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Thinkabout Blog – Building from the Ground ….Down

Posted on the 16th December 2015

Last month I travelled for two reasons.  One reason was to work with educational leaders in Ethiopia and the other was to travel across northern Ethiopia.  Little did I know that the real reason was waiting far beneath the ground.

After flying into Addis Ababa and then north, our Thinking Foundation team began working in the city of Mekele in the northern Tigray region of Ethiopia.  We are collaborating with a dozen university professors and lecturers, lead by the Tigray Development Association, to initiate the Thinking Schools Accreditation Process (TSAP). This means that the 37 public schools (that have begun professional development in the TSI approach some months ago) will begin documenting their own evolution as a Thinking School with direct support from highly qualified university researchers.  The two day, highly collaborative, seminar was ground breaking for all of us.  I wanted to make sure that these leaders evaluated, challenged, and adapted our design to fit the culture, language, values and goals set by Ethiopian educators.  The vision is to build quality model sites from which an educational movement supporting high quality teacher professional development in Ethiopia can grow – indigenously. 


After the work it was time to explore:  we went on several very bumpy road trips in northern Ethiopia to historic Askum and surroundings (now a international travel destination).  Three eight hour journeys took my breath away: crossing high mountains laced with terraced farming, broad river valleys, Grand Canyons one after another, and 15 mile long high plateaus graced by small villages. This trip was beyond my imagination, and ultimately, brought me to sit on the barren floor of an unlit kindergarten classroom surrounded by smiling, eager faces in a town called Lalibela.  

I had only heard about and looked at a few pictures of the UNESCO site at Lalibela.  They call the town the 8th wonder of the world.  Like sculpture through which an artist releases a form from solid, cold stone, what I witnessed in this dry, mountain top village transformed my vision of what is possible.  There are wonders of the natural world, and then there are the natural miracles of imagination and human potential that transcend our notions of the possible.  As this is a season of miracles for many, if you visit here you may come to believe that the human mind can envision most anything … and build it.  I certainly see transformative, secular education as such an endeavor.

A sculptor emancipates a vision from stone, slowly bringing it into light, into sight that then often sits untouched upon a pedestal.  But what happened in the late 12th and early 13th centuries in Lalibela was the sculpting of 11 churches carved out of stone – literally from the ground…. down.  Like building an intricate sandcastle on the beach downward rather than up.  Give your mind a moment to consider this:  imagine being up high on a mountainside in a village and at that turn of a dusty road, you take a tight, curved steep pathway down into a courtyard nearly two hundred feet to the base of a church.  Look up and you see a multistory church … and then above it the ground level from which it was carved.  The church was NOT BUILT.  It was carved.  Completely from the level ground, down.  From the outside in.  Walk into the church center, a sacred crossing of rooms, that could hold a hundred people, and see in the darkness men, women and children dressed in pure white, glistening, sitting or standing while leaning their hands and chins on prayer sticks. Chanting scripture by candlelight.  Become transformed as I did by the strange feeling that you were standing INSIDE a sacred sculpture seeking light from the underground darkness.  

After stepping out into the full light and heat from the churches (many connected by underground passage ways) up the road we visited a Lalibela kindergarten school owned by a single teacher. She is a mother who started the school in her small home, on her own, to serve the community and the memory of her son who passed away in early childhood.  I was sitting on the floor amongst 20 or so 4-5 year old children. I began playfully showing them the hand signs for each of the eight Thinking Maps– each for learning how to visually pattern ideas from a blank page. I looked up at the teacher and beheld the smile of a mother.  Outside in the courtyard, I asked her what she needed.  And then I immediately asked myself within… as I listened to her: “What doesn’t she and these children and this school and this community need?”  

She said she needed $400 for a computer as she needs to create and transmit reports of attendance and other key information to the government so that she can receive funding.  And toys – simple toys as she explained – to bring the kinesthetic development required for growth.  She needs the basic tools of the trade for the 21st century.  I told her I would reach out to my friends for help.   

You are those friends.  

I have always considered education in its hightest form to be the release of the unlimiting thinking capacities of students into the open, rippling across generations, centuries, human kind – yet all projected forward from thousands of years ago.  In Ethiopia you can visit the the bones of our ancestors: the archeologists’ remnants of Lucy under glass at the National Museum.  This in a country dominantly Christian in the true cradle of civilization.  Many Ethiopians hold, quite naturally in mind, a belief in God and the science of Darwinian evolution.  

