Edward De Bono’s Six Thinking Hats was originally designed as an effective (both critical and creative) thinking exercise for management programs but has since been applied in a variety of business and educational contexts.
By adopting a role symbolised by a particular coloured hat discussion of a subject can be structured in a way that encourages participants to experiment, in a purposeful manner, with different modes of thought.
The roles are defined as follows:
There are numerous ways this can be used in the classroom.
1. You can set up a discussion topic in a similar way to a Literature Circle or an ARC and have each student ‘wear’ a different hat.
2. You can ask a whole class to wear one particular hat when thinking about a topic, and possibly swap to a different hat at some point.
3. You can ask students to think about their contributions and decide which ‘hat’ they naturally tend to wear, challenging them to try other hats in future.
4. You can ask students to identify the hat the creator of a text is wearing.
One of the major benefits of using these ‘hats’ is that students can respond in ways that are perhaps new to them and make contributions that are not necessarily what they personally believe, this can give them confidence. However, given this, it may be a good idea to debrief after an activity in which you’ve assigned different hats and allow students to reflect on the process and offer their own ideas if they’d like to.
Use them in discussion, in talking about a text (reading or listening), in planning a piece of writing.