Dr. Edward de Bono- The Six Thinking Hats -Classes of mixed ability Dr. Edward de Bono, a psychologist and


Dr. Edward de Bono, a psychologist and medical doctor created the Six Thinking Hats (parallel thinking) method early in the 1980’s. He developed this thinking tool to solve the multitude of arguments happening in corporate meetings that he believed were time wasters. The Six Thinking Hats method is a framework for thinking. It requires participants, to extend their way of thinking about a topic by ´wearing` a range of different ´thinking` hats. However, his hats are not limited to the corporate sector. Much of de Bonos` work, including the Six Thinking Hats, is used in primary, middle, and high schools across the world as well.

Dr. de Bono explains parallel thinking in this example. There is a large and beautiful country house. One person is standing in front of the house. One person is standing behind the house. Two other people are standing on each side of the house. All four have a different view of the house. All four are arguing by intercom that the view each is seeing is the correct view of the house. Using parallel thinking, they all walk around and look at the front. Then they all walk around to the side, then the back and finally the remaining side. At each moment, each person is looking in parallel from the same point of view.

If they disagree, their views are noted down. Later if only one view can be chosen, a decision is made and if an agreement cannot be reached then the decision has to encompass all views.

De Bono decided that people needed direction labels for thinking so he designed the hats. It is important to remember when you use the six thinking hats that they are categories of thinking behaviour not people.

Each of The Six Thinking Hats has a colour, which describes the hat. The white hat thinking identifies the facts and details of a topic.

The black hat thinking examines the problems associated with a topic.

The yellow hat thinking focuses on the positive aspects of a topic.

The red hat thinking looks at a topic from the point of view of emotions and feelings.

The green hat thinking requires creativeness, imagination, and lateral thinking about a topic. The blue hat thinking focuses on reflection, metacognition (thinking about the thinking that is required), and the need to understand the big picture.

The more any mixed ability class uses the hats the more effective their thinking becomes. A negative opinion can be changed by simply asking the student to think using the yellow hat. Not all hats need to be used at the same time and all hats can be used at the same time if a quick exploration of a subject is required. The order does not matter and usually about four minutes is spent on each hat.

How can these hats be used in a class of mixed ability' From beginning ESL, to students whose native tongue is English and are above grade level in their academic work. Here is an example. No matter what age the students are, they will probably know the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. The teacher reads the story and uses the hats to organize the discussion. The beginning ESL group could wear the white hat and answer the questions who, what, why, when and where (the facts). The intermediate ESL group could wear the red hat and look at the point of view of the bears. How did they feel' Or compare Goldilockses feelings versus the bears, she did what she wanted and the bears felt violated (points of view). The remainder of the class would be divided up to focus on the yellow hat, did she learn her lesson, the green hat, what could she have done instead, the black hat, what was the problem with what she (Goldilocks) did' The groups would present their points of view and then finally the whole class could wear the blue hat and have a short discussion on what have they learnt by using the hats to discuss Goldilocks.

Current events are also an excellent topic for using the hats.