I was reminded on my visit to a Lalibela church that one of the three wise men, Balthazar, came from Ethiopia and, from a kindergarten classroom in Lalibela, that every child should have the opportunity to grow wise with age.

We are seeking funds for one computer in Lalibela, resources for Thinking Schools teachers and students across Ethiopia, and for supporting an evolution in thinking.   

For donations to the Lalibela kindergarten and the Thinking Schools Ethiopia projects, please contact David through

Short History of Lalibela from Wikipedia:

During the reign of Saint Gebre Mesqel Lalibela (a member of the Zagwe Dynasty, who ruled Ethiopia in the late 12th century and early 13th century), the current town of Lalibela was known as Roha. The saintly king was named so, because a swarm of bees is said to have surrounded him at his birth, which his mother took as a sign of his future reign as Emperor of Ethiopia. The names of several places in the modern town and the general layout of the rock-cut churches themselves are said to mimic names and patterns observed by Lalibela during the time he spent as a youth in Jerusalem and the Holy Land.

Lalibela, revered as a saint, is said to have seen Jerusalem, and then attempted to build a new Jerusalem as his capital in response to the capture of old Jerusalem by Muslims in 1187.  Each church was carved from a single piece of rock to symbolize spirituality and humility. Christian faith inspires many features with Biblical names – even Lalibela’s river is known as the River Jordan.  Lalibela remained the capital of Ethiopia from the late 12th into the 13th century.

Church in Lalibela
David Hyerle with children from Lalibela kindergarten

Thinkabout Blog – Growing Thinking Schools in Ethiopia …

Posted on the 12th November 2015

Since 2009, Robert Price has been developing Thinking Schools Ethiopia, facilitating training with school educators and NGOs.  However, in the past 18 months the project has been building momentum, culminating in the current Growing Thinking Schools Project in Tigray, Ethiopia. What began with a social media connection is now 37 laboratory model schools representing 12 Woredas (districts) in all seven regional zones. Robert explains further:

‘Thinking Schools Ethiopia is a grass roots evolution. I have been the global trainer since the beginning of the project with the support of David Hyerle’s collaboration, who is currently conducting training in Tigray for three universities as I write this guest blog.  The Thinking Schools Ethiopia project is very much a ‘community for change’ in spirit and implementation. It has employed the ‘Trainer of Trainer’  model,  training on methods for whole school Thinking Schools change as well as apprenticing the trainers as school change leaders.  It began simply with the ‘Thinking Schools’ method of training to a variety of whole schools. It has now evolved into well organized regional training in the northern state of Tigray. 

The Tigray project began in June 2014 with training for 80 Tigray Education Bureau Experts, who represent the whole region.  By March 2015 funding for the project was sourced through Initiative Africa, administering funding for whole school change with a focus on empowerment for girls.  In June 2015 myself, Atsede and Dagim conducted training for leadership teams of 8 people from each of the model schools in three regional locations:  Wukro, Aksum and Shire.  This was followed in October 2015 by conducting training for Trainer of Trainers from each of the 37 schools (most were previously part of the leadership team training).  Once completed the same team facilitated large scale training in the three regional locations with the Trainer of Trainers leading their schools under my guidance. From Wukro there were 350 educators from 19 schools, Aksum had 225 from 9 schools and from Shire there were 225 educators from 9 schools.  Atsede and Dagim will continue to provide support and guidance for all schools over the forthcoming months, and in January 2016, further Trainer of Trainers and Leadership trainings will take place.

Dagim Melese is the co-country lead trainer for the Tigray and below, he gives further detail to the approach followed for the most recent training in October, to over 850 educators’. Robert Seth Price, TSI Global Trainer and TSE Country TrainerRobert Seth Price, TSI Global Trainer and TSE Country Trainer

Whole School Staff Training for developing models of Thinking Schools in Tigray region
Thinking Schools International (TSI) and Thinking Schools Ethiopia (TSE) facilitated whole staff training for educators of 37 laboratory schools in Tigray region. The schools involved two primary schools and a high school from each of the 12 Woredas of the Zonal Administrations in Tigray and one additional school in the Mekelle area. The TSI Global Trainer Robert Seth Price, and the TSE Global Trainers Atsede Tsehayou and Dagim Melese collaborated on facilitating the professional development.
The training had begun with the leadership team of schools and experts from Tigray Education Bureau, the Teacher Education Colleges and Mekelle University. Deciding upon the model’s importance to the government school systems in the region, TDA (Tigray Development Association) planned the development of 37 Thinking Schools in 12 Woredas (districts) of the region.  Following from the principle of whole school transformational change processes the training then was facilitated to most of educators at Wukiro , Aksum and Shira training sites.

