Hats, schmats: what really matters is the quality of debate


I feel the need to make a few things clear. A few days ago I wrote this: Six Silly Hats (When is it OK to mock stuff you think is daft?) and some of the response I got suggested that I was confused on several points.

  • I clearly had no idea what the hats actually were (I do)
  • I had gotten confused about the metaphorical nature of the hats and that people don’t actually wear them (I wasn’t and they do. Honestly.)
  • The hats are just a tool to help pupils think laterally and if thinking laterally is a good thing then so must the hats be.
  • How on earth could I prove that hats don’t work. Surely if teachers find them useful I should just shut up and let them get on with it.

Firstly, I really don’t care about Edward de Bone or his Thinking Hats®. Although I read his book in the late 90s and have undergone various training in which I was encourage or exhorted to use them in my classroom, I never actually have. They just seemed like too much trouble and, yes, silly. Now, this in no way marks me out as particularly wise or discerning. In my time i’ve fallen hook, line and sinker for just about every fad and gimmick that’s been and gone. But the hats never did it for me. So, I’m unable to report on their efficacy – I just don’t know whether they ‘work’. To that extent you’re welcome to dismiss my views as contempt prior to investigation.

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