Bird Watching Method

The next method DeBono describes is the birdwatching method. These method allows us to spot patterns and phenomenons. When using this method we can also frame our observations so that they are merely a different way of being right or wrong. For example: when a learner looks at a situation they may use an entirely different classification system to the one we’d imagined. This tells us something about how they are observing the situation. It doesn’t mean their classification is “wrong”, it simply means they are using different categories than the ones we’ve identified.

Birdwatching method allows you to identify common traits so you can "see" patterns and the generic form of the pattern.For example: You’ve spotted a bird. You classify the bird as being a type of duck, but on further examination, the bird is actually a swan. Does that mean you were wrong? Not really. It just means you’ve identified your bird using the higher order classification of Anatidae, which includes swans, geese and ducks.

To help learners use this framework we need to identify:

  • the desired destination for the classification (swans vs. ducks; not black vs. white)
  • common traits or patterns that can be used for classification (neck length relative to head size; not colour)
  • traits and patterns that are unique within a classification (bird colour can change; body shape must be consistent within a group)

The birdwatching method is useful when we need to judge and classify. Can you think of places where you could establish a simple birdwatching method for your learners? (The obvious one that comes to mind in teaching Drupal: is how to evaluate a new module before installing it; design patterns in software design; or perhaps when debugging code.)

see image.