One of the assignments in the class I am teaching requires students to write a synthesis paper. The objective of this is to allow (force?!) students to reflect on the connections between the textbook, additional readings, class discussions and their personal experience. It is obvious that they need some practice in this skill!
Synthesis is where the magic happens.
It is taking information that is readily available to all and making new insights and observations. Synthesis is creating a more complete picture out of fragments and seeing relationships that may have otherwise been overlooked. Synthesis is, dare I say, connecting the dots, of disparate ideas into something original.
Think about how you can exercise your “synthesis muscle” on a regular basis. When you read a news item, consider how it relates to other stories you have read before, or tie the national news to the local level. Tie your experiences together and see if you can’t find additional meaning between the lessons you gain in church and what is happening at work, as an example. Maybe you can connect what you are doing in your volunteer work with something that relates to a vacation or your family.
With effective synthesis, one plus one really does equal three.