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.


– Australia 2006

In 2006, Victoria became the first Australian state to put thinking as a core subject on the curriculum as part of the Victorian Education Learning Standards (VELS) curriculum from Level 1 to Level 6. Other states have followed. Many schools and universities around Australia, like Melbourne Grammar School and Victoria University are already teaching ‘thinking’ as a core subject.

– USA 1982

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 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. 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.

17 thoughts on “CORE SUBJECT: Teaching THINKING in Schools and Universities

  1. You could definitely see your expertise in the paintings you write. The sector hopes for more passionate writers such as you who are not afraid to mention how they believe. All the time follow your heart.

  2. It would be nice to think that teaching thinking in school’s can become a meme – one that takes on it’s own life and can eventually be spread with a bit of wombat marketing. Hopefully in time for my little one (currently 2) to take advantage of it.

  3. Is there anyway a person who has left school and get access to the materials – There is limited schools in Sydney that provide the CORE thinking subjects and yet I would like to provide the learning to myself and my 10, 15, 17, & 18 year old kids.

  4. Really all of us need to get hold of our mind and direct it propertly for our survival in this world of ours therefor learning to think should be primary odjective of every individual should consider(not as insult as may be conside in ghana).

  5. India needs a School of Thinking in each district of each States in India.
    Please help in building such School in India. I am doing efforts in this direction.

  6. Thinking is a skill. All skills require training. Thinking is in no way any different to any other skill, concept or important learning consideration. Thinking to think and then thinking about which thinking skill or strategy to employ requires much practice, repetition and rehearsal. The big brain train is a great idea. In the years that I have focused on thinking with an equal sense of educational importance, I have discovered that if one person in isolation makes a committed effort it can make a difference. If many people work together for a common cause and with a common language then Australian schools will notice a huge difference. What is more important is that maybe the biggest difference could be seen in the improved decision making performed by a generation that seems to lack, respect, responsibility and consideration for too many things. Thinking is already in the curriculum, but I question the effectiveness and the specific importance that is required to make that significant difference to the individual, to the family and to the community.

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