Teaching Thinking


The biggest errors in human thinking are not due to logical errors, but rather through perceptive errors—because we do not consider the entire situation. 

Typical errors that create misunderstanding and conflict are (1) a partial consideration of a situation; (2) forming an initial opinion and using logic to confirm the quick judgment; and (3) deriving “truths” from extreme situations.

“Teaching Thinking” is split into two parts. The first part shows the need for teaching thinking as a skill, by highlighting the value of thinking, the lack of training in thinking, and the typical errors we make. The second part shares practical support for teachers who want to train their students in thinking. If you’re looking for a book with practical exercises to improve your thinking—as I was—you may find De Bono’s “Six Thinking Hats” more valuable. Also, look into De Bono’s CoRT thinking handbooks.

What do I hope to remember and apply after reading this book?

Thinking systems can be a powerful tool to explore situations, rather than judge them.

Interesting thinking exercises:

  • PMI—write down all Pluses, Minuses, and Interesting observations
  • CAF—Consider All Factors
  • OPV—Other People’s Viewpoints
  • EBS—Examine Both Sides of the argument

Anecdotes or passages worth sharing:

Thinking as a two-finger skill

"Many people who teach themselves to type early in life learn to type with two fingers. This is because they do not set out to learn typing as such but to use typing in their work. With two fingers they can more quickly acquire a tolerable level of competence than if they tried to develop skill with all ten fingers. So they learn a two-finger skill, that is to say a level of skill adequate to cope with their immediate needs. […] Prejudice gives instant judgment and decision and quick reactions. It is only in a wider context that prejudice is seen as a failure of thinking skill. In the same way, two-finger typing is a skill, and yet in a wider context two-finger typing is a block to developing further skills."

“Logical errors make for bad thinking. But the opposite is not true: that freedom from logical error makes for good thinking.”