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From: How to Teach

The term "thinking" has been used almost as loosely as the term
"imagination," and used to mean almost as many different things. Even
now there is no consensus of opinion as to just what thinking is. Dewey
says, "Active, persistent, and careful consideration of any belief or
supposed form of knowledge in the light of the grounds that support it,
and the further conclusions to which it tends, constitutes reflective
thought."[5] Miller says, "Thinking is not so much a distinct conscious
process as it is an organisation of all the conscious processes which
are relevant in a problematic situation for the performance of the
function of consciously adjusting means to end."[6] Thinking always
presupposes some lack in adjustment, some doubt or uncertainty, some
hesitation in response. So long as the situation, because of its
simplicity or familiarity, receives immediately a response which
satisfies, there is no need for thinking. Only when the response is
inadequate or when no satisfactory response is forthcoming is thinking
aroused. By far the majority of the daily adjustments made by people,
both mental and physical, require no thinking because instinct, habit,
and memory suffice. t is only when these do not serve to produce a
satisfactory response that thinking is needed--only when there is
something problematic in the situation. Even in new situations thinking
is not always used to bring about a satisfactory adjustment. Following
an instinctive prompting when confronted by a new situation; blindly
following another's lead; using the trial and error method of response;
reacting to the situation as to the old situation most like it; or
response by analogy: all are methods of dealing with new situations
which often result in correct adjustments, and yet none of which need
involve thinking. This does not mean that these methods, save the first
mentioned, may not be accompanied by thinking; but that each of them may
be used without the conscious adjustment of means to end demanded by
thinking. That these methods, and not thinking, are the ones most often
used, even by adults, in dealing with problems, cannot be denied. They
offer an easy means of escape from the more troublesome method of
thinking. t is so much easier to accept what some one else says, so
much easier to agree with a book's answer to a question than to think it
out for oneself. Following the first suggestion offered, just going at
things in a hit-or-miss fashion, uncritical response by analogy, saves
much time and energy apparently, and therefore these methods are adopted
and followed by the majority of people in most of the circumstances of
life. t is human nature to think only when no other method of mental
activity brings the desired response. We think only when we must.

Not only is it true that problems are often solved correctly by other
methods than that of thinking, but on the other hand much thinking may
take place and yet the result be an incorrect conclusion, or perhaps no
solution at all be reached. Think of the years of work men have devoted
to a single problem, and yet perhaps at the end of that time, because of
a wrong premise or some incorrect data, have arrived at a result that
later years have proved to have been utterly false. Think of the
investigations being carried on now in medicine, in science, in
invention, which because of the lack of knowledge are still incomplete,
and yet in each case thinking of the most technical and rigorous type
has been used. Thinking cannot be considered in terms of the result.
Correct results may be obtained, even in problematic situations, with no
thinking, and on the other hand much thinking may be done and yet the
results reached be entirely unsatisfactory. Thinking is a process
involving a certain definite procedure. t is the organisation of all
mental states toward a certain definite end, but is not any one mental
state. n certain types of situations this procedure is the one most
certain of reaching correct conclusions, in some situations it is the
only possible one, but the conclusion is not the thinking and its
correctness does not differentiate the process from others.

From the foregoing discussions it must not be deduced that because of
the specific nature and the difficulty of thinking that the power is
given only to adults. On the contrary, the power is rooted in the
original equipment of the human race and develops gradually, just as all
other original capacities do. Children under three years of age manifest
it. True, the situations calling it out are very simple, and to the
adult seem often trivial, as they most often occur in connection with
the child's play, but they none the less call for the adjustment of
means to end, which is thinking. A lost toy, the absence of a playmate,
the breaking of a cup, a thunderstorm, these and hundreds of other
events of daily life are occasions which may arouse thinking on the part
of a little child. t is not the type of situation, nor its dignity,
that is the important thing in thinking, but the way in which it is
dealt with. The incorrectness of a child's data, their incompleteness
and lack of organization, often result in incorrect conclusions, and
still his thinking may be absolutely sound. The difference between the
child and the adult in this power is a difference in degree--both
possess the power. As Dewey says, "Only by making the most of the
thought-factor, already active in the experience of childhood, is there
any promise or warrant for the emergence of superior reflective power at
adolescence, or at any later period."[7]