Whole School Professional Development Training:  Two Days at Three Regional Locations: Wukro, Aksum and Shire
Subsequently a two days whole staff training was undertaken for over 350 teacher educators under the leadership role of the ToT trainers in Wukro, another 2 day training in Aksum for 225, and Shire for 240. The ToT trainers played key role in effectively transferring via modeling the essential components of the training to ALL educators from Wukro. After the two days training teachers from 2 primary and 1 secondary schools from each Woreda  came up with their plan (in a Flow Map) of whole school implementation of Thinking Maps in their respective schools.  Of note, the training hall at the Wukro site, an auditorium with a Catholic School, contributed significantly to the success of the overall training there.  It was superb in space, excellent in sound, and sufficient quality chairs and tables for the large group.

The Growing Thinking Schools Inside Out handbook guide was translated to Tigrinya which was welcomed by all the participants, especially the ones who had been in the initial school leadership trainings when the guide was in English. From this training, the translation will be further refined.  Additionally a Student Practice Guide was developed and shared with all participants to comment on prior to translating the final guides for primary and secondary implementation. The training has been conducted by the TSE trainers whom speak both Tigrinya and Amharic.

It began simply
Trianing of Teacher educators
Whole school staff training
Tigrinya translation of the Growing Thinking Schools handbook
David Hyerle’s Think About Blog – Learning STUFF

Posted on the 11th September 2015

As the temperature chilled the other day with late summer here in the Sierra Mountains of California, my mind jumped months ahead to the ritual of Thanksgiving and how my Mom always filled the turkey cavity with a breaded stuffing.   How could my mind jump so far ahead ?  I really loved watching her stuff that turkey and I loved to stuff huge portions in my mouth—because there was always more!  The meat was precious, the stuffing always abundant (and void of nutritional value).

And, as the weather changes and a new school year opens up for many countries around the world, there is anxiousness by most students about how much content there is to stuff into their brains—and how they will “cram” for tests.  Most students have the concept of school as a place where you learn STUFF and then you get grades for being better or worse than other students at remembering all the stuff.   Their brains get STUFFED.  

This is what needs to be undone.

What if EVERY student came to the first minute of school saying to themselves:


“How can I improve my thinking this year?”

I know.  This is a very odd question that you would never expect from a student.  But we should. That is the problem.  This is because very few educators say this at the beginning of the year to students, or ever.  What if every teacher stated to their students on the first day of class:

“Together, we are going to improve your ability to think so you can learn better.  You are going to learn how learn.”

The capacity we all have as human beings to reflect and become truly fluent with our own thinking and open to other ways of thinking—thus becoming more adaptive to life’s experiences—is essential to future generations of students and to the future of this planet as we face daunting challenges and exciting new opportunities.  But most school systems hold to the assumption that, simplistically, if students learn more STUFF then they will “naturally” improve their abilities to think.  They are right—in a very limited way.  Yes, by STUFFING more information into your brain you have to think on some level, but if most of the learning is by memorization then students learn to memorize better and not necessarily think in a variety of ways:  creatively, generatively, analytically, conceptually, systemically… and most important: reflectively.

Schools involved in the Thinking Schools network share a common belief and grounded research that “the shift” toward balancing deep content learning and student-centered thinking processes is absolutely essential for students of the 21st century. Improvement in student achievement, as identified on conventional assessments, is certainly one of the desired outcomes. However, measures and demonstrations of students’ ability to interdependently and independently, strategically, and thoughtfully apply the strategies and tools they learn through their experiences in a Thinking School are distinctive features of a Thinking School’s impact on student learning.

What if every teacher created a poster and put it up in on the first day of class the three principles of Thinking Schools:

     * ALL of us have the innate ability to think—and learn to think better–as part of our human developmental process.

     * Content learning is improved when thinking abilities are developed.


     * Thinking is improved when all teachers and students in our school use common models

David Hyerle on the Big Picture view of TSI

Posted on the 05th July 2015

I’ve just flown back from the International Conference on Thinking in Bilbao, Spain with an appreciation for all that leaders in the field over the last 30 years have given us.   This conference moves every year from country to country, having started back in 1982 when this field was just becoming identified as a key pathway for transforming schools. 

