MichaelEmeryArt

Divergent Thinking

In 2010, her study “the Creativity Crisis (Kim, 2011)," featured in Newsweek, opened a national and international dialogue on the importance of creativity in education and all areas of life. (Her study was the subject of one of the 2014 AP English Language and Composition Exam Questions.) It showed the United States has experienced a decline in creativity since 1990.

Dr. Kyung Hee Kim One of Kim's major research emphases within the study of creativity is that of divergent thinking, which has been beautifully and dramatically demonstrated through her unique life story. Her lecture focused on her newly developed creativity theory and the importance of fostering creativity.  Creativity and lack thereof are key elements to the telling of Kim's story.

Kim says successful creativity requires a creative climate, a creative attitude, and creative thinking.  Creative climate is the physical and psychological support for fostering ideas. Creative attitude is centered on open-mindedness and openness to the novelty of new ideas.  Creative thinking is a mixture of convergent and divergent thinking, which are narrow and broad scope thought processes, respectively. A healthy combination of convergent and divergent thinking creates a mental database conducive to creative thought and the development of new, thoughtful ideas and processes.

Despite entering graduate school at the University of Georgia and thinking of herself as "disabled" because her Korean cultural standards prohibited speaking in class, Kim thrived off of the attention shown to her by her mentor, Dr. Bonnie Cramond. Dr. Cramond brought out Kim's creativity by encouraging her to voice her thoughts and ideas, and by allowing her the freedom to make mistakes and errors. Kim explains that this was fostering Kim's creative attitude through the creative climate in Dr. Cramond's classroom.  Dr. Hébert further assisted Kim in job interview preparations by changing Kim's modesty and self-effacement, which is valued in Kim's own Asian culture, into self-confidence at her job interviews. Eventually Kim was appointed as an assistant professor at Eastern Michigan University in 2005.

Currently, Dr. Kim is an Associate Professor at The College of William and Mary.  She earned her tenure last year. She laughs at the widely held misconception among international students, that William and Mary is a community college.  "In fact," she says. "The College is ranked as the fifth best public university in the nation."

Kim's poise, generosity, scholarship, and overwhelming kindness have transformed every situation with which she comes in contact. At the conclusion of her lecture, she announced to the enrapt audience that she has elected to donate the entirety of her speaker's fees to the Torrance Center and to the work of her greatest mentor, Dr. Bonnie Cramond. Kim's personality, scholarship, sincere devotion to students, and furthering the knowledge of the field of creativity allows so many to consider her a modern day E. Paul Torrance, carrying the legacy of creativity research to the ends of the earth.

Those Masters have:

“We shouldn't let our envy of distinguished masters of the arts distract us from the wonder of how each of us gets new ideas. Perhaps we hold on to our superstitions about creativity in order to make our own deficiencies seem more excusable. For when we tell ourselves that masterful abilities are simply unexplainable, we're also comforting ourselves by saying that those superheroes come endowed with all the qualities we don't possess. Our failures are therefore no fault of our own, nor are those heroes' virtues to their credit, either. If it isn't learned, it isn't earned.
When we actually meet the heroes whom our culture views as great, we don't find any singular propensities––only combinations of ingredients quite common in themselves. Most of these heroes are intensely motivated, but so are many other people. They're usually very proficient in some field--but in itself we simply call this craftmanship or expertise. They often have enough self-confidence to stand up to the scorn of peers--but in itself, we might just call that stubbornness. They surely think of things in some novel ways, but so does everyone from time to time. And as for what we call "intelligence", my view is that each person who can speak coherently already has the better part of what our heroes have. Then what makes genius appear to stand apart, if we each have most of what it takes?
I suspect that genius needs one thing more: in order to accumulate outstanding qualities, one needs unusually effective ways to learn. It's not enough to learn a lot; one also has to manage what one learns. Those masters have, beneath the surface of their mastery, some special knacks of "higher-order" expertise, which help them organize and apply the things they learn. It is those hidden tricks of mental management that produce the systems that create those works of genius. Why do certain people learn so many more and better skills? These all-important differences could begin with early accidents. One child works out clever ways to arrange some blocks in rows and stacks; a second child plays at rearranging how it thinks. Everyone can praise the first child's castles and towers, but no one can see what the second child has done, and one may even get the false impression of a lack of industry. But if the second child persists in seeking better ways to learn, this can lead to silent growth in which some better ways to learn may lead to better ways to learn to learn. Then, later, we'll observe an awesome, qualitative change, with no apparent cause--and give to it some empty name like talent, aptitude, or gift.”- Marvin Minsky, The Society of Mind-