Thursday, April 7

School Belle

A few weeks ago I saw signs that formal (and potentially creative) thinking methods seemed to be gaining a foothold in our schools.  At the time I promised a follow-up if I found out more ...

Having blogged, I then blagged a free copy of "Creative Teaching and Learning" magazine (thanks Sandie!) and started reading.  The most interesting article I found was about a framework called "TASC", which was introduced by Belle Wallace some years ago.   I'd recommend glancing at the 8 stages of the TASC framework at

I was immediately struck by the partial similarity of TASC to another framework--"TO-LO-PO-SO-GO", by Edward de Bono.   His method is described best in the "Thinking Course” book, but here's the gist:

  • TO - What's our goal?
  • LO - What do we know, and what can we find out?
  • PO - Can we provoke ourselves to think more unusual thoughts?
  • SO - Which of our options is the best?
  • GO - What are the next steps?

I've revealed my hand on this subject before, most notably by contributing a variant of "TO-LO-PO-SO-GO" as a customisation script for the "Southbeach Modeler" tool.

The similarities with TASC are comforting, and should further encourage both authors that they're on to something.

But I spotted two differences:

  1. Whilst de Bono tries to identify the problem before gathering information about it, Belle Wallace seems to tackle these steps the other way around.
  2. The three reflective steps and the end of the TASC wheel have no parallel in "TO-LO-PO-SO-GO".

So I got in touch with Belle, who was very helpful ...

She explained that the order of the first two phases can indeed be reversed, but she also gave me a great reason for their given order:  "If the pupils are likely to know something about the general topic then they gather and organise what they already know first - then the identify [phase] becomes 'What would we like to find out?' " 

Having a hand in exploring what they don't know, and what they'd like to find out, encourages children to do far more than just copy and paste answers from the internet.

As I suspected, the last three phases are most applicable in a learning environment, to help us conclude effectively and do everything better next time.   They're "major stages in becoming an expert, reflective thinker."

Belle also told me that TASC is now widely used across the UK and some Local Education Authorities are encouraging all their schools to engage with the Framework.   Apparently the TASC website has an evaluation of its use across 10,000 classrooms, and OfSTED have praised it for developing pupils' thinking.

Perhaps Generation Z will be able to teach de Bono and Wallace a thing or two about thinking?  Ever the optimist, I'm certainly hoping so!

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