Are the hats really old hat?

sixhatsI’ve now spent way too many days thinking about this – I guess in hindsight, now that I begin to write this article, I should’ve used the hats – just came to me then!

WHITE: Edward de Bono first published his book on the Six Thinking Hats way back in 1985. When he first designed them de Bono had no idea how widespread and rapid the phenomenon would be. De Bono is credited with coining the phrase ‘lateral thinking’.

There are a number of bloggers having a great old time debating the issue of the validity of the hats. There are also bloggers who support them. These articles are very entertaining – in fact they kept me up half the night reading them, along with the barrage of comments they received from others.

RED: I feel that these hats have had quite a pounding from people over the years. Seems to me that we always feel the need to correct, make it better or dismiss it right away based on other’s experience. We tend not to nut it out properly and if it doesn’t work the first time well it’s not worth it. Actually I think after all this that I much prefer the way I use the hats –
regardless of how they were intended. I know! Imagine being different. At first when I realised that it wasn’t exactly how de Bono intended them to be used I thought, hey they are a tool that I could use my way to enhance the learning of my students and by the way – I’ve also used them with adults AND will continue to use them for my own selfish reasons. There I’ve said it!

I agree with  bt0558‘s  comment; “I have no problem with any teacher choosing not to use a technique/strategy as they aren’t convinced, however to suggest that there is no value in a technique and that a technique is silly is to cast doubt on their judgement and their professionalism in my view.”

YELLOW:The hats have certainly enhanced my students’ thinking  – yes there would probably have been some other strategy that would have done the same but we use the hats and they work. One of the rules I have using the hats is that when under the hat, regardless of what colour, you have total immunity in what you say and think. It is an opportunity for the student or adult to express what it is they wish to say whilst under a hat – and no you don’t have to wear it!!!. I find it most useful to use the hats as a way to evaluate a class, a theory, a professional learning experience. My youngest daughter used them to complete a book review many years ago. It was such an interesting approach; she was so excited about the process and eventual learning that came from it that I have always remembered it. 

BLACK: This is the most essential hat in that t keeps everyone on their toes. This is where the devils’ advocate resides and they are the ones who keep everyone else honest.

GREEN: As I commented earlier – I tend to use the hats in a number of different ways. I have an old fashioned laminated version of six different hats that I like to have on me for all classes and professional development sessions. I put them on the floor and have participants move to the hat under which they would like to comment. Each then gets an opportunity to speak without interruption on the topic or activity at hand. It’s a really good process as almost everyone will speak even the shy ones because they have immunity! I once ran a PD session with teachers who sat in groups around six tables. Each table had a different coloured hat and participants could only respond/think/discuss using the hat on their particular table. In other words, those on the yellow hat table could only respond positively, those on the white could only offer facts etc…etc.. I’ll tell you it was quite a difficult task.

RED: How I do feel now that I have had a chance to air my view on the hats? I feel great! The question is…how do you feel about the hats? Does it matter that they have been around a while? Have you used them successfully? Share your experiences with us. Have you had any not so successful experiences? These reflections are just as valid and assist us in reviewing and revising. Feel free to share these too!

BLUE: I have always maintained that if a strategy works for you then use it. Keep in mind that some strategies work in some class but not in others so be prepared to review and revise so as to fit in with your groups’ needs. 

doing-it-wrong“Always listen to experts. They’ll tell you what can’t be done, and why. Then do it.”― Robert A. Heinlein

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2 thoughts on “Are the hats really old hat?

  1. Yes I use the Six Thinking Hats with young children and it encourages them to become more exploratory in their thinking, less inclined to argue and less inclined to take themselves too seriously.

    I’m happy to see that you’ve found success with it also.

    • Thanks Phil,
      Yes, they may be an old idea but that doesn’t mean we should dismiss them altogether. It’s fun to use them every now and again.

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