Can you have your cake and eat it?
Not normally but in class you can and as often as you like.
One of the cracking ideas you will find in Jason Buckley’s (aka The Philosophy Man) cracking book Thinkers’ Games: Making Thinking Physical is something called Concept Cake.
The idea is this. Take a concept such as teamwork which is made up of several ingredients. In small groups of 5-7, each pupil writes down what they consider a vital ingredient in teamwork on a mini-whiteboard.
- Effective communication
- Skilled conflict management
Each group then show and share their ingredients with the class and say why that particular ingredient is important. As a group, can they agree with each other and the choices made?
The other groups then take their turn to share what they think are the important elements. Ask the class:
- Are there any similarities?
- What are the differences?
- Are there any crucial omissions?
- What are the main talking points and bones of contention?
- Did the group itself work as a team and what qualities surfaced as a result of doing the exercise?
- Does the cake contain different layers and if so, how many and what teamwork qualities are they?
The ideas can be mixed together, represented as slices and then displayed as a cake so that everyone can appreciate the different parts.
But don’t stop there. Ask plenty more questions:
- Are there some slices that are more important than others and thus ‘must haves’?
- Are the slices in a teamwork concept cake the same size? Do they need to be?
- Would all teams value the same ingredients and size of slices devoted to particular ingredients?
- Who decides what goes into a concept cake and how often should the ingredients be reviewed?
- Does a concept cake need an executive chef to decide what is important or should the cake be a democratic decision?
- Can there every be a recipe for teamwork that would be suitable for different groups of people working in very different contexts?
- Can you find out what the teamwork ingredients are for different organisation? e.g. The British Army, Toyota, Google etc. Are there any ‘universals’?
Concept cakes can work well across the curriculum and really get everyone participating and contributing. Importantly, they encourage all students to think, argue and reason professionally with each other.