The 'old favourite' – The Development Compass Rose

Inevitably, this being a Tide~ initiative, we did look at the development compass rose to see if this was helpful.  Some of us on the group were around when the compass rose was first mooted back in the 1980s! A testament to its power. The compass rose can, and has been used in a variety of LOtC contexts. 

Click here to download the development compass rose

Here are some questions raised by a year 8 group looking at the management of the mature woodland at Bishop's Wood Centre. There were a number of protagonists placed at the points of the compass around a woodland. The group had to go and visit them to get answers to questions they had previously generated for each point of the compass. From this they had to come up with a sustainable management plan:

  • Political aspects over who manages the woodland and takes the decisions about its management;
  • Social benefits of the woodland and who should benefit from its management, who has been involved in the past and how it has impacted on the local community;
  • Economic benefits from woodland products and management;
  • Natural aspects of the woodland ecology.

Here are the questions generated.

The advantages of doing this outside the classroom was that learners could see what the protagonists were talking about. Each group then debated the different responses to the questions and came up with a management plan that reconciled the four, often different viewpoints of the compass, but had to show the woodland would be sustained.

The Tide~ publications Waking Up, Learning Journeys and Around the Garden in 80 ways' published in partnership with Birmingham Botanical Gardens, give some excellent examples of ways the compass rose has been used during visits to botanical gardens. 

At one of the meetings of the LOtC group the model was discussed, and there was a consensus that the compass rose could be quite complex – particularly if you were trying to resolve a question that took on sub-questions positioned around the compass (as shown in the woodland example).  It was felt that its effectiveness depended very much on which point in a learning journey the compass rose was introduced. We debated different 'models' of complexity being used at different points on a learning journey. It was felt that maybe the compass rose could be used to brainstorm issues to start with, and then it should be used at a later point in a learning journey. Once a group has its 'head' around the 'topic' or issue and had collected some information to answer questions they may have been exploring. This could also generate deeper questions and the model would then feed off itself!

De Bono's Thinking Hats

For those not familiar with Thinking Hats, this process takes on different viewpoints to solve a particular issue.  It involves much critical thinking about an issue, combining the affective and cognitive domains.  It therefore fits very well with the global education philosophy. De Bono's model of learning involves 6 different thinking hats. Here is an example of the 'model' being used in a LOtC context.

On a visit to a museum the students are told beforehand that they are going to visit a museum but not why!  Using the hats they need to clarify the point of the visit/learning by putting on one of the hats and to pursue the learning through the visit by 'putting on the hats' at various points of the visit. The hats all have different colours and characteristics.

White hat represents facts and information about the situation and the problem. It is objective knowledge, more description than explanation.

Red hat represents emotional perceptions of a problem or a situation. It is subjective experience, feelings and intuition.

Green hat produces new ideas, suggestions or solutions. It is a symbol of open and creative thinking.

Yellow hat collects positive aspects of a solution, advantages or future benefits. It also represents the positive motivation of a chosen solution.

Black hat picks up all negative aspects of a proper solution or decision. It describes threats, discomforts or bad consequences.

 Blue hat represents the control of the whole process. It suggests the subsequent steps both during the learning journey and after.

This hat allows participants to steer the process and to focus the method on the right direction.

Students can only ascertain the different aspects of the visit by 'stating the hat' before questioning the teacher or even 'putting the hat on'. Inevitably the first hat to be put on is the blue one, to ascertain what the reason for visiting the museum is. For example a visit to Soho House in Birmingham could start off with a question, ‘What direct influence has a Matthew Boulton invention had on other countries?’

On a visit to the museum learners then adopt different hats to expand and further the learning from this basic question. For example, a white hat to get more information about coins minted with the 'Boulton' mint for the British East India company, a red hat to explore how the government in India felt about a new currency being introduced from a colonial company etc etc. As the group approaches the end of the visit/learning journey relating to the initial question they adopt the blue hat.

The group evaluate what has been learned and what the answer(s) to the initial question is/are and may even ask questions about today and the future. Using the Soho House example, such a question could be "What are the implications of having a mint on the financial market today and possibly in the future?", "What has to be done in the near future given the current economic situation regarding money and finance?"

Ref: Six thinking hats, Edward de Bono, Penguin, 2000

Bloom's Taxonomy

I offer this not so much as a 'model' for exploring concepts but as a way of structuring a learning journey that involves a visit outside the classroom.  Many readers will be fully aware of Bloom's taxonomy but I feel it is an important process that really does 'deepen' the learning, and integrates LOtC with learning inside the classroom.  Here are some sample questions worth considering at each stage of Bloom's taxonomy, again using a visit as an example.

A visit to Birmingham's Science Museum, Thinktank, "things about me" exhibition (human biology) could generate the following questions:
Knowledge/remembering – What do we know about our bodies and how food helps keep us alive?  (a pre visit question);
Comprehension/Understanding – Does the exhibition show what different foods do to help different parts of the body?
Application/applying – what types of food are best for our bodies?
Analysis/Analyzing – where does the food come from and what is good and what is bad for our bodies?
Evaluating – So what do I think about the types of food that are good/bad for our bodies and where it comes from?
Synthesising/creating – what can I do about the food entering my body, ie the food I eat – do I change my eating habits?  

Obviously this is an oversimplification, and many more questions may be considered at each stage of the process, to deepen the learning further.

Our brains use schematic models to understand the world, and in order to enhance the learning process, both the learning journey and 'models' for making sense of the world need to be considered. As the complexity of the world outside the classroom 'feeds' the classroom, models for learning become even more important if we are to make some sort of sense of life! The challenge is how far do we simplify to understand, and can we really understand the complexity?

We hope this article, along with the other LOtC articles, stimulates thought and debate as it has done within the liaison group.  We would love to hear from any teachers or educators who have effectively used 'models' for Learning Outside the Classroom in a global context, particularly any new ones.

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