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

ht."[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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