In April 2018, the Prime Minister of Australia, Malcolm Turnbull, announced his government is now backing ‘teaching thinking skills in schools’ as outlined in his latest review of schooling (Gonski 2018).

Malcolm Turnbull will tell Australian schools that they need to step up.

This is good news. I think it is very good news because the School of Thinking (SOT) has been promoting this idea of ‘teaching CRITICAL THINKING SKILLS in schools’ around the world for 35 years.

SOT’s original mission was the Learn-To-Think Project began in 1980 “to teach critical thinking as a skill in schools”.

SOT’s long-term, sustained effort has meant dealing in the USA and Australia with many foundations, government and educational institutions, corporations publishers and media in Washington and Canberra and also with individual educators, parents and students in 45 countries around the world. It’s an interesting story.

Here’s how the ‘critical thinking’ meme actually went viral in the USA in 1983.

At that time, an invitation arrived from the University/Urban Schools National Task Force to speak at their last quarterly conference in San Francisco.

This was a task force of school district superintendents from major American cities – Dallas, New York, San Francisco, Chicago etc. and was headed by CUNY’s Dr. Richard Bossone.

Dr. Bossone told me that their grant had run out and San Francisco was to be their last meeting as they had lost their raison d’etre and after the San Francisco conference, the task force would fold. He invited me to talk about the SOTs activities and our idea of ‘teaching thinking in schools’.

Our presentation was a big hit and as a result they passed a motion that their new raison d’etre would be to promote the teaching of thinking skills and they would apply to have their grant renewed.

Dr. Bossone was successful in getting the University/Urban Schools National Task Force grant renewed and he immediately convened a special conference In San Juan, Puerto Rico to focus only on teaching thinking in US schools.

I was once again invited to open the conference and give the keynote address, “Teaching Critical Thinking Skills in Schools”.

At this conference the leaders of education in the US including Dr. Frank Macchiarola, Chancellor, New York City Public Schools, and Mr. Gene Maeroff, President, New York Times Foundation and Dean of Education Journalists. Gene Maeroff’s presence was strategically important because his was the top voice on education trends in America.

In a long afternoon discussion by the pool in San Juan I explained to Gene how metacognition can actually be taught as a skill in ten hours of training and showed Gene the cvs2bvs brain software which we were using with corporations like GE and IBM. Gene became genuinely excited by the idea of teaching kids to think critically for themselves.

This later turned out to be a highly valuable conversation.

Like the New York Times theatre critic who can make or close a Broadway show in one article, what Gene Maeroff writes in the Education Supplement of the New York Times, inevitably comes to pass. Gene was very impressed with the San Juan discussions and also the financial commitments given to the task force so in a special two-full page pull-out feature he subsequently wrote:

“Teaching to think: A new emphasis at schools and colleges A major new effort to teach thinking skills is planned by the University/Urban Schools National Task Force, which will soon initiate a program in the public schools of New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Detroit, Minneapolis and Memphis. The College Board will provide $300,000 for the project… The School of Thinking in New York is the base in this country for teaching de Bono’s theory, disseminated from its headquarters in London, which includes breaking out of traditional thinking patterns. This means trying to devise new ways of looking at problems … it affirms the belief that without specific efforts there is no assurance students will learn to think laterally.”

(New York Times: Education Winter Survey. January 9, 1983.)

This was the story that was taken up by the press around the nation and a new fad was created – teaching thinking as a skill.

The media have been generous in supporting SOT and its activities, and as a group, journalists deserve a lot of the credit for SOTs success in achieving its mission.

Within a year from that New York Times story, we had accomplished our mission of getting thinking into US schools.

The Australian Prime Minister’s announcement supports the fact that ‘teaching thinking in schools’ is still an educational trend that is continuing and is very unlikely to stop or unhappen in the future.

When was SOT founded in Australia?

Prime Minister Bob Hawke at SOT launch in Canberra, 1988, with SOT Principal Dr Michael Hewitt-Gleeson

On 30 May 1988 in Canberra the School of Thinking was officially launched in Australia by Dr Michael Hewitt-Gleeson in the presence of the then Governor General of Australia, His Excellency Sir Ninian Stephan AK GCMB GCVO KBE, at the Bi-Centennial Convention of 600 of Australia’s commonwealth, state and municipal statespeople.

After his foundation address, in which Dr Hewitt-Gleeson challenged that “critical thinking” as a school subject should be put on the curriculum for every school in Australia, Sir Ninian stood and said to Dr Hewitt-Gleeson, “You have just given the best keynote address I have ever heard!”

Sir Ninian was then presented with a Clever Brainusers Software Kit by Dr Hewitt-Gleeson.

Next to speak was the Prime Minister of Australia at the time and Rhodes scholar, The Honourable Robert J Hawke AC, GCL who commended Dr Hewitt-Gleeson for this initiative and agreeing,

No longer content to be just the lucky country, Australia must now become the clever country!

Prime Minister Hawke was then presented with a School of Thinking certificate by Dr Hewitt-Gleeson proclaiming him to be “Australia’s Number One Clever Brainuser” and to symbolise the vast potential of the power of Australia’s 16 million brains.

The historic event was reported in Australia’s largest circulation newspaper, The Sun – (Melbourne, Australia, Fri May 27, 1988): “The education for 600 of Australia’s notable statesmen will begin on Monday (30 May 1988) when Dr Michael Hewitt-Gleeson delivers the keynote address “TEACHING CRITICAL THINKING IN AUSTRALIAN SCHOOLS” at the Bicentennial National Congress in Canberra.”

