I first read about “Integrative Thinking” in this article by Katrina Schwartz on Mindshift. The article outlines three thinking/problem-solving tools that are taught through the I-Think Initiative at University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management: Ladder of Inference, Pro/Pro, and Causal Models. Integrative Thinking involves using these tools and others to consider solutions for problems by thinking about other perspectives as well as metacognition.
What fascinates me about the examples in Schwartz’ article is that these methods are being taught to students as young as first grade, and the students are applying them in productive ways that could be useful to many adults. By becoming aware of how our own experiences can funnel our inferences and assumptions, and deliberately trying to reach outside of these, we are able to think more creatively. It seems like a monumental task, especially for students who are still learning how to read, but it can be done.
You can view an interesting Ted Ed video on the “Ladder of Inference,” embedded within Schwartz’s article, that gives a great example of how we often use the ladder to our detriment. Teachers who have been trained by through the I-Think Initiative give other examples of how the thinking tools have made dramatic differences in their classrooms.
As we continue to prepare our students for the future, I think that it’s imperative that we teach them metacognition and offer them critical thinking methods that will help them to be problem-solvers who can adapt to the fast-paced world in which they will eventually become the decision-makers.