Teaching Decision Making to Adolescents

By Jonathan Baron; Rex V. Brown | Go to book overview

De Bono ( 1976) approach to teaching thinking skills could be considered in this light. His programs teach routines or exercises that are labelled so that they can be called up by the teacher or by the students themselves. For instance, he teaches students to do a PMI. PMI stands for Plus, Minus, Interesting. To do a PMI means to consider the consequences of something and to categorize the consequences as positive, negative, or interesting. Once students have learned how to do a PMI the teacher can ask for a PMI on issues that come up in the classroom. As the students become skilled, the PMI becomes available to them as a routine that can be deployed in their improvised responses to the challenges of life.


CONCLUSIONS

It is my hope that the pluralistic metaphorical view presented here will help three groups of people: (a) those of us who are trying to teach decision- making skills, (b) our students, and (c) our critics. I'll take these in reverse order:

Rationality is not very popular in some quarters. Our critics claim that people don't want to (and shouldn't) become "problem solvers" and "decision makers." In other words, they don't feel that the problem-solving and decision-making metaphors should become the dominant frames through which people view life. The pluralistic metaphors should help our critics see that what they are often criticizing is the limited metaphor of decision making, which focuses primarily on the act of choice. We don't believe this is adequate any more than they do.

Even when they have been exposed to the full decision-making model, our critics (especially those in some of my classes) argue that the decision- making view is incomplete and limiting. Words like intuition and creativity are often heard. The metaphors of design and improvisation provide more scope for considerations of intuition and creativity. Acknowledging the wider view of effective thinking may help our critics accept the value of more formal decision analysis in appropriate circumstances.

For our students, the pluralistic metaphorical views encourage richer metacognitive analysis of themselves. The students might be encouraged to see themselves more different ways. Both the design and improvisation metaphors are based on experts. It takes long training to be good at either architecture or jazz. Students may be more willing to accept that it takes reflection and practice to become better at effective thinking.

For ourselves, the metaphors of design and improvisation can expand our conception of what we are doing when we teach decision making. Both architecture and jazz have educational traditions through which students learn to be experts. We may learn from these examples ways of helping our

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