A news article about the Olympics provided the opportunity to introduce Integrative Thinking to my grade 6 students. The article from The Associated Press
tells how athletes competing in the Olympics are not allowed to wear tribute armbands nor stickers honouring those who have died
In the past I might have used this article to teach debating. And while teaching students strategies for arguing leads to lively times, in the end a debate is not all that useful. Skilled debaters’ eloquence and wit is admired. One side defeats the other. The good ideas from the opposing side are lost. No solution to the conflict is found. The original tension that arose from the opposing points of view is never resolved.
Given the complex problems facing the world, teaching students to seek entrenched positions and enter into conflict is something that we need to move beyond. Integrative Thinking is about finding creative solutions when opposing points of view arise.
We began by constructing models of the opposing side. This is descriptive and should involve no value judgements.
Identify the Extreme Models
|Model 1: Any Message Allowed
|Model 2: No Messages Allowed
Next we identified 3 stakeholders: IOC, Athletes and Fans. We then looked at how each stakeholder benefits from each model. These are Pro-Pro T-Charts
Identify 1 the Most Significant Benefit for Each Stakeholder from Each Model
(this is a simplified version of Integrative Thinking)
Students worked in groups of 4 for the next part of the process.
Create a Solution the Includes the Benefits
An interesting solution from another group included every uniform having a black dot to recognize the personal struggles of each athlete.
At the end of the period we debriefed and discussed the difference between debating and Integrative Thinking. Many students saw that this would prevent arguments. One student recognized that in debating no solution is actually found.
Nice work grade 6s!