Thinking, then, is involved in any response which comes as a result of
the conscious adaptation of means to end in a problematic situation.
Many of the processes of mental activity which have been given other
names may involve this process. Habit formation--when the learner
analyzes his progress or failure, when he tries to find a short cut, or
when he seeks for an incentive to insure greater improvement--may serve
as a situation calling for thinking. The process of apperceiving or of
assimilation may involve it. Studying and trying to remember may involve
it. Constructive imagination often calls for it. Reasoning, always
requires it. n the older psychology reasoning and thinking were often
used as synonyms, but more recently it has been accepted by most
psychologists that reasoning is simply one type of thinking, the most
advanced type, and the most demanding type, but not the only one.
Thinking may go on (as in the other processes just mentioned) without
reasoning, but all reasoning must involve thinking. t is this lack of
differentiation between reasoning and thinking, the attempt to make of
all thinking, reasoning, that has limited teachers in their attempts to
develop thinking upon the part of their pupils.

The essentials of the thinking process are three: (1) a state of doubt
or uncertainty, resulting in suspended judgment; (2) an organization and
control of mental states in view of an end to be attained; (3) a
critical attitude involving selection and rejection of suggestions
offered. The recognition of some lack of adjustment, the feeling of need
for something one hasn't, is the only stimulus toward thinking. This
problematic situation, resulting in suspended judgment, caused by the
inadequacy of present power or knowledge, may arise in connection with
any situation. t is unfortunate that the terms "problematic situation"
and "feeling of inadequacy" have been discussed almost entirely in
connection with situations when the result has some pragmatic value.
There is no question but what the situation arousing thinking must be a
live one and a real one, but it need not be one the answer to which will
be useful. t is true that with the majority of people, both children
and adults, a problem of this type will be more often effective in
arousing the thinking process than a problem of a more abstract nature,
but it is not always so, nor necessarily so. Most children sometimes,
and some children most of the time, enjoy thinking simply for the sake
of the activity. They do not need the concrete, pragmatic
situation--anything, no matter how abstract, that arouses their
curiosity or appeals to their love of mastery offers enough of a
problem. Sometimes children are vitally interested in working
geometrical problems, translating difficult passages in Latin, striving
to invent the perpetual motion machine, even though there is no evident
and useful result. t is not the particular type of situation that is
the thing to be considered, but the attitude that it arouses in the
individual concerned. Educators in discussion of the situations that
make for thinking must allow for individual differences and must plan
for the intellectually minded as well as for others.

The thinker confronted by a situation for which his present knowledge is
not adequate, recognizes the difficulty and suspends judgment; in other
words, does not jump at a conclusion but undertakes to think it out. To
do this control is continually necessary. He must keep his problem
continually before him and work directly for its solution, avoiding
delays, avoiding being side-tracked. This means, of course, the critical
attitude towards all suggestions offered. Each one as it comes must be
inspected in the light of the end to be reached--if it does not seem to
help towards that goal, it must be rejected. Criticism, selection, and
rejection of suggestions offered must continue as long as the thinking
process goes on. "To maintain the state of doubt and to carry on
systematic and protracted inquiry--these are the essentials of

n order to maintain this critical attitude to select and reject
suggestions with reference to a goal, the suggestions as they come
cannot be accepted as units and followed. Such a procedure is possible
only when the mental process is not controlled by an end. Control by a
goal necessitates analysis of the suggestions and abstraction of what in
them is essential for the particular problem in hand. t is because no
complete association at hand offers a satisfactory response to the
situation that the need for thinking arises. Each association as it
comes must be broken up, certain parts or elements emerge, certain
relationships, implications, or functions are made conscious. Each of
these is examined in turn; as they seem to be valueless for the purpose
of the thinker, they are rejected. f one element or relationship seems
significant for the problem, it is seized upon, abstracted from its
fellows, and becomes the center of the next series of suggestions. A
part, element, quality, or what not, of the situation is accepted as
significant of it for the time being. The part stands for the
whole--this is characteristic of all thinking. As a very simple
illustration, consider the following one reported by Dewey:

