Teaching thinking in USA schools: what are the results?

37 years ago, School of Thinking initiated the nationwide Learn-To-Think Project in the USA: to put thinking on the school curriculum as a school subject.

What have been the results?

Now that kids have their daily thinking lessons are they any better off? Are they better thinkers? Do they make better decisions? Not just in school but in life?

The answer is: YES. The trend is positive. The kids are alright.


We know this because every two years, the federal government asks thousands of teenagers dozens of questions about whether they are all right. Since 1991, it has sent something called the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey to more than 10,000 high school students every other year, to inquire about all sorts of bad behaviors that range from drug use to unprotected sex to fighting at school.

The overarching question this survey asks is basically: How much trouble are you getting into?

The answer, lately, has been, “Not that much at all” – especially when you compare today’s teens with their parents, who came of age in the early 1990s.

Most of the survey questions show that today’s teenagers are among the best-behaved on record. They smoke less, drink less, and have sex less than the previous generation. It seems they are, comparatively, a milder-mannered bunch.

Explore the data

Teen behavior in… 1991 2013
Regularly wear a seat belt 74.1 92.4
Ever tried alcohol 81.6 66.2
Ever tried a cigarette 70.1 44.1
Used a condom during last sexual intercourse 46.2 59.1
Ever had sex 54.1 46.8
Tried marijuana 31.3 40.7
Had sex within the last 3 months 37.5 34
Ever been in a physical fight 42.5 24.7
Drank 5 or more drinks in a row in past month 31.3 20.8
Smoke cigarettes 27.5 15.7
Seriously considered a suicide attempt in past year 29 17
Tried cocaine 5.9 5.5

4 thoughts on “Teaching thinking in USA schools: what are the results?

  1. Far too many teenagers and adults are spending lots of time alone on their dumb phones escaping reality to have time for a good relationship or have sex. Many believe what they see and hear in the media. However, what could possibly be worse is believing in the polls and surveys.

    Survey the teachers who were around in 1991 to present if their is an improvement in teenage behavior? The answer is no and does not match the government’s survey.

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