1. Divergent thinking is an exciting way to develop students’ creativity! It begins as early as the problem finding phase, when the task in focus is explored and defined, and continues until students run out of ideas or lose engagement.
Tip: ideas which appear late in the task are more remote, and therefore more likely to be original.
Begin the lesson with students’ analysing the stimulus (e.g. parts of a shoe). Next, ask students to select one of the components of the stimulus for further exploration in another category (e.g. parts of a shoe that could be used for another purpose or in another context). Gilhooly et al (2007) suggests that this process of memory retrieval, flexible switching between diverse categories, and the ability to combine ideas at the end of the cognitive task, are the fundamental processes found in creative ideation.
2. Teach students a rhythm pattern in music, then ask them to improvise and compose their own. Here are some easy to follow steps to implement this in your classroom:
- Students’ copy teacher marching to the beat.
- Teacher sings a chant while clapping the rhythm of the words. Students accompany the teacher by stomping the beat (continued from step 1).
Marching, marching to the beat.
Everybody join me walking down the street.
- Break the rhythm pattern into smaller chunks to help students remember and learn the pattern correctly.
- Teacher says “echo”, then claps the first line of the chant, students’ echo. Next, teacher claps the second line of the chant, students’ echo. Finally, teacher performs the entire chant and students’ echo.
- Class claps the rhythm of the words together while internalising the lyrics of the chant (i.e. don’t sing the words out loud).
- Ask students to improvise their own rhythm pattern. Inform students that their rhythms must be the same length as the one you taught them in step 2.
- In pairs, ask students to teach their original rhythm pattern to their partner. Next, pairs combine their rhythm patterns together to produce a longer work.
3. Finding ways to incorporate and integrate the arts into other subject areas is a powerful way to implement creative thinking tasks in your everyday classroom. As stated by Haylock (1987), creativity in maths comprises the ability to see new relationships between techniques, areas of application, and the ability to make associations between possibly unrelated concepts. Finding suitable links between diverse learning areas is one of the first steps in any successful arts integrated learning environment. “Symmetry” for example, has applications for both Math and the Visual Arts. Mathematicians define symmetry of objects by their invariance under a group of transformations, while symmetry in nature is considered the secret(e) of beauty. Students can develop their understanding of the topic through the creative process of designing and discussing symmetrical patterns expressed in their artworks.
4. Encourage students to take risks and accept mistakes as a natural part of the creative process. As Sir Ken Robinson said, “If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original.”
Gilhooly, K. J., Fioratu, E., Anthony, S. H., & Wynn, V. (2007). Divergent thinking: Strategies and executive involvement in generating novel uses for familiar objects. British Journal of Psychology, 98, 611–625. doi:10.1348/096317907X173421
Heylock, D.W. (1987). A framework for assessing mathematical creativity in school children. Educational Studies in Mathematics, pp.59-74.
van de Kamp, M. T., Admiraal, W., van Drie, J., & Rijlaarsdam, G. (2015). Enhancing divergent thinking in visual arts education: Effects of explicit instruction of meta-cognition. Br J Educ Psychol, 85(1), 47-58. doi:10.1111/bjep.12061