"Projecting nearly horizontally from the upper deck of the ferryboat on
which daily cross the river, is a long white pole, bearing a gilded
ball at its tip. t suggested a flag pole when first saw it; its
color, shape, and gilded ball agreed with this idea, and these reasons
seemed to justify me in this belief. But soon difficulties presented
themselves. The pole was nearly horizontal, an unusual position for a
flag pole; in the next place, there was no pulley, ring, or cord by
which to attach a flag; finally, there were elsewhere two vertical
staffs from which flags were occasionally flown. t seemed probable that
the pole was not there for flag-flying.

" then tried to imagine all possible purposes of such a pole, and to
consider for which of these it was best suited: (_a_) Possibly it was an
ornament. But as all the ferryboats and even the tugboats carried like
poles, this hypothesis was rejected. (_b_) Possibly it was the terminal
of a wireless telegraph. But the same considerations made this
improbable. Besides, the more natural place for such a terminal would be
the highest part of the boat, on top of the pilot house, (_c_) ts
purpose might be to point out the direction in which the boat is moving.

"n support of this conclusion, discovered that the pole was lower
than the pilot house, so that the steersman could easily see it.
Moreover, the tip was enough higher than the base, so that, from the
pilot's position, it must appear to project far out in front of the
boat. Moreover, the pilot being near the front of the boat, he would
need some such guide as to its direction. Tugboats would also need poles
for such a purpose. This hypothesis was so much more probable than the
others that accepted it. formed the conclusion that the pole was set
up for the purpose of showing the pilot the direction in which the boat
pointed, to enable him to steer correctly."[8]

The problem was to find out the use of the flag pole. No adequate
explanation came as the problem presented itself; it therefore caused a
state of uncertainty, of suspended judgment, and a process of thinking
in order to get an answer. Each suggestion that came was analyzed, its
requirements and possibilities checked up by the actual facts and the
goal. The suggestions that the pole was simply to carry a flag, was an
ornament, was the terminal of a wireless telegraph, were examined and
rejected. The final one, that the pole was to point out the direction in
which the boat was moving, upon analysis seemed most probable and was
accepted. The one characteristic of the pole, that it points direction,
and its position, need to be accepted as the essential facts in the
situation, for the particular problem. Without control of the process,
without the two steps of analysis and abstraction, no conclusion could
have been reached.

Analysis and abstraction may be facilitated in three ways. First, by
attentive piecemeal examination. The total situation is examined,
element by element, attentively, until the element needed is reached or
approximated. This method of procedure helps to emphasize minor bonds of
association which the element possesses in the learner's experience but
which he needs to have brought to his attention. t can only be used
when the element is known to some degree. t is the method to use when
elements are known in a hazy, incomplete, or indefinite way and need
clearing up. Second, by varying the concomitant. An element associated
with many situations, which vary in other respects, comes to be felt and
recognized as independent. This is the method to use when a new element
in a complex is to be taught. Third, by contrast. A new element is
brought into consciousness more quickly if it is set side by side with
its opposite. Of course, this is only true provided the opposite has
already been learned. To present opposites, both of which are new or
only partially learned, confuses the analysis instead of facilitating

