All posts by qmuldert

Concepts and Alternatives and learning centre summary

This is your last blog post for the in-depth project!

Give us a brief summary your learning these past four weeks.  In addition, address chapter 9 and 10 in the How to Have a Beautiful Mind.  Lastly, describe your learning centre to be presented during In-depth Night at the end of May


De Bono’s Chapter Discussion:

9. Concepts

De Bono states, “Concepts are the parents of practical ideas” (p. 107). For example, transportation is a concept and car is the practical idea. “When you believe you have extracted the concept from what is being said, you can check on this by asking a question: ‘It seems to me that the concept here is…Is that correct?’” (p. 111). Concepts are helpful when clarifying less familiar information or facts. Some concepts may be too specific, narrowing our thinking. Do Bono identifies different concepts, such as business concepts, customer value concepts, and delivery concept. “Concepts capture the main ‘essence’ but may not cover all aspects” (p. 118). Learning a need skill may be riddled with new concepts.

Task: List some examples of concepts in your most recent sessions with your mentor.

  1. Alternatives

Let’s have a closer look at “alternatives.” They provide additional insight, improvements, simplifications, and flexibility. Do Bono writes, “The main point is that having a way of doing something does not mean it is the best way of doing it” (p. 125). There are three stages:

  1. The willingness to look for alternatives
  2. The creative effort to generate alternatives
  3. The assessment of alternatives (de Bono, p. 126)

Alternatives can be explored when doing something or perceiving something. How do we generate alternatives?

For action alternatives:

  1. Think of known alternatives
  2. Then ask what other alternatives may be available

For perception alternatives:

  1. See the situation from another perspective.
  2. Take the opposite of the perception.

De Bono writes, “Alternatives of action and of ideas are about the future. . . .Alternatives of explanation and perception; however, are about the present and the past” (p. 135).

Task: What alternatives has your mentor offered you throughout this project? What alternatives may another mentor have offered you? Discuss in detail.


In addition, give us a brief description of your learning centre.  How are you going to present your learning during these past few months?  What aspects are you going to focus on, knowing that you cannot share everything you have learned?  What do you hope the audience will learn from your experiences? What are you going to need to do to make this learning centre interactive?


Post #5: Parallel Thinking – The Six Hats

Parallel Thinking- the Six  Hats

Socrates, Plato and Aristotle designed the art of argument. De Bono states, “Each side makes a ‘case’ and then seeks to defend that case and prove the other ‘case’ to be wrong” (p. 89). The motivation to be right is high but the actual content not so much. De Bono states, “We use argument not because we think it is such a wonderful method-but because we do not know any other method” (p. 89).

De Bono devised a different way of thinking, called the “Six Hats.” He uses different colours to describe the different ways of thinking about a situation. It is important that every member uses the same hat in the same conversation- parallel thinking. Therefore, you need to be able to identify the different hats.

White hat: White means information. Hard facts are facts that we can check. Soft information covers information such as rumours or personal facts. During a white hat conversations, all information is laid out on the table.

What do we know?

What do we need to know?

What is missing?

What questions should we ask?

How might we get the information we need?

Red hat: Red information includes emotions, feelings and intuition. You do not have to give any reasons to back up why you feel this way. Intuition is helpful when there is no other way to check the information.

I do not like this idea at all.

My feeling is that this simply will not work.

My intuition is that raising the price will destroy the market.

My gut feeling is that this is highly dangerous.

I feel it is a waste of time.

My intuition is that she is a bright person for the job.

Black hat: This hat includes critical thinking and judging information. It helps us to act properly and safely.

Does this fit our values?

Does this fit our resources?

Does this fit our strategy and objectives?

Does this fit our abilities?

The black hat thinking can:

Indicate a fault in logic

Point out incorrect information

Point out faults and weaknesses

Point out why something does not fit

Point out the “downside”

Point out potential problems.

Yellow hat: This hat looks for values, benefits and why something should work. The yellow hat leads to insights and everyone makes an effort to find value.