Keynote presenters included those who have led the way over all of these years: Howard Gardner, Art Costa, David Perkins, and Robert Sternberg.   Gardner gave us a theory of multiple intelligences, Costa habits of mind and cognitive coaching, Perkins extensive writing about intelligences, creativity and “smart schools”, and Sternberg a comprehensive guide to the research on intelligences.  

Our work with Thinking Schools International was well represented by Estee Lopez who offered her research on visual tools (particularly Thinking Maps) and language acquisition from her doctoral dissertation.  I was also given two opportunities to present the TSI approach as a featured speaker at the conference.   TSI has been consolidating and synthesizing our approach over the years and I was able to present the concept of “student centered models for thinking” and our three “new” models: Thinking Points, Open Minds, and the Reflection Action Process or “RAP.”  This new work and models is included in the “Growing Thinking Students in Thinking Schools” LUMIbook we authored and that was published at the beginning of this year.    

But where did these three student centered models come from?  The models and our approach comes directly from the “thinking” pioneers noted above!  Their groundbreaking work offers the foundation and trail markers for what we are all about.  And this was the key point of my second presentation that centered on the “big picture” view of TSI that you can look at right here, but that is fully described in Growing Thinking Students (p.23).   Several participants in the crowded room of international delegates to the conference noted that they appreciated that we could so clearly (visually) show exactly how we see the overarching areas of thinking down to the bottom of the page detailing exactly what students use in the classroom.

Thinking Pioneer, Howard Gardner

There is so much great work going on around the world and yet much of the work that is being done is by way of single models or sets of “thinking skills” being used in classrooms.  The TSI view, I believe, is coherent and flexible… and thus leads to the capacity for schools and even whole countries to scale the implementation of student centered models and also, importantly, SUSTAIN the quality of work over time.   

I came away from this conference feeling very good about where we have come, where the schools are with whom we work right now in different countries….and inspired by how much is still possible as we remain open to improving this approach.

David Hyerle’s Thinkabout Blog – Educating a Thinking Generation

Posted on the 03rd June 2015

A Citizenry that can Think

“A literate citizenry is just a citizenry that can read… not a citizenry that can think.”  Dr. Yigal Joseph

The documentary The Language of the Mind shares the remarkable story how visual tools have changed how students in the New Rochelle School District (New York, USA) are thinking and contributing to the overall classroom discourse, regardless of English proficiency.

Around the globe the ideal of a literate citizenry has changed dramatically in the past few decades toward explicitly engaging all children, no matter the circumstance, in becoming independent and collaborative thinkers.  All children need to think through the overwhelming glut of information as even the definition of a full-fledged “citizen” in most countries has changed to include all people no matter of race, religion, or gender.  In many countries, though, being a girl or of a certain socio-economic class, or racial group or sexual identity means that even though you may become literate… you are not challenged and coached to think for yourself and improve your natural abilities for unlimited growth in thinking.  Let’s be clear: improving a girl’s test scores does not mean that equity has been attained.   How do girls and women speak their minds?  Cognitive-neuroscience research now shows that the plasticity of the brain calls out for continuous development of the mind of every child—through to our later years.   Every child along the pathway to adulthood needs to be an adaptive thinker and learner no matter what jobs they have within their family, learning in college or career, or in multiple countries they may live in over their lifetime.  And, the global citizen needs to be adaptive because of chaotic nature of economic globalization, new communication tools and physical mobility.  Many adults and their children are displaced within or pushed out of their own society by economic distress, environmental disasters or by political storms.  Adults and children, caught in these crosscurrents of change, need to be adaptive thinkers, able to survive and to thrive.


The Language of the Mind Video
Minds of Mississippi Video

Of course, countries around the world have also recognized the economic tipping point: the accelerated growth in “knowledge workers.”  Google President Eric Schmidt predicts that every adult will have a handheld device within 20 years—just one generation of school children away.  Libraries, once temples for the chosen few, are now open to all who have access to the web.  Yet with this openness comes the need for every learner to have developed the capacities to think through information, media, propaganda, marketing, and scientific knowledge presented as “reliable.”  Citizens young and old are targeted by messages not meant as instructional, but to influence beliefs, behaviors and actions.  Old and sometimes ancient societal structures frame the reality of schooling everywhere, so education in this century will be about youth engaging, understanding and sometimes challenging societal norms. How? Children must have the practical tools for learning while filtering and critically reflecting on “messaging” from around the world.  They need to be resilient and thoughtful.  They need to think… but more importantly:  think about HOW they and others are thinking about critical, hot-button, polarized issues.  They must break through stale polarized positions in dialogue to new understandings… and action in the world.