Reasoning, as the highest type of thinking, includes all that thinking
in general does, and adds some particular requirement which
differentiates it from the simpler forms. Further discussion of it,
then, should make clearer the essential in thinking as a process, as
well as make clear its most difficult form. Reasoning is defined by
Miller as "controlled thinking,--thinking organized and systematized
according to laws and principles and carried on by use of superior
technique."[9] Reasoning, then, is the kind of thinking that deals
directly with laws and principles. Much thinking may be carried on
without any overt, definite use of laws and principles, as in
constructive imagination or in apperception, but, if this is so, it
seems better to call the thinking by one of the other names. Of course
this classification is somewhat arbitrary, but there can be no question
that types of thinking do differ. As has already been noted, some
psychologists have used the terms thinking and reasoning as synonyms,
but such usage has resulted in confusion and has not been of practical
value. t is only as the mental process desired becomes clearly
conceived of, its connotations and denotation clearly defined, that it
becomes a real goal towards Which a teacher or learner may strive. This,
then, is the primary criterion of reasoning--that the thinker be dealing
consciously with laws and principles. An acceptance of this first
essential makes clear that the particular process of reasoning cannot be
carried on in subjects which lack laws and principles. Spelling,
elementary reading, vocabulary study, most of the early work in music
and art, the acquisition of facts wherever found--these situations may
offer opportunity for thinking, but little if any for reasoning. Because
a teacher is using the development method does not mean necessarily that
her students are reasoning. The two terms are not in any way synonymous.

The second essential in reasoning is the presence of a definite
technique. This technique consists of two factors: first, certain
definite mental states, and second, the use of the process of thinking
by either the inductive or the deductive method.

First as to the mental states involved. The fact that the thinking deals
with laws and principles necessitates the presence, in the thinking
process, of constructive verbal or symbolic imagery, logical
relationships, logical concepts, and explicit judgments. This does not
at all exclude other types of these mental states and entirely different
mental states. The kind of analysis involved simply necessitates the
presence of these types, whatever others may be present. Constructive
symbolic imagery has already been discussed. Logical relationships are
those that are independent of accidental conditions, are not dependent
on mere contiguity in time and space, but are inherent in the
association involved. Such relationships are those of likeness and
difference, cause and effect, subject and object, equality, concession,
and the like. Logical concepts are those which are the result of
thinking, whose definite meaning has been brought clearly into
consciousness so that a definition could be framed. A child has some
notion of the meaning of tree, or man, or chemist, and therefore
possesses a concept of some kind, but the exact meaning, the particular
qualities necessary, are usually lacking, and so it could not be called
a logical concept. Explicit judgments are those which contain within
themselves the reasons for the inference. They, too, are the result of
thinking. One may say that "cheating is wrong," or that "water will not
rise above its source level," or that "cleanliness is necessary to
health," or that "this is a Rembrandt"--as a matter of experience,
habit, but without any reflection and with no reasons for such judgment.
f, on the other hand, the problems to which these judgments are answers
had been a matter of thinking, the reasons or the ground for such
judgment would have become conscious and the judgment then become
explicit. t must be evident that in any problems dealing with laws and
principles the mental states involved must be definite, clear cut,
logically sound, and their implications thoroughly appreciated and

The second element in the technique necessary in reasoning is the use of
either the inductive or the deductive method in the process. nduction
requires--a problem, search for facts with which to solve it, comparison
and analysis of those facts, abstraction of the essential likenesses,
and conclusion. Deduction requires--a problem, the analysis of the
situation and abstraction of its essential elements, search for generals
under which to classify it, comparison of it with each general found,
and conclusion. t is unfortunate that in the discussions of induction
and deduction the differences have been so emphasized that they have
been regarded as different processes, whereas the likenesses far
outweigh the differences. An examination of the requirements of each as
stated above shows that the process in the two is the same. Not only do
both involve reasoning and therefore require the major steps of analysis
and abstraction present in all thinking, but both also involve search
and comparison. Both, of course, involve the same kind of mental states.
At times it is very difficult to distinguish between them. Although for
practical purposes it is necessary, sometimes, to stress the
differences, the inherent similarity should not be lost sight of.

