Resource: The Saskatchewan Professional Development Unit and Saskatchewan Instruction Development and Research Unit. (1991). Planning Adventures: Synectics, Instructional Strategies Series No. 4. Retrieved from: http://www.spiritsd.ca/curr_content/onlineteach/instructionalstrategies/experientiallearning/synectics.htm
Synectics is an instructional strategy that uses metaphor and analogy to stimulate diverse and creative thinking to deepen the understanding of concepts.
Synectics is a problem solving method that involves the creative thinking of a group of people from different areas of experience and knowledge. What is unique about synectics is that it employs the use of metaphor and analogy to spark creativity.
Using synectics in the classroom may be done by working through the following steps:
1. Establish an understanding of a word or topic through the use of a dictionary or other reference. Alternately, if the word or topic is well understood, have the students briefly describe it individually through writing or through discussion in small groups.
2. Ask the students to brainstorm direct analogies. In this step, the word or topic being examined is compared to something totally unrelated. For example, if the word in Step #1 was ‘cat’, ask: “In what ways is a cat like a tornado?”
3. Have the students work with a direct analogy to create a personal analogy. The student should ‘become’ the cat and describe how they would feel as the cat.
4. To explore contrast, ask the students to identify differences: “How is a cat different than a tornado?”
5. Create a new analogy by asking the students, “How are the cat and the tornado like an ocean?”
6. Return to the original word or topic so that the students may use the ideas produced to create their new product (a poem, a paragraph, etc.).
- Stimulates diverse and critical thinking
- Creates lots of class discussion and thinking before, during and after the lesson
- Appropriate for any age and grade level
- Vocabulary of the model may inhibit students. Terms like synectics, metaphor, analogy and compressed conflict may be imposing at any grade level.
- Process may be difficult to explain to the students
- Teacher may not know the best way to explain the process
- The number of steps required to conclude the exercises and may intimidate the teacher and the students
Physical Education/Health/Social Studies Perspective: While at the present moment I am having a difficult time trying to think of how to use synectics in any of my subject areas (I believe it’s best use would be in an English or a Creative Writing Class), I do believe synectics can help students learn better because it will stimulate creative thinking. Through the use of metaphors and analogies, students can make connections to their own experiences and knowledge which I believe will help to motivate the students learning.