Quality education—now often described and evaluated by tests such as PISA as based upon “higher order thinking” for all–is recognized as an absolute necessity for countries in a globalized, technological, dynamic marketplace for ideas and competing ideologies—and competition for labor.  Whole countries (such as Malaysia and Ethiopia where Thinking Schools International has been working) recognize the necessity: they must produce a “thinking” citizenry or the next generation will become low level workers for “knowledge based” countries seeking “cheap” labor.  So education for the masses is not simply a matter of replicating old school classrooms “for all” where functional literacy was the outcome—where students sit in rows, learn to read, and test well.  Those students are pliable citizens, docile workers.  Education must focus on developing thinking abilities directly applied to literacy development, content learning and knowledge creation.  For example, explicitly and systematically taught cognitive processes (such as sequencing, cause and effect, comparing and contrasting, reasoning by analogy, creating categories and taxonomies) are fundamental to cross discipline reading comprehension. Habits of mind such as persistence, clarity, creativity, resilience, and empathy are keys to problem-solving and thus have a direct impact on daily life for every child.  This process creates better learners, but it also nurtures more democratic principles and processes, based on the capacities of citizens to think for themselves.  

Importantly, cognitive/neuroscience science research has shown for decades that “traditional” content learning is also improved with the development of cognitive “processing” skills, generative thinking, habits of mind, and critical inquiry and reflection.  The essence of the Thinking Schools International approach is the direct training of students in thinking models for becoming adaptive and empowered individuals who can think for themselves and with others.  We guide students in any environment to become empathic thinkers, able to be entrepreneurial in the workplace, and most importantly to be able to think in the midst crisis, scarcity and uncertainty.  We believe that this is also the basis for the evolution toward a more democratic world: a global citizenry that can think.  

Thinkabout Blog – How is your executive functioning today?

Posted on the 24th March 2015

So last week a colleague asked me to explain how the Thinking Friends program supports even the youngest children in the early years to develop “executive functioning.”  That got my head whirling a bit as there are so many levels to what we are doing with these farm animals.  Much like in Orwell’s Animal Farm, these animals are best when they are working together!!

First, here is a brief introduction to Thinking Friends, then to a long foray (with apologies)  into mental models, mental “cognitive” operations, inter-dependencies between cognitive processes, and finally executive functioning.  It is a long ride here.. so drink your tea, coffee or whatever floats your boat… !

Thinking Friends are eight animal characters, living life on a farm, with each animal having the personality, respectively, of a single fundamental thinking/cognitive skill (sequencing, defining, describing, cause and effect, comparing/contrasting, classifying, examining parts of objects/spatial reasoning, and using analogies) and style.  As children engage with the Thinking Friends, they learn to identify and think about their own thinking (metacognition) in early childhood, using these explicit lessons about their thinking, allowing them to become more skillful thinkers and successful learners as their young brains mature.  At the same time, children are becoming more empathic, attuned to the different ways others think and problem solve.

Development of Executive Functioning and Metacognition using an Explicit Cognitive Model

Children so easily play with blocks of different colors, sizes, and shapes.  From these primitive forms they create and test their own worlds. Later, through parallel play and then deliberately with playmates, they form unique structures and whole narratives that animate otherwise lifeless wood or plastic.  At these earliest ages, they are acting as scientists in that they are systematically investigating and defining their context (see: Scientist in the Crib). 

Model Builders

They are not just randomly throwing blocks around the room: they are creating mental models of how objects work together and fall apart or get knocked over (fun!).  They are building conceptual mental models, schemata, neural networks, and discarding them just as easily.  Every day.  There is great joy to be had in watching children testing, discarding, and even mastering their models as if they were in a lab.

Organizing using Mental Operations

In order to be successful “model” builders, children learn to organize and manage “projects” large and small that they create or that are offered by parents, siblings, peers and child care providers.  They are learning at a deep level to manage their minds, emotions, bodies, and words “as markers” for objects and concepts, and resulting actions.  This growing capacity of unconscious executive functioning supports such dispositions as increasing focus, risk taking, and perseverance, while decreasing impulsivity that hampers discovery and learning. Over the history of research and theories of human development, it is hard to imagine a more significant area of focus for supporting children in their natural capacities to explore and learn than by facilitating their capacities for executive functioning. But how? 