The differences between these two methods of reasoning are, first, in
the locus of the problem; second, in the order of the steps of the
process; third, in the relative proportion of particulars and generals
used; fourth, in the devices used, (1) n induction the problem is
concerned with a general. n some situation a concept, law, or principle
has proven inadequate as a response. The question is then raised as to
what is wrong with it and the inductive process is instigated. The
problem is solved when the principle or concept is perfected or
enlarged--in other words, is made adequate. n deduction the problem is
concerned with the individual situation. Some problem is raised by a
particular fact or experience and is answered when it is placed under
the law or concept to which it belongs. Deduction is, practically the
classification of particulars. (2) The order of steps is different. n
induction, because present knowledge falls short, the major step of
analysis necessary to abstraction of the essential is impossible, and
therefore the search for new facts must come first, whereas in
deduction, the analysis of the particular situation results in a search
for generals and a classification of the situation in question. (3) n
induction many particular facts may be necessary before one concept or
principle is made adequate, while in deduction many concepts or
principles may be examined before one particular is classified. (4) n
induction the hypothesis is used as a device to make clear the possible
goal; in deduction the syllogism is used as a device to make clear the
conclusion which has been reached, to throw into relief the
classification and the result coming from it.

n this discussion, induction and deduction have been treated, for the
sake of clearness, as if they acted independently of each other, as if a
thinker might at one time use deduction and at another time induction.
They have been outlined in such a way that one might think that the
movement of the mind in one process was such that it precluded the
possibility of the other process. This is not so--the two are
inextricably mingled in the actual process of reasoning, and further,
induction as used in practical life always involves deduction at two
points, as an initial starting point and as an end point. The knowledge
that a certain principle is inadequate comes to consciousness through
the attempt to classify some particular experience under it. Failure
results and the inductive process may then be initiated, but this
initial attempt is deductive and if it had been successful there would
have been no need of induction. After the inductive process is complete
and the general principle has been classified or perfected, the final
step is testing it to see if it is adequate, first by applying it to the
particular problem which caused the whole process, and then to new
situations. f it tests, it is accepted,--if not, further induction is
necessary. This again is deduction. Not only is induction not complete
without deduction, but each deduction influences the principle which is
applied, making it more sure and more flexible. Even in the process of
induction, there are attempts to classify these facts which are being
gathered under suggested old principles, or half-formed new ones, before
the process is completed. This is a deductive movement, even though it
prove unsatisfactory or impossible. Dewey describes this interaction by
saying, "There is thus a double movement in all reflection: a movement
from the given partial and confused data to a suggested comprehension
(or inclusive) entire situation; and back from this suggested
whole--which as suggested is a meaning, an idea--to the particular
facts, so as to connect these with one another and with additional facts
to which the suggestion has directed attention."[10] However true this
intermingling of induction and deduction may be, the fact still remains
true that in any given case the major movement is in one direction or
the other, and that therefore in order to insure effective thinking
measures must be taken accordingly. As a child formulates his conception
of a verb, or words the characteristic essentials of the lily-family, or
frames the rule for addition of fractions or the action of a base on a
metal, he is concerned primarily with the form of the reasoning process
known as induction. When he classes a certain word as a conjunction, a
certain city as a trade center, a certain problem as one in percentage,
he is using deduction. Complexes and gradual shadings of one state into
another, not clearly defined and sharply differentiated processes and
states, are characteristic of all mental life.

Another unfortunate statement with regard to induction and deduction is
that the former "proceeds from particulars to generals" and the latter
from "generals to particulars." Both of these statements omit the
starting point and leave the thinker with no ground for either the
particulars or the generals with which he works. The thinker is
supposed, let us say, to collect specimens of flowers in order to arrive
at a notion of the characteristics of a certain class--but why collect
these rather than any others? True, in the artificial situation of a
schoolroom or college, the learner often collects in a certain field
rather than another, simply because he is told to. But in daily life he
would not be told to---the incentive must come from some particular
situation which presents a problem and therefore limits the field of
search. The starting point must be a particular experience or situation.
The same thing is true in deduction, although the syllogistic form has
often been misleading. "Metals are hard; iron is a metal, therefore iron
is hard." But why talk about metals at all--and if so why hardness
rather than color or effect on bases or some other characteristic? Of
course, here again it is some particular problem that defines the search
for the general and directs attention to some class characteristics
rather than to others. Not only is the starting point of all reasoning
some definite situation for which there is no adequate response, but the
end point must naturally be the same. A particular problem demanding
solution is the cause for reasoning, and, of course, the end of the
process must be the solution of that problem.

