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Updated: Feb 28, 2020


In this post, I would like to introduce a new method of teaching which I have developed and used with high levels of success over the past two to three years. I call this method "The Multiple Transformational Handshakes Method" (MTHM). In origin, MTHM is a reaction to or a correction of traditional and outdated teaching and learning practices. What I mean by this is that teachers conventionally teach around a text, and ask lots of questions on the gist, supporting ideas, word meanings, cohesive devices, wh questions on who does what, where, when, who with, etc. They may also do matching, gap filling, sentence ordering, summaries, paraphrasing, etc. I do not wish to belittle the value of such exercises, but to me, these kinds of questions are not more discrete points the sum-total of which does not necessarily constitute the whole text. Learners' handshake with the materials remains superficial and not intense enough.

What MTHM proposes is to create an opportunity for a much firmer and deeper handshake with the text leading eventually to learners being able to not only understand the text in question, but go many steps beyond and produce a suite of other products or interpretations of the text that constitute original, innovative responses to the text. The recreated texts have the merit that they give learners a strong sense of empowerment and ownership of the final product. That learners author and give birth to an innovative product is to me an index of deep learning and a genuine exercise in expression, self-expression, and liberation.


I will start out by surveying the ideas, theories and practices that inspired me to develop this method of teaching. These ideas do not all come from pyscholinguistics. Some emanate from the field organizational decision making, others from the domain of education, while others can be traced back to the domain of architecture. All of them, though, are concerned with making things, knowledge and thinking processes more easily and readily accessible to people in general and to learners in particular. A total of five frames are briefly presented below.

  1. Howard Gardner’s 1983 Book, Frames of Mind. This book is on multiple intelligences and has its roots in organizational productivity and cognitive science. It stresses eight intelligences: linguistic, logical-mathematical, spatial, musical, bodily-kinesthetic, naturalistic , interpersonal, and intrapersonal (Visser, Ashton, & Vernon, 2004). Using these eight types of intelligence, each team member can make a unique contribution and enhance productivity and decision making processes at the level of the organization.

  2. De Bono's Six Thinking hats. In business management contexts, team members are encouraged to wear different hats so they look at a problem from a wid