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Teach Your Child How to Think

By Edward de Bono (includes links to many of his other books)

Teach your child how to think

Amazon link: Teach Your Child How to Think

From Publishers Weekly

Some parents may be confused by this busy primer, while others will agree with the author’s premise that creative thinking skills can be directly taught.

De Bono, a business and educational consultant, asserts that this manual is equally applicable to teaching children or senior executives.

Crammed with exercises, games and diagrams, the book stresses that thinking involves “operacy”—the skills of doing or making things happen—as well as devising mental patterns more effective than the mind’s routine habits.

De Bono (I Am Right You Are Wrong ) takes a no-nonsense approach, pointing out that much thinking is inefficient and that many highly intelligent people are not good thinkers.

He urges the use of speculation, hypotheses, provocation and other techniques as a way to get out of mental ruts and generate ideas.

Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. — This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

  • Contents of Teach Your Child How to Think
    • Part One
      • This Book is Not For You If …
      • Introduction: Why We Need New Thinking About Thinking
        • Information and Thinking
        • Intelligence and Thinking
        • Cleverness and Wisdom
        • Does Thinking Have to Be Difficult?
        • How to Be an Intellectual
        • Reactive and Pro-Active Thinking
        • The New Word ‘Operacy’
        • Critical Thinking
        • The Adversarial System
        • Challenge And Protest
        • The Need To Be Right
        • Analysis and Design
        • Creative Thinking
        • Logic and Perception
        • Emotions, Feelings and Intuition
        • Summary
      • Note About the Author
        • Education
        • Business
        • Public Affairs
        • International
        • Publications
        • Think About Thinking
        • Experience
        • Summary
      • How to Use This Book
        • Age
        • Teaching From the Book
        • Motivation
        • Hobby or Sport
        • Teaching Style
        • Discipline
        • Necklace Structure of the Book
        • Sequence
        • Formal Practice
        • Informal Practice
        • Exercises
          • There are four types of practice items
            • 1. Fun Items
            • 2. Remote Items
            • 3. Backyard Items
            • 4. Heavy Items
          • There should always be a mix of items
            • If I had to give a percentage of the mix of items, this would be as follows
              • Stage of building up thinking skills
              • Stage of application of skills already acquired
        • Performance
          • Demonstration
          • Joint
          • Request
          • Parallel
          • Group
          • Written
        • Nature of This Book
      • Age and Ability
        • Simplify
        • Groups
          • Young Group
          • Middle Group
          • Older Group
        • Further Use and Repeat Use
      • Thinking Behaviour
        • You WANT TO THINK
        • You HAVE TO THINK
        • Routine and Non-Routine
        • Focus, Situation and Task
        • Changing Gears
        • Practical Thinking
          • Casual
          • Discussion
          • Applied
        • Automatic and Deliberate
        • Summary
      • The Nature of Thinking
        • The Nature of Mind
        • Self-Organizing
        • What Can We Do?
        • Attention-Directing Tools (this is huge)
        • Training
        • Summary
    • Part Two
      • Carpenters and Thinkers
        • Basic Operations
        • Tools
        • Structures
        • Attitudes
        • Principles
        • Habits
        • Summary
      • Attitudes
        • Bad Attitudes
        • Good Attitudes
          • First of all there are attitudes towards the skill of thinking itself
          • Now we can consider some attitudes about the nature of your thinking
        • Exercises for Attitudes
      • The Six Thinking Hats
        • The Six Thinking Hats
          • The six thinking hats is a method for doing one sort of thinking at a time
          • Why Hats?
          • Role-Playing
          • Use of the Hats
            • 1. Yourself
            • 2. Someone Else
            • 3. Group
          • The Six Thinking Hats in Use
          • Attention Directing
          • Exercises on the Six Thinking Hats
        • White-Hat Thinking and Red-Hat Thinking
          • White Hat
            • Missing Information
            • Getting the Information We Need
            • Information and Feeling
            • Challenge
          • Red Hat
            • Justification
            • At This Moment
            • Mixed Feelings
          • Summary
          • Exercises on White-Hat and Red-Hat Thinking
        • Black-Hat Thinking and Yellow-Hat Thinking
          • Black Hat
            • Is It True?
            • Does It Fit?
            • Will It Work? Will the idea work?
            • What are the weaknesses in the idea?
            • Over-Use
          • Yellow Hat
            • What Are the Benefits?
            • Why Should It Work?
            • Over-use
          • Summary
          • Exercises on Black-Hat and Yellow-Hat Thinking
        • Green-Hat Thinking and Blue-Hat Thinking
          • Green Hat
            • Exploration
            • Proposals and Suggestions
            • Alternatives
            • New Ideas
            • Provocations