Green hat: This hat is productive because it “asks for ideas, alternatives, possibilities and designs” (de Bono, p. 99). This hat helps with creativity.

Blue hat: This hat helps organize other hats. First, it defines the focus and purpose of a conversation. Second, it sets up a sequence of hats for the conversation.

For the benefits of using hats read page 104 and for an excellent summary read pages 105-106.


Record a short section of conversation between you and your mentor. Transcribe the conversation. Identify the different hats in the conversation.


Post #4: Keep it going

In-depth post #4 (week six and seven)

A good listener respects the speaker, pays attention, is genuinely interested, and values what is heard. At the beginning of your in-depth project, you probably spend more time listening than speaking with your mentor. Make sure you are patient and do not interrupt the speaker. De Bono states, “If you listen carefully and attentively you will get more value from listening than talking” (p. 67). Listening gives you new ideas, new information, new facts, new insights and new discoveries. When listening, take notice of the vocabulary being used, repeat or paraphrase part of the conversation, ask questions (more about this later), or ask for more details. According to de Bono, there are two foci: what is the speaker trying to tell you and what are you hearing and is it relevant to what the speaker is trying to say? For example, listen to the argument as well as the content of the argument.

Try to address some of the following possibilities during your next visit with your mentor:

  • #4 What new information are you getting and what questions did you ask to probe further into the topic?
  • #5 Discuss any new points of view you developed while in conversation with your mentor.
  • #6 What were some of the alternative perceptions that are new to you.
  • #9 How do your mentor values differ from yours?
  • #12 What questions did you ask to check on facts and details? Elaborate.

In addition to how to listen, it is also important to ask questions to generate interaction. De Bono states, “A question is simply a way of directing attention” (p. 81).  Are you able to distinguish between shooting and fishing questions? Which type do you tend to use most of the time? Why? Questions allow you, for example, to check on the source and the validity of the information being shared, ask for more details, ask for an explanation, offer alternatives and possibilities, modify the proposition form the speaker, state multiple choice options and clarify values. Asking about the basis of someone’s thinking, someone’s feelings, someone’s decisions, or someone’s proposal will clarify the conversation.

Try the following during the next session with your mentor:

  • #1 Ask questions. Record them. Why did you ask these questions?
  • #8 Ask for an explanation for a certain skill you are learning. Discuss what happened.
  • #11 Ask a multiple choice question. Was this useful? Explain.
  • #12 Ask the speaker to clarify his or her underlying values for doing, thinking and feeling the way they do.

Keep the interest level high.

Quirien Mulder ten Kate

Post #3: How to have a beautiful mind, (week four and five)

In-depth post #3 (week four and five)

De Bono continues his discussion of how to have a beautiful mind with “how to be interesting” and “how to respond.”

Let’s start with how to be interesting. He suggests to talk about what you are passionate about. Sounds like talking about your in-depth project is a perfect fit. You will need to be able to talk about it with people who know nothing about the topic, for example your peers and/or teachers! Secondly, you need to be able to talk about it with people who know something about it, such as your mentors. There are different types of interests: sharing information, asking “what if” types of questions, offering possibilities, alternatives and speculations and making connections between them and practising creativity and new ideas. De Bono suggests that we get into the habit of saying, “Now that is interesting” (p. 49), because it pauses the conversation, stating it “Opens up possibilities and alternatives. You will make connections” (p. 49). In other words, you will have to explain why you find that point interesting.

During your next session with your mentor try…

  • #6 To find and make connections that link matters together and generates interest.
  • #10 To explore, to elaborate and to pull interest out of the matter.
  • #3 To use the “what if” statement to get to new lines of thought.

De Bono states that there are three objectives to a conversation: to reach agreement, to agree on the points of difference and to have an interesting time together. How do we reply or respond to parts of the conversation will further direct the conversation. There are a number of reasons to respond to a comment: asking for clarification, offering support, sharing examples and stories, building on the conversation points, extending the discussion, carrying the discussion forward into practice or modifying the proposition being stated.

