Saturday, December 3, 2016

I want to challenge that!

Today I spent the whole day at school putting into practice my learning about the 6 Thinking Hats.  As we are re-thinking structures at ASB, our task as volunteers was to come up with ideas to conserve and grow ASB's culture of innovation in the areas of personnel, systems and processes and non-human resources.  We started the day with an introduction to the Thinking Hats, and then went on to deepen our understanding of how these can work by considering challenges.  It's important to know that a challenge is never an attack or a criticism, but it's a challenge to something that seems perfect - to see if you can do it an another, different way.  A challenge is always based on what the existing situation is and it can challenge both what is going on and what you are thinking.  The key word for challenges is why: in fact we are challenging something that is not broken but just asking why it's the way it is.

When considering why, there are 3 approaches:
  • Alternatives - challenging uniqueness - asking "Is this the only way?"
  • Because - challenging the reasons and asking if they are valid
  • Cut - challenging the necessity and asking "Do we need to do this at all?"
When challenging traditional thinking we need to start with the C (do we need it?) and then move onto B (are the reasons we are doing this valid?) and finally the A (are there other ways of doing this?"

We were given a checklist to work through when considering our issue, which in our group was non-human resources.  The checklist was made up of 5 areas:
  • Dominating ideas, thoughts and beliefs that control the situation
  • Boundaries that we think we need to work within
  • Assumptions  that we are making - do they just exist in our minds?
  • Essential factors that have to be present
  • Avoidance factors
Having considered all the above, we we able to use to Green Thinking Hat to come up with a lot of new ideas.  For example just challenging the notion that the school day runs from 8 am to 4 pm would give us many new ideas to work with. Perhaps there could be 2 "shifts" with elementary running in the morning and secondary in the afternoon, for example.  We ended up with many new ideas, and then these were sorted into a grid based on the impact they would have on student learning and how sustainable they would be once the present faculty who were advocating for them left the school.

In the top right quadrant (high impact on learning and sustainable) we had about 50 ideas.  These were then numbered and we were each given 18 stickers to write down the number of our favourite ideas. Once these were then sorted and grouped, 4 main ideas came to the surface:
  • Becoming a green school
  • Exploring outdoor education and the use of green spaces around the campuses
  • Multi-age approaches to inquiry
  • Building an off-site innovation centre 
All of these seemed great ideas to work with - and hopefully we will take these forward to grow ASB's culture of innovation.

Photo Credit: Hampton Roads Partnership Flickr via Compfight cc

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