            • Action and Energy
          • Blue Hat
            • Where are We Now?
            • What is the Next Step?
            • Program for Thinking
            • Summary
            • Observation and Comment
            • Over-use
          • Summary
          • Exercises on Green-Hat and Blue-Hat Thinking
        • Six Thinking Hats in Sequence
          • Occasional Use
          • Systematic Use
          • Sequence Use
            • Seeking an Idea
            • Reacting to a Presented Idea
            • Short Sequences
          • Summary
          • Exercises on the Sequence Use of the Six Hats
      • Outcome and Conclusion
        • Three types of outcomes
          • Better Map
          • Pin-Pointing Needs
          • Specific Answer
        • Summary
        • The Five-Minute Thinking Format
          • One Minute (Purpose, Focus, Outcome, Situation)
          • Next Two Minutes (Explore)
          • Next One Minute (Choosing or Deciding)
          • Final One Minute (Outcome)
          • Output
          • Exercises on the Five-Minute Thinking Format
      • Forward or Parallel
      • CAF: Consider All Factors
        • Exercises on CAF
      • APC: Alternatives, Possibilities, Choices
        • Exercises On APC
      • Values
        • Exercises on Values
      • OPV: Other People’s Views
        • Two Sides in an Argument
        • Exercises on OPV
      • C&S: Consequence and Sequel
        • Time Scale
          • Immediate
          • Short-Term
          • Medium-Term
          • Long-Term
        • Risk
        • Certainty
        • Exercises on C&S
      • PMI: Plus, Minus and Interesting
        • Interesting
        • Scan
        • Exercises on PMI
      • Focus and Purpose
        • Key Questions
        • Setting the Focus
        • Type of Thinking
          • Exploring
          • Seeking
          • Choosing
          • Organizing
          • Checking
          • Type of thinking as a part of focus & purpose
        • Exercises on Focus and Purpose
      • AGO: Aims, Goals and Objectives
        • Alternative Definitions of the Objective
        • Sub-Objectives
        • Exercises On AGO
      • FIP: First Important Priorities
        • Include and Avoid
        • How Many Priorities?
        • Exercises on FIP
      • First Review Section
        • Tools and Habits
        • The Thinking Habits
          • Focus and Purpose
          • Forward and Parallel
          • Perception and Logic
          • Values
          • Outcome and Conclusions
          • Summary
        • The Six Thinking Hats
        • The Thinking Tools
          • AGO: Aims, Goals and Objectives
          • CAF: Consider All Factors
          • OPV: Other People’s Views
          • APC: Alternatives, Possibilities and Choices
          • FIP: First Important Priorities
          • C&S: Consequence and Sequel
          • PMI: Plus, Minus and Interesting
        • Use of the Tools
        • Habits and Tools
        • Summary
        • Review Exercises
    • Part Three
      • Broad and Detail
        • Generating Alternatives
        • Extracting the Broad Idea
        • Concept and Function
        • Summary
        • Exercises on Broad and Detail
      • Basic Thinking Operations
        • Carpenter Model
        • The Cutting Operation
          • Focus
          • Extract a Feature
          • Analysis
          • Expansion
        • The Sticking Operation
          • Connections
          • Recognition
          • Synthesis
          • Construction
          • Design
        • The Shaping Operation
          • Judgement
          • Matching
          • Hypothesis
          • Comparison
        • Summary
        • Exercises on Basic Thinking Operations
      • Truth, Logic and Critical Thinking
        • Game Truth
        • Reality Truth
          • 1. Checkable truth
          • 2. Personal experience
          • 3. Second-hand experience
          • 4. Generally accepted
          • 5. Authority
          • Consider the following statements about cows
        • Thinking Habit
        • Logic
        • Logic, Information and Creativity
        • Critical Thinking
        • Summary
        • Exercises on Truth, Logic and Critical Thinking
      • Under What Circumstances?
        • Thinking Habit
        • Exercises on Circumstances
      • Hypothesis, Speculation and Provocation
        • Jump Ahead
        • Levels of Speculation
          • Certain
          • Reasonably Sure
          • Good Guess
          • Possible
          • Tentative
          • Provocation
        • Action and Change
        • Creative Attitude
        • Scientific Thinking
        • Business Thinking
        • Summary
        • Exercises on Hypothesis, Speculation and Provocation
      • Lateral Thinking
        • Is creativity a mysterious talent possessed by a few people?
          • Creating
          • Art
          • Genius
          • Changing Ideas and Perceptions
        • Origin
        • Use of Lateral Thinking
        • Definition
        • General and Specific
        • Patterns
        • Humour
        • Hindsight
      • Provocation and Po
        • Movement
        • Setting Up Provocations
          • Received Provocations
          • Reversal
          • Escape
          • Wishful Thinking
          • Outrageous
        • Summary
        • Exercises on Provocation and Po
      • Movement
        • Introduction
        • Ways of Getting Movement
          • Attitude
          • Moment-to-Moment
          • Extract a Principle
          • Focus on the Difference
          • Search for Value
          • Interesting