During the next two weeks, try

  • #2 to ask for clarification whenever you are unclear or in doubt about something the mentor tells you or shows you.
  • #3 to support a point your mentor makes with additional facts, figures, evidence etc.
  • # 5 to share a personal story that illustrates the conversation topic.
  • # 10 to modify an idea to make it more acceptable to yourself and to make it stronger or more practical.

Have fun this week.

Quirien Mulder ten Kate

Post #2: How to have a beautiful mind (week two and three)

The in-depth this year will incorporate a discussion and application of Edward de Bono’s book, called How to Have a Beautiful Mind. What can you do to make your mind more beautiful? Others, in particular your in-depth project mentors, will appreciate having beautiful conversations with you. This project’s secondary purpose focuses on conducting and analyzing conversations between you and your mentor. You are going to learn from your mentor by careful observations as well as conversations about your observations of his or her craft. This in-depth project is not about reading about your craft but about practicing your craft. The habits described in this book have to be practiced, too. What better way, then trying to explore and experience some of these habits with your mentor?

The first three habits are how to agree, how to disagree and how to differ. Read the corresponding three sections in your book. For the in-depth followers who do not have this resource, here is a brief summary.

  1. How to agree? It is important that you do not agree or disagree with everything your mentor is telling you. This would be rather irritating. As a mentee who is starting to learn a new skill with a mentor who is the expert, being right all the time in an argument or any situation is not helpful in this relationship. You are trying to explore the craft alongside your mentor with mutual respect and patience. Everyone has their own logic bubble that is formed by perceptions, values, needs and experiences. Seeing where that person is “coming from” helps you see their logic (p. 6). Also, find a special circumstance in which or a certain value for which an idea may make sense. Generalizations also get us into trouble.

During your next session with your mentor try to follow some of de Bono’s guidelines for how to agree (p. 11). For example:

  1. #7 See if there are any circumstances in which the other person’s views might be right.
  2. #6 Make a real effort to see where the other person is coming from.
  3. #1 Genuinely seek to find points of agreement in what the other person is saying.

How to disagree? Being able to disagree helps us tell the truth as well as “investigate any issue objectively and fully” (p. 14). Make sure that when you disagree you are polite. Reasons to disagree are, for example, errors in logic, limited interpretation of data and selective perception. Is the disagreement objective or does it come from emotions, different experiences, sweeping generalizations and extrapolations. De Bono states, “You may be willing to accept something as a “possibility” but very unwilling to accept it as a “certainty” (p. 22). Do not just say you disagree, but state the type of disagreement (see p. 24).

During your next session with your mentor try to follow some of de Bono’s guidelines for how to disagree (p. 26). For example:

  1. #2 Do not disagree just to show how clever you are or to boost your ego.
  2. #8 You may want to disagree to show a different personal experience.
  3. #12 Distinguish between having a different opinion and disagreeing with an opinion.
  1. How to differ?

One difference is on one opinion being right and the other being wrong. The second difference has to do with opinions about the future which can be right or wrong as time will tell. There are many sources for differences in opinion: personal preferences, values, points of view and different personal experiences. It is best to spell out the difference in opinions and the reasons for this difference. Sometimes we need to accept a difference of opinions and while at other times, terms may need to be clarified that led to a difference of opinion.

During your next session with your mentor try to follow some of de Bono’s guidelines for how to differ (p. 19). For example:

  1. When a difference arises, try to figure out what this difference is based on.
  2. Can a difference be reconciled? Which difference and how can it be reconciled?
  3. Do you and your mentor have a different opinion of the future? How so?
  4. What are some of the opinions of your mentor? How do they compare to yours?

Task: In your second in-depth post comment on your progress so far and how you were able to incorporate the first three aspects of how to have a beautiful mind.

In-depth Post #1: Let’s get started.

In-depth Study: Two Universal Goals.

