September 21, 2006

Operacy: required skills: De Bono

Img_2643 Students nowadays need numeracy, literacy but they also require operacy. Operacy is kind of what it says on the tin. And it needs taught explicitly. Teaching thinking directly has improved performance by 30-70% according to the Atkey studies. The New Deal increased employment by 500% by teaching thinking skills. Even when students were taught less science, but taught more thinking skills, they still did better in examinations than those who just got traditional knowledge. Most of the stories De Bono is giving are all about giving students more self motivation.

In business, too. Statoil had a 100,000 dollar problem which was solved in 12 minutes having been taught thinking skills.

Using parallel thinking ABB reduced their project meeting days from 30 to 2.

These thinking skills are often based around the six hats idea. There's a full explanation of six hats over here. It sounds very close to the kind of thinking we are encouraged to do already in East Lothian. I don't know if that gets through to our classrooms all the time, though. (Time, of course, being a factor in people not having the time to think about thinking... my goodness, we might have some work to do ;-)

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Interestingly we had an Assessment is for Learning In Service day at Dunbar Grammar School last year led by Paul Raffaelli, the head teacher. Paul used De Bono’s six hats idea to help us talk over the issues of assessment. I thought it went quite well and certainly stimulated discussion.

It's interesting that you should pick that up. I've been using De Bono's work for the last ten years - I'm particularly attracted by the six thinking hats - it can have a transformational effect upon children.

I was disappointed with de Bono. He had nothing new to say - both CORT and the 6 Hat methodology have been used in schools for a while. His presentational style was unenthusiastic and cold and he spent much of his time telling us of the important organisations which use his methods and, therefore, how important he is. Not what I expected at all. He fared badly compared to the previous speaker I saw - Brian Boyd - who presented his ideas in a provocative and interesting manner. I know who I'd rather have a drink with.

Just from reading this post and the links therein has piqued my interest to learn more...even though it may be old hat (sorry). I remember doing a six thinking hat exercise on one of my VSO training programmes to encourage us to look at the role of volunteers through different eyes. I have never thought about using it in school. I had actually completely forgotten about it. Now I need to learn more...if I can find the time.
I'm interested in this transformartional effect on children as mentioned by Ollie Bray.

For me De Bono was great because I didn't know about these techniques - well, not all of them. I found his presentation a little rushed, as did some teachers and policy workers I met on the train on the way home. But his ideas were practical if the teacher could make that link and, if Peacock's trust in teachers' professionalism is genuine, then I'd hope that link wasn't too tricky to make.

Andybody tell me more about Operacy? How does it work? How is it structured to effect change? What does it have to do with Experiential Education or Neuro-Linguistic Programming?
Thanks to send your answers to my email address: ssithen_dmi@yahoo.com.

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Ewan McIntosh is the founder of NoTosh, the no-nonsense company that makes accessible the creative process required to innovate: to find meaningful problems and solve them.

Ewan wrote How To Come Up With Great Ideas and Actually Make Them Happen, a manual that does what is says for education leaders, innovators and people who want to be both.

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