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Education Bookcast

Jan 31, 2018

Edward de Bono is an expert on creativity, author of over 40 books on the subject. He invented the term "lateral thinking" in the 1960s, which is now a part of common parlance. Over his long career, he has worked with numerous large corporations such as Microsoft, Apple, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Siemens, Bose, HP, LinkedIn, and Texas Instruments, as well as schools, charities, and governments. His basic premise is that creativity can be taught by direct teaching of thinking skills and techniques, and that this kind of thinking is not a normal part of culture, but that it should be.

Controversially, although highly scientifically and mathematically trained, he does not work on scientifically validating his own ideas, only on trying to develop them and promote them, and on making them accessible to a general audience. However, his ideas are nothing if not interesting and original, and I am persuaded enough by much of what he writes that I find it sensible to share it on this podcast.

He is also rather topical because of recent interest in the idea of direct teaching of thinking, which is often combined with the idea of imparting so-called "21st century skills" to schoolchildren. Cognitive scientists often insist that general thinking skills cannot be improved, and that we may only improve at thinking within some particular domain (though some skills are important within many domains, such as reading). For some reason, Edward de Bono never seems to be mentioned during these discussions - neither by those who are in favour of teaching thinking (who, you would think, would be fans of his), nor by those who claim that teaching general thinking directly is a fool's errand. This strange silence, as I perceive it, is something I would like to go some way to fixing.

In this episode, I want to introduce Edward de Bono himself, as well as talk about one of his most famous and commonly applied ideas, the Six Thinking Hats, popularised by a book of the same name. In future episodes we will have a chance to dig more deeply into his work on lateral thinking, creativity, the nature of the mind, and direct teaching of thinking skills, among other things.

Enjoy the episode.

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