From the foregoing it must not be concluded that the processes of
induction and deduction are manifested only in connection with
reasoning. n fact, their use as a conscious tool of technique in
reasoning comes only after considerable experience of their use when
there was no conscious purpose and no control. A little child's notion
of dog, or tree, or city--in fact, all his psychological concepts
necessitate the inductive movement, but it has taken place in his
spontaneous thinking and the meanings have evolved after considerable
experience without any definite control on his part. So with deduction.
As he recognizes this as a chestnut tree, that as a rocking chair, as he
decides that this is wrong or that it is going to clear, he is
classifying things, or conduct, or conditions, and so is following the
deductive movement. But the judgments may come as a result of past
experience, may be spontaneous and involve no protracted controlled
activity which has been defined as thinking. Man's mind works
spontaneously both inductively and deductively, and hence the
possibility of control of these operations later. Thinking is an
outgrowth of spontaneous activity; reasoning is but an application of
the natural laws of mental activity to certain situations.

The laws of readiness, exercise, and effect govern thinking just as they
do all other mental processes. Thinking is not independent of habit; it
is not a mysterious force other than association which deals with novel
data. Thinking is merely an exhibition of the laws of habit under
certain definite situations. At first sight this seems to be impossible,
because, as has been emphasized throughout this chapter, thinking takes
place when no satisfactory response is at hand and when nothing is
offered by past experience which is adequate. As a result of the
thinking, responses are reached which never before have occurred as a
result of that situation. Just the same they are reached only because of
the operation of the laws of habit. t must be borne in mind that the
laws of association do not work in such a way that only gross total
situations are bound to total responses. n man particularly, situations
are being continually broken up into elements, and those elements
connected with responses. Responses are being continually disintegrated,
and elements, instead of the whole response, being bound to situations.
Analysis is continually taking place merely as a result of the working
of these laws. f the nervous mechanism of man were not of this
hair-trigger variety, if elements did not emerge from a total complex as
a result of bonds formed, of readiness of certain tracts, no willing, no
attention on the part of the thinker, would ever bring about analysis.
This is made very vivid when one is met by a problem he cannot solve. f
the situation does not break up, if the right element does not emerge,
if the right cue is not given, he is helpless. All he can do is to hold
fast to his problem and wait. As the associations are offered, he can
select and reject, but that is all. The marvelous power of the genius,
the inventor, the reasoner in all fields, is merely an exhibition of the
laws of association working with extremely subtle elements. t seems to
transcend all experience because these elements and the bonds which
experience has formed cannot be observed. A child fails in his thinking
often because he uses his past experience and responds by analogy--we
note that fact and criticize him for it. But he succeeds for just the
same reason and by the use of just the same laws. James long ago showed
conclusively that association by similarity, which is one of the
prominent types used in reasoning, was only the law of habit working
with elements of novel data.