The in-depth project is the TALONS’ program final pillar of the school year.  The in-depth project has two main goals:

1. Know something about everything and everything about something.

In school you are usually taught about many subjects.  In this project, the goal is to learn a great deal about one field of activity, usually not available in a school setting.

2. Learn what others tell you is important and learn what you decide is important.

In school you are told what to learn and how to learn it.  In this project, you will decide in what field and with what strategies, you will become an “expert.”


We are interested in three components of your study.

1. The process: as young people, you will be learning patterns of behavior that will emphasize your strengths and that will help you overcome any difficulties.

–          Project will last at least five months

–          Your bi-weekly blog will demonstrate the process:

Blogging Criteria

Post includes: thorough progress report, includes information on mentor, describes frustrations, overcoming obstacles, includes evidence that illustrates process and product, includes modifications to project, includes relevant research, quotes, articles, references, websites etc, shows a caring about project.  Entry makes sense, is written concisely. 4
Includes most of the above description, but in less detail. 3
Includes about half of the above description, but in little detail.  Little progress is demonstrated. 2
In-depth study is progressing too slowly.  Entry is vague.  Demonstrates that not much effort has been made since last entry. 1
Not completed or handed in on time 0

2. The product: The product will include three areas:

i.            The evidence of learning

ii.            The source of self-esteem

iii.            The cause for celebration

3. The mentor: The relationship with the expert in your field.  This relationship will include three areas:

i.          Meeting with mentor on regularly basis

ii.         Expanding network in community

iii.       Getting feedback on progress

iv.       Obtaining an in-depth understanding of chosen field.

The learner’s first entry introduces their project, reasons for their choice and a description of their mentors.  In two weeks, learners will report back about their mentor and first few weeks of progress.

Quirien Mulder ten Kate

In-depth 2018: Tilling the soil and more – Mentorship (week eleven)

At this point in the project you should have concluded the preparing and negotiating phase.  We will now spend most of our time in the enabling phase.   The mentor provides adequate conditions, such as support, challenge and vision, adding feedback and reflection during the enabling phase.  Mentors coach and model what they would like us to know, understand and practice, providing continuous feedback and support and creating a learning environment to build and maintain the relationship.  The learning environment includes the physical setting, resources and opportunity. Respect, trust  and communication are important elements in maintaining the relationship as well.

Zachary (2000) notes that feedback and overcoming obstacles are two strategies to enable support, challenge and vision to occur. You, as the mentee, are responsible for asking for feedback by:

– being specific and descriptive in asking for feedback

– making sure that what you are asking for is clear and understandable

– staying focused

– avoiding being defensive

– seeking alternatives, not answers

– checking for understanding

– making sure you are getting what you need

– asking for feedback on a regular basis

Lastly, how can obstacles be overcome or reduced?

– making sure you are available but not expect they are available at your beg and call

– making sure your mentor is  more skilled than you are

– making sure your mentor is focused and meeting your needs

– making sure you commit as a mentee and follow through on your responsibilities

Reflection Questions for Week 11:

1. What kinds of learning opportunities does the mentor provide to expose you to new learning?

2. What kinds of learning opportunities exist to reinforce new learning?

3. What kinds of opportunities exist that might accelerate learning?

4. When you get together what do you talk about?

5. What is going particularly well in your mentoring relationship right now?

6. What are you learning about one another?

Enjoy the learning in the moment!

Mulder ten Kate

In-depth 2018: Mentorship (week seven)

Zachary points out that “mentoring relationships progress through four predictable phases: preparing, negotiating, enabling, and coming to closure” (p. 49).  Each of these phases may vary in length depending on the people involved and type of project.  Opportunities to reflect, such as blog posts, enhance the learning throughout these phases and allow for tweaking interactions throughout the entire duration of the project.  Zachary notes that ” Reflection, in combination with the key elements of readiness, opportunity, and support, forms the scaffolding (or structure) for facilitating the learning that takes place throughout each phase” (p. 50).


