When is a Talking Mat truly a Talking Mat?
Thank you to Joan Murphy and Jill Bradshaw for this blog that demonstrates the criteria required for a Talking Mat to be a Talking Mat.
Talking Mats is now an established tool to help people express their views but the way in which is it used can vary and, at times, practitioners may adopt a ‘Talking Mats approach’ which is not truly a Talking Mat.
One of the activities of the Talking Mats Research Network was to establish the criteria which define a ‘true’ Talking Mat and we hope this blog will help clarify that.
The main components of a Talking Mat are
- A space to display the symbols – physical or digital
- A Top Scale
- A Topic for discussion
- Options which relate to the Topic.
In addition, the Research Network identified the following 3 main criteria to verify a Talking Mat:
- Are open questions used within the Talking Mat? For example, ‘How do you feel about x?’ rather than ‘Do you like x ?’ Sorting options into categories is not a true Talking Mat.
- Is the top-scale consistent with Talking Mats principles? The top scale needs to be such that thinkers are able to use the top-scale for reflection when asked an open question relating to a particular option.
3. Is the purpose of the Talking Mat to gain views on a particular topic or issue? The Talking Mat needs to be used in a way that provides an opportunity for the thinker to give their views about the topic. Of course, people with more complex communication challenges may not provide any additional information about their views, other than placing the symbol. However, if the placement of the option is used as a potential opportunity for a discussion, then this can be seen as a Talking Mat.
Further explanation can be found here
Training in Talking Mats covers the criteria and how to achieve it in more detail and is always advised to use this innovative tool to it’s full potential.