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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.  

Thinking Pioneer, Howard Gardner

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.

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.

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