Critical thinking and the Decamot Method

31 May 2016

The world changes at an incredible rate and with this comes the need for critical thinking - the ability to convert new information into reflective and logical actions quickly and effectively to solve problems. This skill is highly important for students, anyone in a fast-changing workplace and, in fact, anyone making their way through life. Critical thinking isn’t something that can be learnt through a textbook or Google, however, and secondary school teachers are under great pressure to teach the syllabus, with little of their training devoted to how to teach critical thinking skills. In order to develop critical thinking, students need to learn how to problem solve in a more creative way, and this is where the Decamot Method can help. The Decamot Method takes a simple approach to getting students to think creatively. The process encourages the three Cs – competition, creativity and collaboration – and results in a screen or stage play that participating students can proudly stage or film. You can read more about the three Cs in our earlier news post. Having introduced the Decamot Method to three schools over the past year as part of a pilot study, we’ve seen fantastic evidence of students learning and advancing key capabilities such as how to develop ideas, work together and critique their own and others’ work – all helping to develop critical thinking and decision making skills that will help in all aspects of later life. The Decamot Method is formed of four sessions: Session 1 involves setting the students up to compete in a short story competition. The Decamot trainer and students together select 10 unconnected words, discussing the meaning and derivation of them. For example, consider the word ‘game’. Taken literally, there are many types of game: board games, card games, team games, etc. But, ‘game’ could also refer to animals being hunted. Exploring what words can mean to different people forms the basis for an interesting group discussion and kick-starts the creative thinking. Following the first session, the students have three weeks to write individual stories including all 10 words. Once this individual task is complete, the Decamot Method moves into collaborative working. During Session 2, each student reads his own entry to the class and each is then discussed by the group and subjected to a critical analysis of what makes a satisfying story. The session ends with a democratic vote to decide which Decamot has the most dramatic potential. This process encourages students to evaluate new ideas, and requires the use of critical thinking to review their own and others’ work, work as a group to select the winning entry and consider ways it could be modified for improvement. The chosen Decamot is developed into an outline screenplay by the Decamot trainers and presented back to the students during Session 3. The third session involves the students working collaboratively, acting out different scenes and developing the script into a stage or screenplay. In developing characters and scenarios, students are required to call upon their own experiences, knowledge and reasoning, justifying and reflecting on their own values and decisions, and considering them alongside others’. Working collaboratively, they consider multiple perspectives, helping them to further develop their critical thinking skills. Session 4 involves a full critical analysis of the completed screenplay, discussing what works and the areas which might need fine tuning. Throughout the process, the Decamot trainers help to guide the students to refine their critical thinking skills by providing constructive feedback on the students’ arguments, reasoning and thinking. The results of the three pilots have been amazing and we’re excited about publishing these results at an event in London later this month. If you would like to register your school’s interest in having a Decamot trainer visit, or would like to find out more about the event, email stanley@decamot.com/gavin@decamot.com.

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