The fact that thinking is determined by its aim rather than by its
antecedents has also been given a mysterious place as apart from
association. The thinker who chose the right associate, the one that led
him towards his goal rather than some other, was called sagacious. But,
after all, this being governed by an aim is nothing more than the
operation of the law of readiness among intellectual bonds. One
associate is chosen and another rejected because one is more satisfying
than another. Certain bonds are made more ready than others because of
the general set or attitude of the thinker, and therefore any associate
using those bonds brings satisfaction and is retained. "The power that
moves the man of science to solve problems correctly is the same that
moves him to eat, sleep, rest, and play. The efficient thinker is not
only more fertile in ideas and more often productive of the 'right'
ideas than the incompetent is; he is also more satisfied by them when he
gets them, and more rebellious against the futile and misleading ones.
We trust to the laws of cerebral nature to present us spontaneously with
the appropriate idea, and also _to prefer that idea to others."_[11]

The reasons for failure of teachers and educators of all kinds to train
people to think are numerous. (1) Scarcity of brains which work
primarily in terms of connections between subtle elements,
relationships, etc. (2) Lack of knowledge or incorrect knowledge, due to
narrow experience or poor memory. (3) Lack of the necessary habits of
attention and criticism. (4) Lack of power of the more abstract and
intellectual operations to bring satisfaction, due partly to original
equipment and partly to training. (5) Lack of power to do independent
work, due to poor training. Schools cannot in any way make good the
deficiency which is due to a lack of mental capacity. They can, and
should, do something to provide knowledge which is well organized around
experiences which have proved vital to pupils. Something can undoubtedly
be done in the way of cultivating the habit of concentration of
attention, and of making more or less habitual the critical attitude.
Within the range of the ability which the individuals to be educated
possess, the school may do much to give training which will make
independent work or thinking more common in the experience of school
pupils, and therefore much more apt to be resorted to in the case of any
problematic situation.

Possibly the greatest weakness in our schools, as they are at present
constituted, is in the dependence of both teachers and children upon
text-books, laboratory manuals, lectures, and the like. n almost every
field of knowledge which is presented in our elementary and high
schools, more opportunity should be given for contact with life
activities. Such contacts should, in so far as it is possible, involve
the organization of the observations which are made with relation to
problems and principles which the subject seeks to develop. n nature
study or in geography in the elementary school many of the principles
involved are never really mastered by children, by virtue of the fact
that they merely memorize the words which are involved, rather than
solve any of the problems which may occur, either by virtue of their
intellectual interests, or on account of their meaning in everyday life.
The following of the instructions given in the laboratory manual does
not necessarily result in developing the spirit of inquiry or
investigation, nor even acquaint pupils with the method of the science
which is supposed to be studied.

Possibly the greatest contribution which a teacher can make to the
development of thinking upon the part of children is in discovering to
them problems which challenge their attention, the solution of which for
them is worth while. As has already been indicated, an essential element
in thinking is constantly to select from among the many associations
which may be available that one which will contribute to the particular
problem which we have in mind. The mere grouping of ideas round some
topic does not satisfy this requirement, for such a reciting of
paragraphs or chapters may amount simply to memorization and nothing
more. f a teacher can in geography or in history send children to their
books to find such facts as are available for the solution of a
particular problem, she is stimulating thought upon their part, and may
at the same time be giving them some command of the technique of inquiry
or of investigation. The class that starts to work, either in the
discussion during the recitation period, or when they work at their
seats, or at home, with a clear statement of the aim or problem may be
expected to do much more in the way of thinking than will occur in the
experience of those who are merely told to read certain parts of a book.
n a well-conducted recitation which involves thinking, the aim needs to
be restated a number of times in order that the selection of those
associations which are important, and the rejection of those which are
not pertinent, may continue over a considerable period.

n so far as it is possible, children should be made to feel
responsibility for the progress which is made in the solution of their
problems. They should be critical of the contributions made by each
other. They should be sincere in their expression of doubt, and in
questioning whenever they do not understand. Above all, if they are
really thinking, they need to have an opportunity for free discussion.
n classrooms in which children are seated in rows looking at the backs
of each other's heads and reciting to the teacher, the tendency is
simply to satisfy what the pupils conceive to be the demands of the
teacher, rather than to think and to attempt to resolve one's doubts. n
classes in which teachers provide not only for a statement of the
problem which is to be solved during the study period, but also for a
variety in assignments, children may be expected to bring to class
differences in points of view and in the data which they have collected.
n such a situation discussion is a perfectly normal process, and
thinking is stimulated.

