Give it a WhiRL!

Updated: Feb 7, 2020

Whatever we're thinking or planning, we can always up our game a little by adding other elements, looking at things from a different direction (using our Forget-Me-Not ADDA - Alternative Angles, Different Directions) or considering WHY we have chosen a particular plan of action.

Give it a WhiRL! is a Forget-Me-Not that we have devised to encourage our youngsters to consider things carefully from a number of different - and sometimes competing - standpoints. It doesn't tell them which option to use, or which is more valued or valuable - it's just there to make them think about their choice(s) and why they are making it (them).

We took inspiration for it from Aristotle, who lived over 2,000 years ago, and his Ethos, Pathos and Logos - what he called the three artistic proofs - in Rhetoric. Aristotle (and other Greeks such as Socrates and Plato) were using these proofs in the rhetorical sense as a means of persuasion, where a speaker would deliberately choose their words to appeal to one of the three elements in particular.

Ethos, which gives us the word ethical, is where the speaker tries to persuade the audience in terms of his credibility - so you might imagine a speech by Bill Gates, where he speaks of the technological advances he has been part of, and his achievements (and thus would be the perfect person to spearhead a new computing initiative). A classic example of Pathos, where the speaker appeals to the emotions, is Martin Luther King Jr's 'I have a Dream'. Logos is the appeal to reason and logic, to facts and figures, so might appear in a speech by Brian Cox on how the universe works.

Here at Got-A-Head®, we've taken those ideas and put our own spin on it (excuse the pun!), so that the 'audience' is actually the child him/herself. What arguments could they put forward in any of those three categories to help them decide on a plan of action? Let's look at each of the three areas and we'll show you what we mean.


Of the three proofs, this is the one that gave us the most problems just because how the Greeks used it is so very different from our idea. For us, this is far more about morality than credibility. This isn't about 'would you buy a used car from this salesman?' so much as 'is that car his to sell?' This is all about applying 21st century rules and considerations rather than the Athenian ones from long ago. For instance, the child may have a great idea, but is it ethical? We want him or her to ask 'Is it Right?' Should I be doing this? Will my choice harm anyone else? Is it legal or illegal or somehow dodgy? It's the old 'may I?' rather than 'can I?' distinction that your granny used to make.


Let's face it, we all prefer to do the things we want to do, rather than the things we don't. We will frequently judge something (or someone!) based on how we feel about them rather than rely on facts. Children can be particularly prone to this. Aristotle reassures us that there isn't anything inherently wrong with this (appealing to the emotions is an incredibly powerful argument) - BUT, and it's a big BUT, we need to be aware that that is what we are doing. By extension, we need to appreciate that we can sometimes choose things for the wrong reasons. When we get the child to ask: "Do I Like it?", we're getting them to consider whether there is an emotional reason for making a choice. We're not saying NOT to choose a particular line of action (it might be exactly the right thing for them to do), but to be AWARE that they are choosing it for emotional rather than moral or logical reasons.


Facts and figures, data, existing knowledge, reason and logic - these are what we would use to answer the question "Will it Work?" The child is encouraged to take a rational stance to decide whether their idea is feasible or just hot air. This idea or plan is still just a possibility at this point, but they need to consider whether there is real evidence to support the idea.


There was a fourth element that could be used in speeches: Kairos. This was to persuade the audience that the time was right for action, that it was an opportune moment for something to be considered. When you bear in mind that the Athenians might have been heading off to war at any moment and often needed to act quickly for a successful resolution or to win a battle, you can quite see why they might have considered this a vital argument. For our 8-to-14-year-olds, however, we felt it a lot less important so didn't include it here.

We took the original Ethos (Is it Right?), Pathos (Do I Like it?)and Logos (Will it Work?) order and mixed it up to give an easier acronym for the children to remember, which is how we ended up with Give it a WhiRL!

Actually, you could use Give it a WhiRL! in a number of ways, from making a quick decision on something to deciding on key elements of a longer-term project. However, we see two primary uses for it:

  1. In the Rank stage of QWERTY®, when the Learner is trying to decide which Explore item(s) s/he should go for. By asking each of the Give it a WhiRL! questions in turn (Will it Work? Is it Right? Do I Like it?), the child can develop a clearer idea of which order to put things in and why.

  2. In the YaY! stage, the child will use Gave it a WhiRL! to look back and evaluate how their plan worked, and what elements of it (reason, ethics or feelings) made it succeed or fail.

image of fidget-spinner with three questions
You can use Gave it a WhiRL! to evaluate success or failure on the three fronts

As with much of the Got-A-Head®? material, although this Forget-Me-Not can be used independently, its true strength is in its combination or synergy with other things. Firstly, using it within a technique such as QWERTY®, but then combining it with other Forget-Me-Nots such as P!C, Whose Views?, Weigh to Go or Key Features.

Give it a WhiRL! is quite distinct from P!C (where they consider the pros, cons and interesting elements of something). As we said above, both Forget-Me-Nots could be used alone. However, using them in conjunction with each other can give a much more robust rationale for decision-making. The Learner can decide why they consider something is positive or negative, or what it is that makes something interesting.

graphic representing P!C - Pros, Cons, Interesting
Consider the positive, negative and interesting elements of something

Similarly, if you combined Whose Views? with the emotional element of Give it a WhiRL! the Learner is encouraged to consider not just whether s/he likes something, but if other people would too. They can then take that on a stage further by asking whose feelings should be given priority in this particular scenario.

graphic of an optical illusion showing a vase and two female profiles
Whose views gets you to consider all the views that matter on a topic - including your own.

In a logical scenario, when considering whether something would work, Weigh to Go (where the child considers the nature and relative importance of items to help them decide on a course of action) would be a natural partner for Give it a WhiRL! to help them give a much more considered response to their original question.

Key Features (where the Learner considers the essence of an object - or a plan) could also combine with Give it a WhiRL! to help their decision-making process. It could be used to help them decide whether or not something is likely to work, or has the necessary attributes they are seeking. It could equally help them decide which parts of the object/plan they like or should (or should not!) be using.

Using Give it a WhiRL! can be as simple as mentioning it to the Learner or showing them the Forget-Me-Not 'card' (which you can print off from our resources page) as a visual aid. Equally, if you have a fidget-spinner in the house, given that they were all the rage just a short time ago, you could blu-tack our question templates over each circle so they can literally Give it a WhiRL! Alternatively, you could make your own Give it a WhiRLer! using the template from our resources page.

Image of fidget spinner with word labels
Use Give it a WhiRL! to consider things from different standpoints, both as future plans and to evaluate things that have already happened

With all of these things, as with so much of what we do at Got-A-Head®?, the key is in getting the child to Stop! Think! and ask as many questions as possible.

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