Much of the time, our solutions to problems are limited by the ideas we already think will work or we have seen before. By articulating two extreme ideas that seem mutually exclusive, we force ourselves to consider a greater number of factors in our decision-making process. The more extreme we make them, the more diversity we will have available to us in our solution-set. If you think the “realistic” options aren’t that extreme or opposing, create more extreme versions of them (e.g. ”Allow students to choose how they spend 30 minutes each day” becomes “create a student-run school”). This will prevent exploring options that already contain compromises.
One of the goals of Integrative Thinking is to expand the elements that we consider salient to a decision. To do this, we’ve found it helpful to think through the benefits of each option to the stakeholders most materially affected by the decision. This forces us to expand the variables we consider.
Integrative Thinking Process
The process of examining models is a structured method to identify links and relationships between different ideas. The goal of examining models is to try to understand the points at which the models come into tension and the places they do not. From an education perspective, this process:
- Helps students deeply understand the models they are exploring and highlight the many assumptions they may have about them.
- Gives students a way to find their voice by helping them clearly explain what they value about each model and why.
- Offers students an opportunity to see value in ideas they might otherwise reject
- Helps students identify areas of synergy between different models.