. All students are inspired to achieve success and fulfillment as engaged thinkers and ethical citizens with an entrepreneurial spirit. (p.10)


Competencies adapted from Inspiring Education 

Critical Thinking: involves using reasoning and criteria to conceptualize, evaluate, or synthesize ideas. Students reflect on their thinking to improve it. They challenge assumptions behind thoughts and beliefs or actions. Students value honesty, fairness and open-mindedness.

Problem Solving: involves selecting strategies and resources to move from what is known to what is sought. Students analyze situations, create plans of action and implement solutions. They evaluate alternatives and their consequences. Students approach challenges with creativity, flexibility and determination.

Managing Information: involves organizing and using information for specific purposes. Students access, interpret, evaluate and share information from a variety of digital and non-digital sources. They are ethical and effective in how they use and share information. Students value reliability, validity and integrity of information.

Creativity and Innovation: involves generating and applying ideas to create something of value. Students recognize opportunities to apply ideas in new ways. they are open to and paly with ideas, take  risks and adapt to changing conditions. Students demonstrate optimism, initiative and ingenuity.

Communication: involves sharing ideas through oral, written or non-verbal media. Students engage informal and informal exchanges with others. They consider how culture, context and experience impact messaging. Students demonstrate respect, empathy and responsibility when communicating with others.

Collaboration: involves working with others to achieve a common goal. Students participate, exchange ideas and share responsibilities. They respect competing views and nurture positive relationships. Students are adaptable, willing to compromise and value the contributions of others.

Cultural and Global Citizenship: involves actively engaging with cultural, environmental, political or economic systems. Students acknowledge First Nations, Metis, Inuit, Francophone or other perspectives when taking action on local or global issues. they advocate for the dignity and well-being of individuals and communities.  Students value equity and diversity and believe in their capacity to make a difference.

Personal Growth and Well-being: involves managing emotional, intellectual, physical, social and spiritual aspects of living.  Students set learning, career or wellness goals and work toward them. They draw upon their strengths to develop interests, skills and talents. Students are reflective, resourceful and optimistic and they strive for personal excellence.

from: The Guiding Framework for the Design and Development of Kindergarten to Grade 12 Provincial Curriculum. Alberta Government, 2016. App. B.


FROM: Tom Baines School website for students when defining themselves as learners.

Please look at the questions below and try to use them to help you reflect about yourself as a learner. If you are stuck you can simply answer each question. You can be as creative as you would like with your reflection (web, essay, diagram, video, audio recording, etc)

    1. How do I learn best?
      1. Eg. (listening to information, working with others, studying at home, getting to be hands on, getting extra help)
    2. How can I use this information to create conditions that will allow me to be more successful?
      1. Eg. (record my teacher talking so I can review it, ask to work in groups, set out time at home to study, build/create models for my projects, ask my teachers to help me after school)
    3. What are my strengths and what are my areas for growth (weaknesses)?
      1. Eg. (good at reading, make friends easily, can fix most items that are broken;  
    4. What are the things that impact my learning and why?
      1. Eg. (Noise level because I get distracted easily, how close I am to the front of the class because I have bad eye sight and need glasses, if I am tired because I can’t focus)
    5. What structures/things do I need in order to learn best?
      1. Eg. (Seating plan, assignments broken into smaller pieces, quieter spot to work)
    6. What kinds of things am I involved in outside of school that impact my engagement in my learning?
      1. Eg. (karate because I am taught discipline and focus, my job because I work at night and go to school tired, music lessons because I am really interested in music, volunteering because I enjoy learning about how to help others)
    7. What kind of leadership/extra-curricular experiences have I been involved in and how have these impacted/informed my understanding of myself as a learner?
      1. Eg. (wilderness camp because I learned that I am good at things I wasn’t aware of before and that I work better by myself, being the captain of my water polo team because I like being in charge and working towards a common goal (group work))
    8. How do I think other people see me or think about me?
      1. Eg. (helpful, funny, aggressive, slacker, smart)
    9. How have I been recognized?
      1. Eg. (my teacher shared my poem with the class as an example of a metaphor, I won an award for top Industrial Arts student, I was asked to speak to a younger class about junior high, my parents told me they are proud of me)
    10. What does success look like for me and how will I know if I have been successful?
      1. Eg. (getting a good mark on my science test after studying, 
    11. How will I communicate this to my teachers/advocates and do I need help with this?

Here a few of the are many attributes for a divergent thinker:

*creative, *innovative, *problem solving and problem finding, *courageous, *curious, *tolerance for ambiguity,*wide range of interests, *original thinker, *flexible, *metaphorical, cope with novelty, *likes to be puzzled, *imaginative, *sees things with wonderment, *tolerant of risk,, *philosophical, critical thinking, *resilient. 

-- when considering a book:

*playful language and imagery, *puzzling, *mysterious, *new approach to storytelling, *original or imaginative stories, *topic is of interest and offers new information, *presents opportunities of discussion, predicting, modeling, *poses questions,* might be ambiguous, *intriguing, *models divergent thinking behaviours.