        • Summary
        • Exercises on Movement
      • The Random Word
        • Introduction
        • Getting the Random Word
        • List of Random Words
        • Why It Works
        • Use of the Technique
        • Summary
        • Exercises on the Random Word
      • Second Review Section
        • The first review covered many specific thinking tools plus attention-directing
        • This second review section is concerned with some of the fundamental thinking operations
        • Truth and Creativity
        • Critical Thinking
        • Creative Thinking
        • Lateral Thinking
        • Basic Operations
          • Cutting
          • Sticking
          • Shaping
        • Further Thinking Habits
          • Circumstances
          • Broad and Detail
        • Summary
        • Review Exercises
      • Principles for Thinking
        • 1. Always be constructive
        • 2. Think slowly and try to make things as simple as possible
        • 3. Detach your ego from your thinking and be able to stand back to look at your thinking
        • 4. At this moment, what am I trying to do? What is the focus and purpose of my thinking?
        • 5. Be able to ‘switch gears’ in your thinking
        • 6. What is the outcome of my thinking—why do I believe that it will work?
        • 7. Feelings and emotions are important parts of thinking but their place is after exploration
        • 8. Always try to look for alternatives, for new perceptions and for new ideas
        • 9. Be able to move back and forth between broad-level thinking and detail-level thinking
        • 10. Is this a matter of ‘maybe’ or a matter of ‘must be’?
        • 11. Differing views may all be soundly based on differing perceptions
        • 12. All actions have consequences and an impact on values, people and the world around
        • Summary
    • Part Four
      • Structures and Situations
        • Structures
        • Situations
        • Summary
      • TO/LOPOSO/GO
        • TO
        • LO
        • PO
        • SO
        • GO
        • Visual Structure
        • Interaction
        • Summary
        • Exercises On TO/LOPOSO/GO
      • Arguments and Disagreements (How to Have a Beautiful Mind)
        • Emotions and Feelings
          • Use of the Red Hat
          • Words
        • Perceptions
        • Values
        • Logic
        • Specific Structure
          • Declaration
          • Comparison
          • Design
          • Trading
        • Power Disputes
        • Summary
        • Exercises on Arguments and Disagreements
      • Problems and Tasks
        • Tasks
        • Guessing and Estimating
        • The Problink Method
          • ‘Link’
          • Route
          • Detail
        • Selection of Alternatives
          • Objective
          • Feasibility
          • Priorities
          • Values
          • General Assessment
        • Action
        • New Problems or Tasks
        • Summary
        • Exercises on Problems and Tasks
      • Decisions and Choices
        • Emotions
          • Greed
          • Fear
          • Laziness
          • Emotional contribution check
        • Minor Decisions and Choices
          • The Six-Hats Structures
          • Attention-directing Tools
        • Major Decisions and Choices
          • Objective and Priorities
          • Benefits
          • Feasibility
          • Difficulties and Dangers
          • Impact
          • Consequences
          • Cost
          • Risk
            • Short-Fall
            • Harm and Danger
            • Cost-Overrun
            • Circumstance Change
            • Fall-Back Position
            • Risk awareness and minimization
          • Trial and Testing
        • Selection
        • Four Choices
          • The Ideal Choice
          • The Emotional Choice
          • The Practical Choice
          • The Minimal Choice
          • Making the Choice
        • Design
        • Analysis Paralysis
        • Summary
        • Exercises on Decisions and Choices
      • Third Review Section
        • General-Purpose Structure
        • Argument and Disagreement
        • Problems and Tasks
        • Decisions and Choices
        • Summary
        • Review Exercises
    • Part Five
      • Newspaper Exercises
        • 1. The Tower
        • 2. The Adjectives
        • 3. The Bridge
        • 4. Headline Story
        • 5. the Chain
        • 6. Picture and Story
      • The Ten-Minute Thinking Game
      • The Drawing Method
        • Words and Pictures
        • Operacy
        • Discussion
        • Summary
        • Exercises With Drawing
      • Final Word
    • Appendix: Thinking Clubs
      • Purpose of the Thinking Clubs
      • Activities of the Thinking Clubs
      • Principles
      • Practical Matters
        • Discipline
        • Duration of Meetings
        • Frequency of Meeting
        • Organizer
        • Place of Meetings
        • Number of People
        • Log Book
        • Activities During a Meeting of a Thinking Club
          • 1. Formal matters
          • 2. Thinking task catalogue
            • Practice Items
            • Personal Items
            • Local Items
            • Project Items
            • World Affairs
          • 3. Skills learning and practice
          • 4. Comment upon thinking skill
          • 5. Application to personal matters
          • 6. Application to local matters
          • 7. Project report and thinking
          • 8. World affairs
          • 9. Final matters
      • Total Timing
      • Material
      • Training
      • Register of Thinking Clubs
      • Summary