Primarily, the answer has been through a focus on language (literacy). Many approaches rely on enriching a child’s vocabulary as the primary vehicle for becoming more reflective about not just “what” they are doing (the content) but “how” they are doing it (process). Yet, all languages are co-structured by cognitive processes. These processes have been defined as the very few “mental operations” (Piaget and Inhelder) that structure behavior and language: sequencing, categories, casuality, attributes, comparatives, whole-part spatial relations, etc.  Try to imagine any language without these cognitive structures.  It would be like trying to imagine the human body without a skeleton.  Try to imagine any language without thought. Vygotsky had it right: Thought and Language.


Executive Functioning

Executive functioning is a broad category of processes and behaviors (or dispositions), yet the above named mental operations or “cognitive processes” may be understood as the foundation from which springs an evolving metacognitive awareness.  A question rarely raised is one central to our work: how does a child hold a conscious “meta” cognitive stance without being explicitly introduced to “cognitive” processes? While early childhood educators are well aware of the importance of cognitive processes, a focus on cognition (meta or not!) has taken a back seat to language development.  Cognitive and language development need to be co-developed.

Cognitive Processes working together

Returning to the brief discussion above about “models”, we recognize that fundamental cognitive processes are not discrete, or somehow function separately.  Try categorizing without comparing. Or try comparing without describing attributes.  Each cognitive process is deeply entwined with and thus interdependently functioning with the others.  This is why we use a model of cognitive processes. Unfortunately, research on the interdependency of cognitive processes is scant simply because researchers cannot so easily control for so many variables over time, so they study “category structure” or “causality” in relative isolation.  

To Sum Up

This discussion of models, executive functioning, cognitive or “mental” processes, and a cognitive model for children is the foundation for the Thinking Friends approach our team has developed.  These “thoughtful” friends are eight farm animals, each respectively animating a clearly defined cognitive process, such as Cowsie “Cows n Effect” for cause-effect reasoning, or Snaky Sequencer.  The farmer,  “Farmer Framer” is the metacognitive source for guiding the more expansive “executive functioning” of the team of thinkers.  Through stories, children become conscious of and fluent with a model of eight basic cognitive processes.  They develop an actual meta-cognitive language for using these friends as mental avatars in their own world of thinking, feeling, learning, and discovery.  

A place we can call a Thinking School? Thinkabout Blog

Posted on the 24th February 2015

Over thirty years ago a comprehensive study of schools in America shook the educational establishment, almost as hard as the Sputnik launch by the Soviets a few decades before catalyzing the country to reform education. 

In a book titled A Place Called School, a well-respected researcher, John Goodlad, provided a stark and honest picture of the primary teacher-student relationship, and a message:

‘If teachers in the talking mode and students in the listening mode is what we want, rest assured that we have it.  Clearly the bulk of this talk was instructing in the sense of telling. Barely 5% of this instructional time was designed to create students’ anticipation of needing to respond. Not even 1% required some kind of open response involving reasoning or perhaps an opinion from students.’ (Goodlad, 1984, 229)


Sadly, John Goodlad recently past away from us while leaving a rich legacy of grounded research and insights derived from looking closely at what was happening in classrooms.  I began the first “virtual” page of our new LUMIBook (Growing Thinking Students in Thinking Schools. Hyerle, D. School Improvement Network; 2014) using the above quote by Goodlad just months before he died.   I had also used Goodlad’s research and his pointed statement in my 1993 doctoral dissertation laying out the foundations for the Thinking Maps® model.  While much has changed in many classrooms in America and around the world since then, there is still a very long journey ahead accompanied by a new type of urgency to take the cognitive/neuroscience research and blend it in with our global needs for dramatically changing our education systems.

Goodlad’s work is timeless because he gave us good questions to ask of ourselves.  Look into your own classrooms and schools by walking around as did thirty years ago as he collected data.  I invite you to research these questions:

  • What percentage of your school’s classroom time is driven by students’ talking and learning to generate their own questions for inquiry?

  • What percentage of questions generated by teachers are focused on having students go deeper than giving the right/wrong, one-shot response?

  • How much time is given to explicitly and systematically over time developing ALL students’ abilities to reason, to reflect, and to wonder aloud?

Asking ourselves these kinds of questions– and doing focused action research– leads us to think not just about individual teachers, but rather to see the larger view looking out on a place called a Thinking School.

John Goodlad
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