Introducing a Thinking Environment into a new class

Today I am going to attempt to replicate the success of a class last week. It will be very telling if the lesson I have planned works as well as with the first group. What did I do? I introduced the Thinking Environment components to the students and held the lesson in a Thinking Environment.

Briefly, that entailed introducing the 10 components, and focusing on five: Attention, Equality, Diversity, Ease and Appreciation. We held 4 Rounds sessions - in a circle, away from desks, a volunteer starting the ball rolling with their answer to the question I'd posed, continuing with each subsequent person to their left; no interruptions and full attention on the speaker. My secondary aim was to have the students practice their writing skills.


The students went along with me, open to the ideas I was presenting to them and willing to work with them. I was enthralled by their engagement  during small group discussions about the meanings behind the words I gave them (the 10 components). They rose to the "demand high" challenge to think how else could these words be used. I also risked a final Appreciation round - they did that too, without embarrassment of silliness, genuinely appreciating the person to their left. 


The closing exercise was to practise their writing skills. It also provided me with valuable feedback on their thoughts about the efficacy of holding a lesson in a Thinking Environment.


What I learned from this experience is how quickly the students grasped the sense behind the components and appreciated the values of Equality, Attention and Ease. Getting complete adherence to listening with palpable attention was patchy - but much better than my experience of "regular" classes. But to be fair,  I slipped up once in my eagerness to ensure one round went "correctly", reverting to automatic teacher instruction mode.


From what the majority in this first group wrote after their first encounter with a Thinking Environment, it seems they are skeptical of its use in the workplace (they are dual study students). Traditional German companies being too hierarchical in structure, with too many bosses subscribing to a more authoritarian style of management. They were definitely optimistic and positive about using it at university with smaller groups (there were 11 in this class).


So today, I am curious of the outcome with the second group. Curious, excited and optimistic. I'll report back shortly.


Write a comment

Comments: 2
  • #1

    Doris Graf (Tuesday, 26 January 2016 11:27)

    Fascinanting read. How about a step by step outline / handout for those who wish to try it out for themselves?
    Please keep posting your excellent articles.

  • #2

    Michelle (Tuesday, 02 February 2016 10:47)

    Thanks for the encouragement Doris.
    I shall think about the best solution for a handout.