divergent thinking

What’s this?

A trolley loaded with luggage? Nope.

This is a giant cake! With chocolate,  strawberry, and blueberry icing.

One of my favourite scenes from the Hindi movie Jaanu Tu ya Jaane Na is when Meghna asks these kind of questions to Imran Khan. They play this game called… “What’s this?”  It’s where you look at something ordinary and you try explain it in a exciting way. It’s a pretty decent game if you ask me.

Ken Robinson gave a talk recently at the Art of Marketing here in Calgary where he mentioned this concept  – divergent thinking. Divergent thinking is the ability to come up with lots of possible answers or interpretations to a question.  He showed statistics indicating we lose this ability at a rapid rate as we get older and get more educated. An education system that emphasizes linear thinking, multiple choice testing – where you have to converge on one answer to get the correct answer. That’s fine, but what happens if a student doesn’t learn that way?  What about having some wit? Scoring 190 on an IQ test isn’t the only barometer for intelligence. What if your talents lay elsewhere? How do you nurture that?

It’s those who improvise, live in randomness, are ready for whats thrown at them. They can make connections that others can’t see. Paul McCartney had it right:

I use to think anyone doing anything weird was weird. Now I know that it is the people that call others weird that are weird.

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