– clarifying expectations

– setting goals

– making sure the mentor is ready


– defining content and relationship

– sharing understanding about assumptions, expectations, goals, and needs

– addressing confidentiality, boundaries, and limits

– sharing details about how and when to meet, responsibilities, criteria for success


– implementing the project

– maintaining trust, communicating and learning

Coming to closure:

– evaluating learning

– applying learning to other situations

– acknowledging mentor

– celebrating learning

At this point in the project, you should be in the enabling phases of the mentoring relationship.   Zachary (2000) concludes, “Facilitating effective learning relationships requires a mentor’s commitment to time and investment of time during the entire mentoring cycle.  Reflecting on one’s own learning and tending to the key elements of readiness, opportunity, and support to make sure that they are in place helps mentors promote the learning of their mentees” (p. 64),

Reflection Questions for post #4 (week seven) :

1. What has been my most difficult mentoring challenge so far?  Why?

2. What is working well? Why?

3. What could be working better?  How can you make sure this happens?


In-depth 2018: The context of mentorship (week five)

Zachary (2000) defines “context” as, “the circumstances, conditions, and contributing forces that affect how we connect, interact with, and learn from one another” (p. 29).  Every talons learner should realize that this statement does not only apply to our in-depth project, but also, for example, to our group projects in our quads and committee work for our upcoming adventure trip.  Even though each of these examples has a context, they vary from one another significantly. These contexts are situational and complex. In other words, the context changes from project to project, but also from moment to moment during one project.

Let’s say that someone makes  a remark in a group that someone does not appreciate or takes offense with. The context in which we work will have slightly altered the relationship the group members have with one another.  The person most deeply affected by the comment may be assertive and point out how the comment was perceived or may remain silent and no one will know that something in the group has slightly shifted. Every act and every word will change the context in which we work with one another. At the same time, what we do or say in one context may not be appropriate in another context.  How we interpret a situation will depend on our own experiences and history.  Daloz (1986) points out that we, individually and collectively, respond to people’s behaviours and values in a context and in turn the context responds to us as well.

Zachary (2000) states, “The context of a mentoring relationship adds its own unique layer of complexity…Because multiple  contextual layers affect an individual simultaneously, learning partners in a mentoring relationship need to communicate expectations and establish ground rules and processes that work for them in specific context” (p. 30).

Is the context of the mentoring relationship, for example:

1. long distance?

2. cross-cultural?

3. cross-gender?

4. cross-generational?

In any mentoring relationship, some ground rules need to be set up in advance so the mentor and mentee have a clear picture of what the purpose, processes and product are going to be at the end of their time together.

Some of the questions and points to address are:

1. How many times are we going to be meeting?   How regular?  How long is each session? Time commitment?

2. How are we going to be communicating?  Online?  In person? Over the phone?

3. Where are we meeting?  Why?

4. How do we maintain our connection with one another?

Your task for your third post is to answer at least three of the following questions as well as report on your progress so far.

1. What went particularly well during your mentoring sessions?

2.  What relationship challenges did you face?  Address some of the sub- questions below

a. Were you communicating effectively with one another? Explain

b. Were you candid and open in your communication? Explain

c. Did you take care to check out assumptions with each other? Explain

d. Were you actually listening to each other? Explain

3. What learning challenges emerged?

a. What did you do to hold yourselves accountable for the learning?

4. What logical challenges affected your communication?

a. What factors affected your ability to interact effectively?

5. What three strategies could improve the quality of your mentoring  interactions?

6. What is the action plan for implementing each of the three strategies?

Context affects the learning that is going to take place. Zachary (2000) writes, “Context is an intimate part of who we are.  We bring contextual layering to our relationships-and, in fact, to everything we do. Consciously reflecting on context helps us ensure integrity of the learning process” (p. 47).

