Lost Opportunity Costs LO3814

Walter Derzko (wderzko@epas.utoronto.ca)
Wed, 22 Nov 1995 22:04:18 -0500 (EST)

I was reviewing some old notes and decided to summarize some thoughts
on the lost opportunity costs of not teaching thinking skills.

Consider: What happens if we don't teach our children to think for
themselves ?

1) Since it it no longer possible to teach all available information we
must teach children the thinking skills to make the best use of available
or changing information. Thinking skills improve performance in other
subject areas. Otherwise they become lost in new, unfamiliar situations.

2) Unless we teach students to think for themselves they will be limited
to slogan thinking, peer pressure, dogmatic thinking, lack of perception,
gut reactions, routine thinking, knee jerk reactions or the pull of some
emotional argument (usually done by someone defending a point of view &
wishing to manipulate instead of exploring for alternatives).

3) As the complexity of the world and the number of choices grows,
thinking becomes increasingly important. Without thinking, students fear

4) Unless we teach thinking the only outlet for a growing energetic mind
is to be against everything and to be a perpetual critic, since that
requires the least amount of thinking. Critics are never actually forced
to come up with ideas.

5)The functioning of democracy and able government is a function of the
thinking skills of the population. A docile population is not healthy for

6)Thinking skills increase self-reliance and self-esteem. We often see
students who do not perform well in some subjects show their true ability
in thinking lessons. They are the children who tend to grow up to be

7)Education has to go forward to basics which includes thinking, reading
and writing.

8)Education has traditionally focused on descriptive thinking. Action
requires a new set of thinking skills. Without it, thinking beomes muddled
and confused.

9) We need to get away from traditional argumentative, "I can prove my
point of view" thinking to a more constructive, design thinking. This
provides a framework for conflict resolution. Change is sought by a
constructive instead of a destructive approach.

10) Thinking skills allow youngsters to cope with change. Without it we
get resistance and fear.

Walter Derzko