IELTS Writing and the Six Thinking Hats
In creativity literature, it is known that there are two types of creative people: Adaptors and Creators. The former generate ideas that improve current systems with their focus on details, while the latter generate more radical change by paying attention to novelty. IELTS candidates should know that it’s not easy for everyone to come up with original ideas under the pressure of an international language proficiency test. Therefore, more light should be shed on the importance of developing the already existing ideas. In order to achieve this goal, one must read or listen/watch a lot. Have your students read as many samples of writing as possible. Sit together with them and watch/listen to sample speaking tests. Make sure the candidate understands the purpose of going over these samples is not to memorize answers but to get ideas about how others respond to a certain type of question and choose the most useful words, expressions, idioms, collocations, discourse markers, approaches, etc.
The practice tools for creativity can be used regardless of the creativity approach an individual adopts. In his book, “Six Thinking Hats”, Edward de Bono suggests that 6 different vantage points should be considered when developing a tactic to resolve a particular issue. The six hats are:
• Blue: Managing– Above everything else -Organizer’s view -the big picture
• White: Information–Purely the available information -Only facts and figures
• Red Emotions– Initiative emotional feelings
• Black: Discernment– Careful and cautious – Devil’s advocate
• Yellow: Optimistic response– Sees the brighter, the benefits, the sunny side
• Green: Creativity– Thinks creatively, out of the box
It is highly beneficial for IELTS candidates to practice wearing these six hats when they are generating ideas for writing essays, or letter writing in the general module. Learning how to shift from one point of view to another means being able to generate more ideas in the brainstorming phase, and that will lead to better-written texts. However, it takes time and effort to learn to use this tool, and the teacher needs to make sure students are using it right.
Take this Writing task 2 rubric for instance:
Some people think that the parents should teach children how to be good members of society. Others, however, believe that school is the place to learn this.
Discuss both these views and give your opinion.
Now, let’s practice putting on some of the six hats and see what different questions we should ask ourselves while looking at the same rubric from different vantage points.
- The long term effect and continuity of the education received from parents
- The possible budget allocation issues for this type of training at school
- A long-term plan in the educational system to make necessary reforms
- Planning the cooperation and coordination of different organizations in the society with schools to provide children with a training of this sort, etc.
- The number of vandals in the society
- The budget allocated to repairs and restorations caused by gangs and irresponsible members of the society
- The number of teenagers in penitentiaries
- The number of orphans whose parents were killed by gangs and the budget spent on taking care of these children in governmental or private foster houses, etc.
- The comfort of receiving information from parents rather than teachers
- The bond created between parents and kids as a result of training them as good human beings, etc.
And this could go on and on. Bear in mind that this is just the brainstorming phase of the writing, and then the candidate needs to sift through them for the most appropriate ones.
Practice putting on these different hats together with your students and teach them how it is done.