CORE SUBJECT: Teaching THINKING in Schools and Universities
The mission of the School of Thinking is
Teaching the world to think.
A primary strategy, for 30 years, has been:
To get THINKING taught in schools
as a CORE curriculum SUBJECT.
November 17 2009 was the 30th anniversary of the School of Thinking. For 30 years this mission 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.
One day 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 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 teaching thinking. 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 other representatives of various thinking programs were also invited. At thisÂ 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. Mr. Maeroff’s presence was strategically important because his was the top voice on education trends in America. 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 clearly.” (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. This is an educational trend that is very unlikely to stop or unhappen in the future.