8. The Synectic Model For Teaching English

13 05 2010

[Originally published in  ELT Chat  of  http://www.Free_esl.com]



What are Models of Teaching?

Models of teaching were identified and described for the first time by Bruce Joyce and Marsha Weil (1980). They defined a model as: “A model of teaching is a set of inter-related components arranged in a sequence which provides guidelines to realize a specific goal.  It helps the designing instructional activities and provides an environment carrying out these activities in order to realize the stipulated objectives”. 

Models of teaching afford a lively and proactive introduction to the complexities of teaching. A teaching model is not a substitute for teaching skill. A model cannot take the place of fundamental qualities in a teacher, such as, knowledge of subject matter, creativity and sensitivity to people. But it is a good tool to help good teachers to teach more effectively by making their teaching more systematic and efficient.

 In very simple terms ‘Models of teaching’ are a pattern or plan which can be used to shape a curriculum or course to select instructional materials and to guide a teacher’s action. Models are primarily oriented towards a classroom teacher who is interested in increasing his instructional effectiveness in an interactive method of teaching. A teaching model can be considered as a type of blue print for teaching. It provides structure and direction for the teacher. In short ‘Models’ are perspective teaching-strategies designed to accomplish particular instructional goals.

Synectic Model

In 1961, William .J.Gordon and his associates designed  a very interesting and delightful experience to the development of innovations  known as Synectics. The model was originally designed to form ‘creativity groups’ in industrial and other organizations to solve problems, to develop quality products.

Characteristics of  Gordon’s Model 

* According to this model creativity is important in everyday activities. Gordon’s model is designed to increase problem solving , creative expression , empathy and insight into social relations.

*Second, the creative process is not at all mysterious . It can be described, and it is possible to train persons directly to increase their creativity. (Traditionally creativity is viewed as a mysterious innate and personal capacity)

*Third , creative invention is similar in all fields- the arts, the sciences, engineering and is characterized by the same underlying intellectual processes.

*Gordon’s fourth  assumption is that individual and group invention (creative thinking ) are very similar .Individuals and groups generate ideas and products in much the same fashion.

 In school systems the main technique used is analogy. The child is lead into an  ‘imaginary/ illogical world’ to see things never seen before to express himself in novel ways, to approach problems from a different angle which is entirely different from others as is perceived by the mind’s eye through ‘fresh ways of thinking’. He has to express his ideas clearly and also grasp ideas clearly and comprehensively.

Steps of the Model to be followed in the Classroom

  1. Describe the topic
  2. Create direct analogies
  3. Describe personal analogies
  4. Identify compressed conflicts
  5. Create new direct analogy
  6. Re-examine the original topic
  7. Evaluate

Step I : The teacher asks the students to describe a given topic. This can be done orally or the students can write down the topic. Descriptive words are then listed on the board.

 Example: The topic is ‘Feelings’

Descriptive words: love, hate, anger, sadness, guilt, happy, remorse, joy, satisfaction etc.

Step II Students examine the descriptive words and form analogies between the words and an unrelated category such as plants, animals or machines. After all students have given an analogy, the best one is voted on by the class.

Example: Think of a plant that reminds you of the listed words.

Analogies:         ‘A rose reminds me of Love’

                        ‘ Jasmine reminds me of Valentines’ Day  and happiness’

                        ‘Lily reminds me of death and sadness.’

Step III: The teacher asks students to think about how he/she would feel to be the object chosen in Step II. Students must also tell why they have that particular feeling.

Students responses are recorded.

Example: How would it feel to be a ‘Rose’?

Responses: alive, happy, safe, smelled, plucked, ignored, curdled, held on, dead, recognized, good, loved, bad, crushed.

Step IV: The students are asked to review their responses to find pairs of words which seem to ‘fight’ or are in opposition to one another.

The class votes for the pair of words that represent the best compressed-conflict.

Example: ignored- loved , good- bad, happy- sad, alive-dead,   held on- crushed

Step V: The teacher asks for another category for a direct analogy and the class must think of example of that category which are best described by the compressed category chosen in Step IV.

Example: “Animal” is the analogy, “alive- dead’ are the characteristics.

Direct Analogies: lion, dog, cat, bear, dinosaur etc.

Step VI: The class talks about the original topic by comparing the last direct analogy to the original topic New images are created.

Example “Feelings are like lions. They are alive but, sometimes appear to be dead.” “Feelings are like Roses and Lilies. Sometimes they make you happy and some times they make you sad”.

Step VII: Students evaluate the writing done before and after the model to see if more creative insight has been added. The must also analyse the thought process involved.

Tips for the Teacher:

* Create direct analogies: What words have the same or similar meaning?(try synonyms)

* Describe personal analogies: What would it feel like to have the characteristics or traits of —–?( describe emotions and physical attributes)

* Identify compressed conflicts; What words have the opposite meaning or characteristics? (Use antonyms)

* Create new direct analogy: What words have the similar or same meaning?

This repeats the prompt from the second step. The difference after going through the first three lists you will have gone deeper into the subject and this list will reflect that depth.


* Look at all the four steps and find key words or phrases, expand on those to generate more. Finally, focus on a theme that may incorporate several elements based on the final list.




6 responses

11 09 2011
Sylvester J. Cielo

This is so useful . . Thanks a lot!

12 11 2011
Prof. Mehraj ud Din Dar

Very Useful for me…I am teaching it in B.Ed. Course..

13 02 2012

Thanks for the help! I’m teaching a lesson using the Synectic teaching model.

22 02 2012

good. very helpful for handling the session – models of teaching

15 09 2012

thanks a lot…….
I like it

5 01 2015
Dilaram bhandari

thanks very much

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: