Intelligence is overrated.

Great thinkers are built, not born.

Let's talk about why 🪡

Intelligence means potential for good thinking, but many intelligent people never seize upon their potential.

They never learn *how* to think.

By contrast, many people are excellent thinkers, even without much natural talent. They had good teachers and practiced a lot.

Edward de Bono says intelligence is like a car 🚗

“A powerful car may be driven badly. A less powerful car may be driven well. The skill of the car driver determines how the power of the car is used.”

Schools don't teach kids *how* to think.

They teach math, history, and literature “just in case,” but all that goes to waste unless kids know what to do with it.

Good thinking is the skill of putting the available information to the best use possible.

Learning On Demand > Just in Case

In school we learn *just in case* from a fixed curriculum hoping that it will include something that will later be useful.

In real life we learn *on demand* when it best suits our needs, interest, and styles.

Good thinking is more than critical thinking, logic, and analysis.

It also includes creativity, exploration, design, and perception.

The best thinkers use a big tool box ⚒️📦

They’re skilled at both analytical and elastic thinking:

So, how do you learn to think?

And how do you teach your kids?

Edward de Bono wrote an amazing book on this exact topic:

de Bono encourages parents to teach their kids the different “thinking hats.”

⬜️ White Hat: Facts + figures + information

🟥 Red Hat: Emotions + feelings + intuitions

⬛️ Black Hat: Caution + truth + judgement

🟨 Yellow Hat: Advantages + benefits + savings

🟩 Green Hat: Exploration + proposals + suggestions

🟦 Blue Hat: Thinking about thinking + Control of the thinking process

Too often, we act like the White Hat (facts) and Black Hat (judgement) are the only valuable perspectives.

But good thinkers use all six hats.


They also consider their emotions, evaluate upsides, propose crazy ideas, and monitor their overall thinking process.

The six hats help kids see with a wide-angle lens 📷

Kids learn to broaden their perception and use a diverse set of mental skills.

In other words, they build wisdom ✨

Wisdom is the goal of good thinking.

It's the habit of observing the breadth of a situation. And unlike intelligence, wisdom is not a natural-born talent.

It’s also not the natural product of age.

We’ve all met wise kids and foolish adults!

Wisdom comes from deliberate practice.

It requires mentorship and experience solving complex problems.

In the right learning environment, kids can build more wisdom in a year than many adults learn their entire lives 🤸🏼

At @synthesischool we’re designing simulations to help kids build wisdom✨

Kids work in teams to stop forest fires, run movie studios, and build fishing businesses.

They learn they can’t just use logic to win the games. They need to practice creativity, teamwork and perception.

Intelligence is a potential— and for that potential to be fully used, kids need to develop a tool box of thinking skills.

Without such skills, the potential is under-used.

We can use de Bono’s “Thinking Hats method” to help kids develop this big tool box of mental skills 📦🤸🏼

Alright, let’s recap:

🧠 Good thinking ≠ intelligence

✨ Wisdom is the goal of good thinking

📦 Good thinking requires a big tool box of mental skills

💭 Wisdom can be taught, it’s a matter of teaching perception - not just logic.

I explore ideas like this in Fab Fridays, my newsletter on childhood education with a twist + new ways to learn.
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