Hats off for learning!

June O'Sullivan
Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Summer in the office and many teams are off strategy planning, team building and completing a myriad of personality tools from Birkman to Insights or learning style questionnaires such as Honey and Mumford ready for the strategy implementation in the autumn. Others take a more creative view such as the Spirit Animal Test designed to help you discover your animal spirit. But, in the spirit of Ascot and because I spent a happy couple of hours recently in my sister's friends hat shop I have decided on the Hat Test. Naturally, we are going to abide by the etiquette code of the Royal Enclosure at Ascot so this blog bans fascinators and headpieces displayed here with have the regulatory 10cm solid base.

In 1985, Edward de Bono upgraded hats with his Six Thinking Hats. His hats were no design pieces but a series of clever thinking hats in six colours. White, red, black, yellow, green and blue. The hats are used to request a type of thinking, or used in a sequence to explore a subject or solve a problem. So, to start resolving significant issues such as the review of the early learning goals you might ask the Department for Education for some Yellow Hat thinking. In other words, providing some logic as to why the idea of changing them is useful? Then you may need some Green Hat creativity to look at alternatives. It's all rather lovely and simple and we should use it with four year olds to get them to visualise from an early age. I am sure the government would be delighted to know the benefits of visualisation for reading as it helps create pictures in our minds as we read which helps the comprehension and connects us better with the material.

However, trying hats on in the hat shop was all about having fun, looking ridiculous and imagining where and why we would wear the hats. I picked my favourite ones because of the shape, colour and adornment. But I was quite conservative if you were to look at previous great hat wearers like Queen Elizabeth I, although the current Queen Elizabeth II has more conventional taste with a twist. What makes her choose her hat? Is it the weather, how she feels when she gets up, state of her hair, feeling brave or frivolous, occasion, colour or fashion?

The hat you choose to wear reveals a lot about you. Head-wear is not only functional, but a fashionable accessory that characterises you. It also tells everyone your persona by the type or brand of the hat on your head. Through the 1800s, hats were a part of every dignified gentleman's attire. A man would never depart from his home without a hat on his head. Hats were a symbol of class and occupation, from bowler hats worn by bankers and stockbrokers, to cloth caps sported by manual labourers. Did you know that in the 16th century, in an effort to save a waning wool trade, legislators passed a law requiring all men (excluding noblemen under six years of age) to wear a woollen cap on Sundays and holidays or they would be fined. This cap became an emblem of the working-class society in the 19th and 20th centuries, and maintains popularity these days with many a country folk as well as stylish urbanites. Nowadays hats are just as telling. Remember the beanie, beloved of all those young men who formed a boy band with the help of Simon Cowell and the X Factor design crew. If you wear it at a different angle, rolled forwards or backwards on your head, it will separate you into quite distinct groups.

June O'Sullivan is chief executive of London Early Years Foundation. This blog first appeared on the LEYF website

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