As children pass through the several grades of the school system, they
ought to become increasingly conscious of the process of reasoning. They
should be asked to tell how they have arrived at their conclusions. They
should give the reason for their judgments. A great deal of loose
thinking would be avoided if we could in some measure establish the
habit upon the part of boys and girls of asking, "Will it work in all
cases?"; "What was assumed as a basis for arriving at the conclusion
which have accepted?"; "Are the data which have been brought together
adequate?"; "To what degree have the fallacies which are more or less
common in reasoning entered into my thinking?" t is not that one would
hope to give a course in logic to elementary or to high school children,
but rather that they should learn, out of the situations which demand
thought, constantly to check up their conclusions and to verify them in
every possible way. We may not expect by this method to create any
unusual power of thought, but we may in some degree provide for the
development of a critical attitude which will enable these same boys and
girls, both now and as they grow older, to discriminate between those
who merely dogmatize, and those who present a sound basis for their
reasoning, either in terms of a principle which can be accepted, or in
terms of observations or experiments which establish the conclusions
which they are asked to accept.

n all of the work which involves thinking, it is of the utmost
importance that we preserve upon the part of pupils, in so far as it is
possible, an open-minded attitude. t is well to have children in the
habit of saying with respect to their conclusions that in so far as they
have the evidence, this or that conclusion seems to be justified. t may
even be well to have them reach the conclusion in some parts of their
work that there are not sufficient data available upon which to base a
generalization, or that certain principles which are accepted as valid
by some thinkers are questioned by others, and that the conclusions
which are based upon principles which are not commonly accepted must
always be stated by saying: it follows, if you accept a particular
principle, that this particular conclusion will hold.

We need more and more to encourage the habit of independent work. We
must hope as children pass through our school system that they will grow
more and more independent in their statement of conclusions and of
beliefs. We can never expect that boys and girls, or men and women, will
reach conclusions on all of the questions which are of importance to
them, but it ought to be possible, especially for those of more than
usual capacity, to distinguish between the conclusions of a scientific
investigation and the statements of a demagogue. The use of whatever
capacity for independent thought which children possess should result in
the development of a group of open-minded, inquiring, investigating boys
and girls, eager and willing in confronting their common community
problems to do their own thinking, or to be guided by those who present
conclusions which are recognized as valid. They should learn to act in
accordance with well-established conclusions, even though they may have
to break with the traditions or superstitions which have operated to
interfere with the development of the social welfare of the group with
which they are associated.


1. How do children (and adults) most frequently solve their problems?

2. Under what conditions do children think and yet reach wrong
conclusions? Give examples.

3. Can first-grade children think? Give examples which prove your

4. What are the important elements to be found in all thinking?

5. Show how these elements may be involved in a first-grade lesson in
nature study. n an eighth-grade lesson in geography. n the teaching of
any high school subject.

6. When may habit formation involve thinking? Memorization?

7. Give five examples of problems which you believe will challenge the
brightest pupils in your class. Which would seem real and worth solving
to the duller members of the group?

8. How may the analysis of such ideas as come to mind, and the
abstraction of the part which is valuable for the solution of a
particular problem, be facilitated?

9. How do you distinguish between thinking and reasoning?

10. What are the essential elements in reasoning? Give an example of
reasoning as carried on by one solving a problem in arithmetic or
geometry, in geography, physics, or chemistry.

11. n what respects are the processes of induction and deduction alike?
n what do they differ?

12. At what stage of the inductive process is deduction involved?

13. Give examples of reasoning demanded in school work in which the
process is predominantly inductive. Deductive.

14. Why are the statements "nduction proceeds from particulars to
generals" and "Deduction from generals to particulars" inadequate to
describe either process?

15. n what sense is thinking dependent upon the operation of the laws
of habit?

16. To what degree is it possible to teach your pupils to think? Under
what limitations do you work?

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