How Do We Think What We Think? – Workshop Tip #232

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Application: Try this. In implementing your Workflow Learning projects, have a conversation with workers and learners. Ask them to do abstraction of how they understand the issue, problem, or the work they do. It can be a  simple chart, drawing, or sketch in a napkin. Allow them to draw from their own experiences and understanding. Workers and learners succeed in their jobs because they have a mental “abstract working model” of their work. This tells you a lot about how they see the world of their work. 

The greatest challenge in the WFL Diagnostic Model lies in the THINKING process.  THINKING is an action that is internal to the worker or learner. As shown in the overview model, THINKING is positioned at the bottom of the design. The WORK and the EXPERIENCE aspects of the model are concrete and palpable. One can easily verify and validate it.  But what about what happens in the THINKING process?   How do you know one is thinking?  The following quote is telling or revealing of the need to shift one’s thinking to explore the unknown.

“I’ve spent my life trying to undo habits—especially habits of thinking. They narrow your interaction with the world. They’re the phrases that come easily to your mind, like: ‘I know what I think,’ or ‘I know what I like,’ or ‘I know what’s going to happen today.’ If you just replace ‘know’ with ‘don’t know,’ then you start to move into the unknown. And that’s where the interesting stuff happens.” 

Humans of New York

The most challenging of all is that this “Thinking” skill as the article flatly stated, has never been taught at all.  Yet it advocates that “No skill is more valuable and harder to come by than the ability to critically think through problems. And schools don’t teach you a method of thinking; you have to do the work yourself. Those who do it well get an advantage and those that do it poorly pay a tax.” The best way to improve your ability to think is to spend time thinking.

“It’s only by concentrating, sticking to the question, being patient, letting all the parts of my mind come into play that I arrive at an original idea. By giving my brain a chance to make associations, draw connections, take me by surprise”— William Deresiewic

Be that as it may, in the era of information technology and the advancement of neuroscience, ways and levels of thinking are now being explored to tap into the world of information processing skills set of the human brain. Can wealth and wisdom of information be accessed through the gift of thought in the human brain?


Ray Jimenez, Ph.D. blog “It Depends” Elicits Deliberate Thinking, Build A Culture of Critical Thinking For Learning Breakthroughs How To Think: The Skill You’ve Never Been Taught

Ray Jimenez, PhD
Vignettes Learning
“Helping Learners Learn Their Way”