Lateral thinking gives you more.

More options. More hope. More mindfulness. More choices. More solutions. More value. More resilience. More ideas. More opportunities. More wellness. More resources. More futures. More happiness. More income. More customers. More revenues. More savings.

The numerical synonym for lateral thinking is x10 thinking.

Although x10 thinking, lateral thinking, is not natural for humans it can be taught and learned.

Lateral thinking (x10 thinking) is our best tool for creating value, our best hope for solving wicked problems, our best defense against imagined fears, fear of mistakes, fear of failure in career, business or job-related situations, fear of family crises, relationship conflicts, social media, fear of political or global issues etc etc etc.

 

Intelligence is something we are born with. Lateral thinking is a skill that must be learned. – Professor Edward de Bono

There is nothing on Earth more powerful than lateral thinking. – Dr Michael Hewitt-Gleeson

 

Lateral thinking gives you more …

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Wealth

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Health

Productivity

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Security

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Lateral thinking makes you better …

 

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Wealth: Better decisions = better bank balance

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. Lateral thinking will make you better.

 

Health: Poorer choices = poorer health

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 weak your future cannot be strong. Lateral thinking will make you better.

 

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Productivity: Faster strategies = faster results

The possibilities, options, strategies, tactics, pathways, networks and environments that are available for you to think about will either accelerate or inhibit your own personal productivity and results. Lateral thinking will make you better.

 

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Security: Deeper thinking = deeper security

Your survival and growth, in a darwinian sense, cannot be separated from how you make your decisions over time. If you don’t do your own 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. Lateral thinking will make you better.

 

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To each and every one of our engaging and inspiring SOT thinkers we wish you a very happy, heart-warming and relaxing Holiday.

I suppose one day I’ll find and even better version of Sleigh Ride but until then here’s my favourite thundering and virtuoso version of the classic with the King of Instruments, and the peerless Cameron Carpenter

Just imagine if schools engaged students with performing skills and virtuosity instead of cramming their heads with information and data. However, if we want that we will need not only teachers who KNOW but also masters who DO!

2018 marked the 30th Anniversary of the School of Thinking 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”


How it all got started in New York in 1979 …

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.


 

What is the most wicked problem in the world?

It’s a wicked problem that’s a hundred times bigger than the problem of global warming and many orders of magnitude greater than the problems of global health, water or population. It’s also the greatest opportunity on earth!

The problem is: human thinking.

A wicked problem is one which cannot be solved using human logic, our current and dominant way of thinking.

The rapid acceleration of global climate change, the unprecedented scale of the nuclear threat and the rising hegemony of artificial intelligence are all examples of wicked problems that cannot be solved with human logic.

At the level of human2human relationships, many causes of daily conflict are not solved but even exacerbated by binary I-am-right-and-you-are-wrong logic-style thinking.

Logic is natural to the human brain’s limbic system because it is driven by the emotion of fear. In particular, the fear of ‘mistakes’ and the fear of ‘surprise’.

In contrast, lateral thinking is not natural to the human brain. It is counter-intuitive. It requires re-wiring. Rather like driving a car, It must be acquired as a skill with at least ten hours of deliberate practise and repetition over time.

Since artificial intelligence can now do logic much faster than human intelligence, lateral thinking is a skill that we should be teaching our children … because they are going to need it!