Carpenters and Thinkers by Edward de Bono in Teach Your Child How To Think

My favorite model for a thinker is that of the carpenter.

Carpenters do things.

Carpenters make things.

Carpenters do things step by step.

Carpenters deal with the physical substance of wood — so we can see what they are doing.

Basic Operations

The basic operations of a carpenter are few and we could summarize them as three:

1. Cutting

2. Sticking

3. Shaping

Cutting means separating out the piece you want from the rest.

As I shall explain later this corresponds to the thinking operations of: extraction, analysis, focus, attention etc. ¶¶¶

Sticking means putting things together with glue or nails or screws.

The corresponding thinking operations include: connections, linkages, synthesis, grouping, design etc. ¶¶¶

Shaping means setting out to achieve a certain shape and comparing what you have at the moment to what you want.

In thinking this corresponds to: judging, comparing, checking and matching. ¶¶¶

So the basic operations of a carpenter are quite few (actually there are some others like drilling and polishing) but with these few operations a carpenter can make complicated objects.


In practice the carpenter uses tools to carry out the basic operations.

The carpenter does not just say, ‘I want to cut this,’ but picks up a saw and uses the saw.

These tools have been developed over the centuries as effective ways of carrying out the basic operations. ¶¶¶

So we have saws, chisels and drills for cutting. ¶¶¶

So we have glue, hammer and nails, screws and screwdriver for sticking things together. ¶¶¶

So we have planes and templates for shaping things. ¶¶¶

In exactly the same way we can have tools for thinking.

