Reasons why informed teachers and parents choose Thinking Tools


The brain is not a photocopier machine

The brain’s memory on which the education system is relying, is the brain’s worst faculty. Somehow it is wired to forget more than it is able to recall during tests and exams.

This memory is also not trustworthy. Information the student was able to recite before entering the exam room, disappears in thin air when it must be provided as an answer on the exam paper.

Defining learning as a linear input/output process does not do justice to the brain which consists of about 100 billion neurons with roughly 1 quadrillion — 1 million billion — connections known as synapses wiring these cells together.

Homo sapiens is destined to think, and thus all information on earth is created by human brains. It is general knowledge that the brain is a knowledge creator. This is acknowledged everywhere in the world, except in schools where learners’ brains are turned into knowledge duplicators.


What is ‘photocopier machine’ learning?

The brain does not have the ability or capacity to capture or photo-image all the pages of a textbook. To overcome this shortcoming the education systems offers the ‘summarising’ solution which consist of something like this:

  • The content of a chapter is summarised on few pages and then further reduced to an A4 page.
  • The A4 page is reduced to an A5 page and that to crib note size.

This type of learning makes use of very tiny structure in the brain called the hippocampus. Marks resulted from this way of using the brain can never reflect the student’s full potential as is not aligned with the wiring of the brain.


How is the brain wired to think?

When the brain is provided with a word, for example, ‘tree’, the nature of the brain is to go in autopilot mode and roams through billion neurons and synapses to find related concepts such as, leaves, roots, shadow, water, rain, tarred road, holiday, etc. Always more and bigger.

Expecting from students to summarise does not match the natural wiring of the brain.


The conflict between memory-based learning and assessment

Whilst the brain is trained to reduce information, assessment requires the brain to expand information to obtain more marks. It is not fair to expect from a summary-fit brain to suddenly demonstrate expanding fitness during the exam. This is like preparing an athlete for a 100-meter race which changes the day of the competition when the athlete is required to jump over a horizontal bar.

This paves the way for a new definition which deviates from memorising and gravitates towards thinking.


Using the two frontal lobes of the brain instead

The two large frontal lobs are connected by the corpus callosum constitutes to constitute the integrated cognitive computer of the brain. When computing or thinking, the brain uses the billions of neurons and synapses networks in interconnected ways, for example, to:

  • Classify information into logical categories.
  • Determine cause and effect relationships between variables.
  • Compare and contrast information.
  • Determine sequence and order.
  • See analogies.
  • Discover processes and sequences.

When using the brain for the above purposes, the brain construct and reconstruct answers to individual questions which are eventually packaged into meaningful units of knowledge and insight. Knowledge and insight gained in this way is stored in the long-term memory


Thinking Tools are inborn abilities.

If the brain did not have inborn Thinking Tools, the human brain would never be able to classify information into logical categories, determine cause and effect, compare and contrast information, determine sequence and order, see analogies and to discover processes and sequences.


Examples of Thinking Tools

To classify information, the brain has a Thinking Tools to analyse the bigger challenge into smaller chunks. While analysing a theme, the brain also has a Thinking Tool to seek, find and organise facts. The result of this kind of thinking results in a classification.

If the bigger challenge is a process and not a cluster of facts, the brain has a Thinking Tool to analyse or unpack processes instead of facts.

All of this is addressed in the Thinking Tools course for teachers.


How is Thinking Tools teaching and learning different?

Traditional teachers provide students with information that must be absorbed and learned. In the case of mathematics sums must be repeated until the recipe is cemented in the brain. When analysing the results of this approach to maths, it is clear that the repetition process is not as successful as predicted.

Thinking Tools teachers, on the other hand, equip their student with Thinking Tools in the same way that they were equipped during their training. This empowers their students to take ownership of their own thinking which enables them, for example, to analyse a theme or a sum themselves. During this process students start detecting reoccurring steps, relations or patterns. This AHA or insight is then cemented in the student’s brain never to be forgotten again. This Fourth Industrial Revolution approach to learning replaces memorising recipes.


This takes time and will I be able to cover my curriculum in time?

Yes, it takes time to empower students to use Thinking Tools. As Thinking Tools are used new neural pathways are established in the brain, which means the brain develops, for example, the skill to analyse either facts or processes or both. This means that each next round of analyses will go faster than the previous ones. This enables teachers to cover the curriculum intime. There is, however, a timesaving factor: Since students discovered e.g., a process themselves, it is cemented in their memory and there is no reason to set time aside for reviewing.

To the contrary, the memory of the brain is not trainable to remember longer and faster. This is the purpose of study methods and also the reason why they have never proved to be successful.

Thinking Tools is not a study method, it is redefining learning.


Thinking Tools are relevant for all curricula, grades, subjects, as well as for Project- and Inquiry-based Learning.