Two Nobel Prizes for Thinking

If I were asked to award Nobel Prizes for Thinking, off the top of my head, I’d give one to Edward Charles Francis Publius de Bono, who is today enjoying life in Malta. The other would be given posthumously to a brilliant 17th Century educator from Champagne in France. 

Jean-Baptiste de La Salle was born to the wealthy Moët wine family on April 30, in 1651. A noble family, they ran a successful winery business related, as they were, to Claude Moët, founder of Moët & Chandon.

Edward de Bono is a Maltese physician, psychologist, author, inventor, philosopher and consultant. He originated the term lateral thinking, wrote the book Six Thinking Hats for the teaching of thinking as a subject in schools. Born in Malta on 19 May 1933 a few years before WWII. He was educated at St. Edward’s College, Malta he then gained a medical degree from the University of Malta.

Following this, he proceeded as a Rhodes Scholar to Christ Church, Oxford, where he gained MAs in psychology and physiology. He represented Oxford in polo and set two canoeing Guiness records. He also holds a PhD in medicine from Cambridge, an honorary DDes (Doctor of Design) from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, and an honorary LLD from the University of Dundee.

Jean-Baptiste de La Salle was a French priest and the inventor of ‘Catholic Schools’, an idea which has subsequently become one of the world’s greatest contributions to the deliberate teaching of thinking worldwide. He is a saint of the Catholic Church: the patron saint for teachers of youth. He dedicated much of his life to the education of poor children in France. La Salle completed his theological studies and was ordained to the priesthood at the age of 26 on April 9, 1678. Two years later he received a doctorate in theology. At that time, most children had little hope for social and economic advancement. Jean Baptiste de La Salle believed that education gave hope and opportunity for people to lead better lives of dignity and freedom.

De Bono has made his own great contribution to the teaching of thinking around the world, since WWII. Having already held faculty appointments at the universities of Oxford, Cambridge, London and Harvard and a professor at Malta, Pretoria, Central England and Dublin Universities Professor de Bono was the co-founder of the Edward de Bono School of Thinking in New York in 1979 which has disseminated over half a billion thinking lessons since then. In 2005, Dr de Bono was nominated (and reached the shortlist) for the Nobel Prize: not in thinking but in Economics.

La Salle was a pioneer in programs for training lay teachers. His educational innovations include Sunday courses for working young men, one of the first institutions in France for the care of delinquents, technical schools, and secondary schools for modern languages, arts, and sciences. The LaSalle University says that his writings influenced educational practice, school management, and teacher  preparation for more than 300 years.

Perhaps the world needs a Nobel Prize in Thinking, today more than ever before.