Sometimes we think too simply and imagine What to be a set of facts. Something that you can write down and remember. But in a lot of ways that is far from the truth. You can approach the world from particular mindsets.

If I hold out a flower

… An artist might think of its beauty, the subtlety of its colors, its scent.

… A scientist might think of how it is pollinated, how to keep it fresh longer.

… A businessman might think of how much it costs and what it took to bring it to market.

… A nurse might be reminded of a bouquet that was delivered to a patient’s bedside this morning.

… A sociologist might reflect on the various meanings a flower can have in different cultures, a gift of romance, a peace offering, a friendly welcome.

None of these are wrong. They are just different ways of thinking about the flower. When approaching the What of learning, we might consider thinking about thinking.

Perhaps alone or perhaps combined with other ideas, one of these “ways of thinking” might trigger your next Learning Opportunity.

Quantitative Thinking

Think like a mathematician, statistician, businessman, coach, trainer, weatherman.

  • Logic
    • Use assumptions, definitions, and previously established results to construct and support arguments. Use deductive reasoning and proofs to test conjectures and develop logical conclusions. Use computation, estimation/and mathematical properties to solve problems; estimate and check the reasonableness of results, including those obtained by technology.
  • Computation
    • Use computing tools (like programming, scripting, spreadsheets, GIS, statistical software) to analyze, organize, and communicate numbers and data.
  • Modeling
    • Use statistical, budget, algorithmic, and geometric models to test ideas and explain ideas
  • Data
    • Use tools to find patterns in data
  • Measurement
    • Using the tools of measurement to answer questions or communicate. How can I use numbers to evaluate my hypothesis? What numerical information can I collect about this? Can I estimate this quantity? How can I measure its shape or structure?

Empirical Thinking

Think like a scientist, investigative journalist, doctor, lawyer.

  • Investigation
    • Gather and organize evidence to find new insights and answers
  • Inquiry
    • Ask questions to get at underlying information
  • Analysis
    • Examine findings and evidence and come up with theories and explanations
  • Scientific Method
    • Use the scientific method to test hypotheses

Societal Thinking

Think like a sociologist, historian, economist, politician.

  • Critical Analysis 
    • Use critical methods and lenses to examine underlying systems and structures and their impacts, outcomes, biases.
  • Diverse Perspectives 
    • Understand, consider, and integrate different perspectives (economic, cultural, political, ethnic, religious, gender, sexual, age, ability, etc)
  • People, Places, and Environment 
    • Understand, consider, and integrate the role of people (through culture, migration, conflict, cooperation, economics), place (through urbanization, nationalization, expansion, adaptation) and environment (through geography, location, climate, habitat).
  • Human Behavior and Expression 
    • Examine social and cultural dynamics and their effects on individuals. Examine creative expression through the lens of art, literature, music, architecture, etc. Analyze issues of ethics and social responsibility. Examine social influences, beliefs, and behavior; examine and reflect on cultural and group dynamics and effects on individuals.
  • Institutions and Systems 
    • Understand major political and social systems and structures and their effects on individuals and society. Think critically about individual rights and responsibilities within these systems. Understand the principles, structures, and functions of government in the United States and the rights and responsibilities of citizens.

Creative Thinking

Think like an artist, inventor, entrepreneur.

  • Observe
    • The artist observes with all their senses, memories, and emotions. They take time to observe and record what they see, feel, remember, think. They try to understand and make connections.
  • Question
    • The artist frequently question what they observe and believe. Artists are encouraged to question everything (beliefs, structures, traditions, ideas, truths) including themselves. Artists have the power to question simple, obvious issues and to surface ambiguity, gray areas, and propose different interpretations.
  • Ideate
    • Artists are trained to come up with new ideas, time and time again. Ideation requires practice, patience, and openness.
  • Communicate
    • Art crosses genders, geographies, culture, and time to stimulate feelings. Artists, with or without intention, are capable of communicating with us in a non-verbal language. This communication also translates to the experience we have with the art.

Nurturer Thinking

Think like a caregiver, a teacher, a parent, a nurse.

  • Empathy
    • The ability to sense other people’s emotions, coupled with the ability to imagine what someone else might be thinking or feeling. Another component of empathy is sometimes called “perspective taking,” it refers to our ability to identify and understand other people’s emotions.
  • Compassion
    • Compassion literally means “to suffer together.” Among emotion researchers, it is defined as the feeling that arises when you are confronted with another’s suffering and feel motivated to relieve that suffering.
  • Generosity
    • Can you act to promote someone else’s welfare, even at a risk or cost to ourselves? It might involve giving of time, money, resources, or spirit.
  • Listening
    • A nurturer is a good listener, giving full attention to the spoken and unspoken words of another or even themselves. 
  • Advocacy
    • A nurturer speaks and acts for those who do not have the ability or platform to speak or act for themselves.

Explore one of the Ways of Thinking areas above or pick one of these.

⇨  I would like to combine a What idea with another idea

⇨ I would like to go back to the 5W1H list

I am ready to describe my custom Learning Opportunity