Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Losing the innate ability of divergent thinking.

There is the famous TED talk done by Ken Robinson, where a group is given the task of thinking up ways a simple object can be used, and the group comes up with many possibilities. A similar example is called the candle and the box. A candle is placed on a table with a box. One is required to figure out how to get that candle on the wall without the wax dripping all over the floor when lit. Many would rub their heads and see only a box and a candle, others would see the box, the tacks holding the box in form and the candle, and take out the tacks, un-fold the box, reshape it, use the tacks to hold and tack a shape onto the wall that would hold the candle and catch the wax. Some call this divergent thinking, some might call this critical thinking skills.
The group that excelled at divergent thinking were Kindergartners. The majority of this group were, as far as divergent thinking, geniuses.
But, this ability was lost by the time these children were in the third grade. 
There are other studies where workers are given tasks to do. When a measure of cognitive skill is needed and a reward given for completing the task, do not do the job as well as when they do the cognition for the joy of figuring out the task.  This shows that the placement of a positive reinforcement diverts full direct  focus and limits cognitive skill. It is the carrot and the stick placed, as a gain, that motivates yet limits at the same time.  And to note, on another front, this suggests that humans innately enjoy solving problems, but when placed in survival do-or-die/win-lose situations their natural  ability to use  divergent thinking becomes limited. 
In studies of child performance, children that come from lower economic levels, tend to have a smaller vocabulary and more negative reprimand impulsed, because  a lack of vocabulary creates a lack of clarity of description of form and purpose, thus more frustrated behaviors, which is the inner map unequal to the other physical world.This is limitation to form and function and as such vocabulary/structure and instead accumulation of values as good and bad that inhibit the child. From such a state how can a child process knowledge and information presented as words in school, and how can a teacher process and correct what parents built as a cognitive map that model  limitations. And is it the responsibility of a teacher to correct what is essentially a lack of self responsibility? Obviously, a teacher cannot do this, no one alone can do this, it is the parents and the teachers and the community that as all one, paying attention and being responsible, that does this.
In both instances impulsed values inhibit/suppress that innate divergent thinking skill of a human because they distract attention. Impulsed accumulation of negative reinforcements from lack, and/or positive reinforcements as motivation divide a child from a natural common sense. Both become the cognizance within, slowing down divergent thinking, because the child is caught up in impulsed values as a cognitive map instead of direct seeing. And if we think about our class structures, this varies by degree, and yet it shows the division of men through suppression via punishment and reward instead of common sense understanding of practical reality.
What if a child could retain that divergent thinking skill and build a strong and varied vocabulary? And what if that vocabulary were of clear, absolute meanings? Would the foundation of the child be a cognitive map that was clear, able to process knowledge and information unfettered by limiting values?
Would this carry that innate human ability of divergent thinking up into the third grade and beyond? Would this create stable children that had what it takes to be a success in this world and as this members of the community that because they were stable and able to think critically possibly create a body of humans that lived the full potential of the human as a group? Would this not create self directive, self responsible human beings?

No comments :

Post a Comment