“The Clever Country” mission of the School of Thinking has been to get critical thinking taught on the Australian school curriculum as a core subject.

“If Dr Hewitt-Gleeson has his way, Australian schoolchildren will, by 1992, have the study (of thinking) as much a part of their curriculum as the traditional subjects of maths and English,” recorded Australian author, Peter Fitzimons, in the Sydney Morning Herald (Wednesday September 5, 1990).

In his book, Clever (1993), Dr Hewitt-Gleeson wrote,

If we are to become a clever country and ensure our economic future and our stability as a nation, we may have to focus more on the productivity and potential of Australians as individual thinkers. As a national service, to provide training in thinking to every Australian would be less than the cost of one army tank!

The motto of the School of Thinking is

Nemo Nascitur Sapiens Artifex

“No-one is ever born a skilled thinker”

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NEW COURSE: Ten Thinking Emojis

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http://images.all-free-download.com/images/graphiclarge/magnifying_glass_vector_287113.jpg Be forensic

Is it true? Fact check. Search more information. Facts and figures. True news or fake news? When you post this emoji you just give neutral information. You are not polarised or biased. You are a sort of wikipedia. Just get the facts out. Give all the information you can on the current situation. Be forensic.

http://d2trtkcohkrm90.cloudfront.net/images/emoji/apple/ios-10/256/top-hat.png Be judgmental

Be Negative. Think inside the box. Use Black Hat thinking. Say why you think it’s wrong. Why it won’t work. Why it’s not true. Why you do not believe it or do not agree with it. Note that if you’re simply being emotional then that comes under another emoji. Be judgmental.

Image result for emoji comedy tragedy masks Be emotional

This is the emotional emoji. Feelings. The full range from comedy to tragedy. Emotions are important. It is better when they are informing your thinking not just controlling your thinking. Moods are part of life. Are you in an up mood or a down mood? Just say what you feel about the situation without bothering to explain. You hate it. You love it. Say, “I’m being emotional”. Feelings and personal values are part of every situation. Be emotional.

http://d2trtkcohkrm90.cloudfront.net/images/emoji/apple/ios-10/256/money-bag.pngBe generous

American thinker, Mark Twain, said, “Kindness is a language the blind can see and the deaf can hear”. Just because the generous emoji is a bag of cash doesn’t mean it has to be cash. It’s symbolic. It can be time. A ten minute visit to a friend. It can be energy. A good deed or a kind word. Be generous when you can. Offer kindness first. But, no need to be a sucker. Be generous.

https://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/0185/5092/products/objects-0057.png?v=1369543486 Be innovative

This emoji is for creative ideas. The ideas do not have to be sensible or logical. You can use provocations. You can try things out. You can use x10 thinking to escape from the box! The purpose is to have new ideas. Your career, business, investment and commercial success is directly related to the quality of your decisions. Every day you make decisions that will either increase your wealth or decrease your wealth. Every day you do things that either create value or drain value. Be innovative.

Image result for emojis Be cool

This is strategic and laid back. This is detached and objective. Here you are organising your thinking about the situation. Cool is for thinking about your thinking. For giving instructions to yourself and others. Cool is neutral. You can be exploring the subject through the use of the other thinking emojis: Be forensic. Be emotional. Be judgmental etc. The possibilities, options, strategies, tactics, pathways, trajectories, networks and proximities that are available for you to think about will either accelerate or inhibit your own personal productivity and results. Be strategic. Be cool.

Image result for whatsapp emoji umbrella Be wise

Use the crown emoji for The Wisdom of King Solomon or the Wisdom of Queen Elizabeth or any wise person you can find. WISDOM = KNOWLEDGE + EXPERIENCE. Where can we find wisdom? Who has the most knowledge? Who has the most experience? At least 50+ years. Who has seen it all before? Who was there in history? Consequences? Survival? Predictions? Be wise. Or, find someone who is!

Be happy

Modern song lyrics like Pharrell Williams “Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth” and Bobby McFerrins’ “Don’t worry Be Happy” are not new ways of thinking and go back at least 2500 years as far as the Epicureans of Ancient Greece. But humans haven’t changed much since then so it’s still very good advice. Don’t worry. Be happy.

Be healthy

R&R. Rest & Recuperation. Recharge the batteries. Take-it-easy. Your brain is the biggest engine in your body. It consumes more fuel and generates more energy. Give it a rest and a time to recover. Give it a holiday from your screens and your gadgets. Your physical, mental and emotional health cannot be separated from the pattern of choices you make. Every hour of every day you are designing your future. If your designs are tired or weak your future cannot be strong. Be healthy.

Image result for whatsapp emoji umbrella rain Be careful

In today’s world there are BIG issues of privacy and security. Your own privacy. Your own security is at constant risk in the crackling chaos of the internet–the 24/7/365 whirling, howling, cacophonous wilderness of the greedy grasping global marketplace with its siren songs, ferocious fads and hoaxes, toxic wastes and vicious moods, its callous explosions, its viral plagues and epidemics and cruel and sudden extinctions. Your own survival and growth, in a Darwinian sense, cannot be separated from the pattern of how you make your decisions over time. If you don’t do your own better thinking others will do it for you. These other people, institutions or authorities may not do it well at all or even in your best interests. Do be careful.

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Easy instructions on how to use the Ten Thinking Emojis:

• Thinking emojis are always put at the beginning of the text message, not the end.

• Thinking emojis signify a deliberate thinking algorithm for the brain. For example, the looking glass thinking emoji “BE FORENSIC” is an algorithm for the deliberate use of forensic thinking.

• Thinking emojis can be sent to yourself, to others or to groups.
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