Critical and Lateral Thinking

Have you ever stopped to think about the way we think? In a world where information and communication are becoming increasingly important everyday, teaching our children how to properly process and think is paramount. This is a far more complicated task than it appears on the surface however, as different scenarios require different approaches to thinking. For example, the process of deciding whether to invest in a hedge fund is very different from deciding on what to get your spouse for their birthday. In the first scenario, analyzing the costs and benefits are the most important factors, but with the latter, creativity and emotions more important.

At 21st Century STEM Academy, we want to equip students with the ability to think clearly and effectively in a variety of situations. We accomplish this through a method called the Six Thinking Hats. This approach breaks down six ways of thinking and identifies each with a different colored hat. Like physical hats, these "thinking hats" are easy to put on and take off whenever necessary.

The Blue Hat stands for Process. This means organizing one’s thoughts, deciding on what kind of thinking is best, planning how to act, etc. Using this hat helps determine what other hats the student will need to put on to solve a problem or understand a concept.

On the other hand, the Black Hat stands for Cautions. This means examining the costs, risks, etc involved with a decision or solution.

The Green Hat stands for Creativity. This involves coming up with ideas and possible solutions to a problem.

The White Hat represents Facts. Putting on the White Hat involves asking questions such as “What do I know?”, “What information do I not know?”, and “how do I find the missing information?” The White Hat helps students think through relevant information for making a decision, and avoid making decisions out of bias.

The Yellow Hat stands for Benefits. This means thinking though the benefits and value a possible solution could bring.

Finally, the Red Hat stands for Feelings. This means examine what your "gut reaction" is towards a situation, thinking about how your feelings may change, and also how others may emotionally respond to the decision at hand.

To learn more about the Six Hat Method, click here