Talking About Thinking

Originally published in Sunstar Davao.

A 14-year-old’s answer to the question: “How Would You Redesign the Human Body?” – used with permission from De Bono Thinking School

I’m sure a lot of you have heard about the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People popularized by Stephen Covey, or the 21 Laws of Leadership by John Maxwell. But have you heard about the 64 different ways of thinking?

Just the other day, I “met” a new friend online and through the wonders of the internet, had an interesting conversation with him about thinking. His name is Atty. Camilo Miguel “Bong” Montesa and he runs the De Bono Thinking School in Loyola Heights, Quezon City. Bong is the first Filipino trained and certified to teach Edward de Bono’s Thinking Systems to students in the Philippines.

I encountered a link to his website from a friend who posted it on Facebook and I was intrigued. What in the world was a “thinking school?” I wondered. So I had a short chat with him and we agreed to talk face to face via Skype.

“We often complain today about people being too narrow-minded and lacking creativity and innovation,” said Bong. “But can we really blame them? It starts with our kids. Our schools have not taught them how to think.”

He further explains that enrolling your child in a Math or Reading or Science Tutorial program may be beneficial but it is not enough. Thinking is a skill that needs to be taught independently and can form the foundation for all these other subjects.

This idea was conceived and popularized by Edward De Bono, a highly accomplished author, recognized worldwide as an expert in the field of conceptual thinking and the direct teaching of thinking as a skill. Some of his more popular books include Six Thinking Hats and Lateral Thinking. Over 20 countries have adopted his ideas and incorporated them into their school curriculum.

“There are 64 different ways of thinking,” said Bong, which surprised me as I could only think of a handful. “We divide these into 8 different modules with 8 sessions per module. Each session deals with a specific thinking skill complete with activities for kids to apply the concept.”

One of the tools that Bong shared to me is called PMI, which stands for Plus-Minus-Interest. When someone presents us with an idea, the usual response would be either to accept the idea or to reject it, sometimes without really considering the idea. PMI provides a framework for us to evaluate the idea thoroughly before accepting or discarding it.

Plus – Ask yourself, what’s good about the idea? Every idea has something positive about it, no matter how bad it sounds..

Minus – Ask yourself, what’s bad about the idea? Every idea also has something negative about it, no matter how good it sounds.

Interest – After everything has been analyzed and evaluated, what is interesting about the idea such that even if we discard the idea, we can probably form a better idea with whatever we find interesting?

I immediately saw the relevance of this when looking at what’s happening in our country. We’ve had lots of controversies regarding the Cybercrime Law, the RH Law, Charter Change, Freedom of Information, and so on. Many people hold rallies and give speeches either for or against these issues, and usually those who are pro want the whole thing implemented and those who are anti want the whole thing incinerated.

A better (and perhaps more rational) way of going around the matter would be to apply PMI on it. Surely, there are some good things about it and some bad things as well. Let’s proceed with what is good, improve on or replace whatever is bad, and see what other interesting issues can be addressed from it.

Bong’s vision is to introduce and incorporate these principles into our schools. Imagine if our kids are equipped with all these tools of of thinking, decision-making, and creativity. We will probably have a better generation of leaders and decision makers. And wouldn’t that be a grand legacy for our generation to impart to them?

 

Andy Uyboco is a businessman, trainer and speaker. To learn more about the De Bono Thinking School, visit their website at www.debonoschool.com. Email me at andy@freethinking.me

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