Let’s think about thinking.

We acquire a lot of skills during infancy. As infants we stumble when we first start walking. We struggle when we first begin talking. We make a mess when we first start eating. With practise and a helping hand we become proficient. But no-one is inside our little heads helping us master thinking. Frankly, most of us have no way of knowing if we are wholly proficient at thinking or not. Most of us get by, but is it the best we can do?

Here’s a newsflash! If we all thought out loud, we’d soon learn that thinking is a haphazard and dicey process.

Sometimes the significance of something is not realised until too late. The captain of the Titanic, Edward J Smith, knew about the threat of ice in the northern sea during April. But he did not consider taking a more southerly route where the waters were warm and safe. Why? He believed his ship was unsinkable. Even after it struck the iceberg, he thought the damage was slight. What we already think will largely limit what we think next, unless we learn to think differently.

Clear thinking is not a black art, nor is it the sole province of geniuses. Ordinary people can learn to think in a more productive manner.

Susan Alexander teaches thinking.