Thinking Hats

Thinking Hats

This week I’ve begun introducing de Bono’s Six Thinking Hats into my teaching. It’s something I’ve not attempted before. I’ve been quite wary about them since my initial teacher training in which they were introduced as a means of grouping different types of learners during lessons in large classes (I think the lecturers had misunderstood the concept and the “Learning Styles”-fad was in its infancy).

thinking-hats-2I’m approaching the Thinking Hats with an open mind (and fully aware of  criticism of them) as a means of encouraging collaborative, creative thinking skills with my students. The “Hats” themselves are essentially metaphors for different forms of looking and thinking at a situation or issue:

  • white: “The facts” hat – information known or needed, enables gaps in knowledge to be identified
  • red: “The feelings” hat – feelings and intuition, the “gut instinct”
  • black: “The difficulties” hat – the Devil’s advocate
  • green: “The possibilities” hat – creativity: alternatives, possibilities, new ideas (“What if…?”, “Why not try…?”)
  • yellow: “The positives” hat – benefits, values, why things will work
  • blue: the “Thinking about Thinking” hat – I’m going to use this hat as a metacognitive tool.

I’ve introduced my guinea-pig class, 8Y2 to all the hats, explaining what roles they play and ran a rapid task involving groups using the hats to think about the character of Francis Cassavant in the novel Heroes. I’ve put a display of the hats at the front of the room. The task worked well as an introduction to Thinking Hats.

Next, I’m going to re-introduce the hats one at a time over the next term (before Christmas). For example, next week when we read Chapters 5-8 of Heroes, I’m focusing on the Red Hat so that students can explore their own emotional reactions to events in the novel as well as (which I guess would involve the Blue Hat) consider the “Red” responses of the characters themselves. I’m also going to buy some coloured hats to see if they work as props in the lessons. At the end of the term I’ll review and see what I think.