In-depth 2018: Mentorship (Week three)

Laurent A. Daloz (1999) states, “Education is something we neither “give” nor “do” to our students.  Rather, it is a way we stand in relation to them” pp. xvii).  His notion fits well with our program’s autonomous learner model and its philosophy. He asks an important question in Mentor Guiding the Journey of Adult Learners, “The question for us as teachers is not whether but how we influence our students.  It is a question about a relationship: Where are our students going, and who are we for them in their journey?”  (p. 5).  A few years ago TALONS teachers and learners chose one word to describe a focus  for the year.  My word was “relationship” or to be more action-oriented, “to relate.”    Your  mentor and you are in relationship with one another during your in-depth project for the next five months. I will dissect this relationship approximately every two weeks in another blog post. Daloz (1999) points out that the mentor performs three tasks.  They support the learner.  They challenge the learner. Finally, they provide a vision for the learner.

Like Daloz, Lois J. Zachary (2000) uses the metaphor of “journey” in her book, called The Mentor’s Guide Facilitating Effective Learning Relationships. During the next few months, I am going to be reflecting on her eight chapters:

Chapter one: Grounding the Work: Focusing on Learning

Chapter two: Working the Ground: Considering Context

Chapter three: To Everything There is a Season: Predictable Phases

Chapter f our: Tilling the Soil: Preparing

Chapter five : Planting Seeds: Negotiating

Chapter six: Nurturing Growth: Enabling

Chapter seven: Reaping the Harvest: Coming to Closure

Chapter eight: Regenerating Personal Growth Through Mentoring

Chapter One:

The in-depth project focuses on the learner and the direct experience.  Berends (1990) writes, “Everything that happens to you is your teacher.”  The mentee is an active partner and the mentor is a facilitator.  The learning process is self-directed and the mentee is responsible for their own learning.  The length of the relationship between the mentee and mentor depends on the goal not the calendar.  There will be many mentors over a life time andpossibly multiple ones for one project!  The relationship is not limited to face to face interactions even though there is a lot to be said for this approach.  For example, we gain tacit knowledge, not easily taught, by working alongside a mentor over long periods of time.  It is process-oriented supported with critical reflections, such as edublog posts, and applications beyond traditional schooling (Zachery, 2000).

The mentor and mentee relation is a learning journey for both partners. Our past and current experiences shape who we are and would like to become.   It is about self-discovery and learning. Helgeson (1995) writes about personal ecology and a web of relationships. I am a daughter, a sister, an aunt, a god mother, a teacher, a snowshoe-er, a gardener, a kayaker, a pianist, to list just a few.  In these diverse roles, I relate to various people in various situations.   The mentor and mentee form another relationship in this complex web of relationships they already have with others.

Another concept frequently mentioned in the Talons room is the notion of facilitation rather than teaching.  The facilitator, or mentor, in this case, must

  1. create an effective learning environment
  2. involve the learner in planning and what they  are going to learn
  3. encourage the mentee to design their own learning contract/ plan
  4. support the learners to find their own resources and accomplish their objectives
  5. and finally, help the learners to implement and evaluate their own learning (Zachary, 2000)

Throughout this entire process, the mentee, the learner, will self-reflect as part of their learning cycle.

Something happens? –> What happens?–> So what? –> Now what? –> Something happens? and so on.

The mentor will need to be aware of the following guidelines:

  1. How fast the mentee’s learning should progress?
  2. When should the mentor intervene?
  3. How best to collaborate with the mentee?
  4. How to keep the focus on the learning process?
  5. How to set up the best environment for learning?
  6. How to structure the learning relationship and process?

Zachary (2000) concludes in chapter one, “The role of the mentor is to facilitate learning in such a way that the knowledge, skills, or competencies connect to action in the present and possibly in the future.  This requires building on the learner’s experience, providing a conducive environment for learning, and appropriately challenging, supporting, and providing vision for the learner” (p. 28).

Questions to think about for your post #2:

  1. How did your mentor gain their experience/ expertise?
  2. What were those experiences like for your mentor?
  3. What wisdom have you gained from your mentor so far?
  4. What have you learned so far, in terms of facilitation strategies, that might contribute to your own development as a mentor?

Quirien Mulder ten Kate