Fostering creative thinking

With twenty four hour access to technology young people are flooded with information. This can have a positive impact on their knowledge of current affairs and the world around them, however training young people to think critically is even more crucial. In order to take advantage of the positives of social media, young people must be able to ask critical question about the source and purpose of the information they watch, read and listen to.

Critical thinking must be explicitly taught

There are many styles to teach critical thinking skills. Holding class debates and discussions, prompting pupils to ask questions in class, and using resources that engage pupils can all lead to critical thinking. As an English teacher, thinking creatively is needed every lesson.This often means I often have the luxury of incorporating newsworthy articles and topical videos into lessons to use as stimulus. It is not as simple as engaging pupils with the resources. Pupils need a vocabulary to respond.

Edward de Bono’s Thinking Hats

Teaching pupils how to use the Thinking Hats in my lesson have changed the way pupils respond to information. They can often be used as an introduction into a topic or lesson, this then can often lead to high level analytical writing. The Thinking Hats can be introduced as part of a whole lesson; pupils can speculate the meaning of each hat colour and discuss why each hat is needed. Pupils can then practice using the different coloured hats in response to a text or a question. Personally, I introduce the hats in short bursts and over the course of two weeks pupils understand the meaning of the hats. Having a display for the hats and prompt questions for each colour can develop pupils’ responses to a text. It is important to have a physical hat for each colour, it makes the process more tangible and pupils find it much more enjoyable.

What would a lesson look like?

Starter: Play a topical video as pupils enter. For example, I am currently teaching Macbeth so I may play a video of the Military Wives singing or perhaps a soldier’s account of war. I would then ask pupils if they wish to use the red hat and express their feelings. I would always give choice because some pupils may feel uncomfortable sharing their personal view. After listening to some initial reactions to the resource I would introduce some different coloured hats. We would spend some time discussing the different viewpoints the hats may highlight.

Activities: The main activity of the lesson may then be using the different colours to formulate a response. Or perhaps they could use them to imagine they are a character and represent all different emotions and views. The task could lead to an evaluation of a resource, for example the teacher could create a worksheet with the different coloured hats outlined and pupils could respond to different viewpoints.

Plenary: To complete a lesson pupils could present their multi-sided arguments, pupils could evaluate their responses, pupils could look at another video or text and evaluate or comment on it without the hats.

Other thinking routines

If you are interested in researching other thinking routines some great ones are:
Thinking Dice
Jim Smith’s The Lazy Teacher
Chalk Talk
Talk for Writing

We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.

Albert Einstein