Some of these tools (like the PMI) will be presented in this book. ¶¶¶

The carpenter builds up skill in the use of the tools.

Once the carpenter has acquired the skillful use of the tools, they can be used in different combinations to do different things. ¶¶¶

A saw is something quite definite.

In the same way the thinking ‘tools’ are also definite and need to be treated in this manner.

When you use a saw you use a saw and not just a ‘method of cutting.’


There are times when the carpenter needs to hold things in a certain position so that he or she can work upon them.

For example you need to hold the wood steady in order to saw through it.

You need to hold the wood steady so you can drill the holes where you want them.

For this purpose there are vices and work-benches. ¶¶¶

When the carpenter wishes to glue certain pieces together he puts the pieces in a sort of holding structure called a jig.

This is a supporting structure which enables him to carry out his construction. ¶¶¶

In exactly the same way there are thinking ‘structures’ that will be presented in this book.

These are ways of holding things so that we can more easily work on them.


A carpenter usually has some background attitudes towards his or her work. ¶¶¶

The attitude may be one of always seeking simplicity.

Another attitude may be an emphasis on durability.

Strength is a background attitude for all carpenters.

In the same way a good thinker has certain background attitudes which are always present in his or her thinking.


Attitudes are more general and principles are more specific.

Often the two overlap.

A carpenter will also build up a number of guiding principles of things to do and things to avoid.

These principles might include: Go with the grain of the wood.

Arrange the maximum sticking surface for all joints.

Measure everything.

Use a thin layer of glue.

In the same way there are certain basic principles which guide thinking.

For example, good thinking will always want to examine the specific circumstances in which a statement is true.

Larger view of thinking principles ↓ Text version ↓ :::
Always be constructiveWhat additional thinking is needed?



A carpenter develops certain work habits.

These may not come naturally and the carpenter may have to keep reminding himself or herself of the habit until it does become automatic.

Such habits may include: Always replacing a tool in the rack immediately after use. ¶¶¶

Regular sharpening of the cutting edges.

Frequent checking of a shape against the template.

Sometimes the habit may consist of the automatic application of a principle, so the distinction between the two may not always be clear.

The important point is that habits are routine procedures.

In the same way there are routine habits which a good thinker seeks to build up.

For example, as a matter of routine, a good thinker will always pause to see if there are alternatives at any point.

There may be alternative ways of looking at the situation, alternative explanations, alternative courses of action, alternative values etc.


So the model of the carpenter provides us with all the elements of thinking skill that I shall be describing in this book.

ATTITUDES: The attitudes with which we approach thinking.

PRINCIPLES: The guiding principles that make for good thinking.

HABITS: The routines we seek to make automatic.

BASIC OPERATIONS: The fundamental operations of thinking.

TOOLS: The thinking tools we practice and use deliberately.

STRUCTURES: Formats in which we hold things for convenience.

Always keep in mind the model of the carpenter as he or she goes about constructing things.




See booktitle at for reviews and comments


“The greatest danger in times of turbulence is not turbulence; it is to act with yesterday’s logic”. — Peter Drucker

The shift from manual workers who do as they are being told — either by the task or by the boss — to knowledge workers who have to manage themselves ↓ profoundly challenges social structure

Managing Oneself (PDF) is a REVOLUTION in human affairs.” … “It also requires an almost 180-degree change in the knowledge workers’ thoughts and actions from what most of us—even of the younger generation—still take for granted as the way to think and the way to act.” …

… “Managing Oneself is based on the very opposite realities: Workers are likely to outlive organizations (and therefore, employers can’t be depended on for designing your life), and the knowledge worker has mobility.” ← in a context




These pages are attention directing tools for navigating a world moving relentlessly toward unimagined futures.



What’s the next effective action on the road ahead


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It may be a step forward to actively reject something (rather than just passively ignoring) and then working out a plan for coping with what you’ve rejected.

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