Please visit Thinking Skills for the Digital Generation by Athreya and Mouza at

Friday, March 13, 2009

Chapter 6: Introduction to other topics

Dear friends:

When I started this site I wanted to reach children. But I realized that I cannot write for children, since it requires an understanding of intellectual and linguistic development at different ages. For, example, children cannot understand abstract concepts at least until after age 11or 12. I cannot use the same language to teach a 6 year old and a 10 year old. In addition, they may or may not be able to access this site. I also realized that the best way to educate children is through parents. That is why I addressed the site to my grand children, but used a language only adults can understand. My wish and hope is that you find the ideas expressed in these essays stimulate your thinking and you find them useful enough to pass on to your children, your grand children and to all the children you know.

Let me restate,in the following paragraphs, my reasons for staring this virtual school for thinking and writing these essays .

There is information overload
There is a mass of good information
Also, misinformation, wrong information, and dangerous information
Too many people are trying to influence us
And they use emotionally loaded words.

Our listening skills are not well developed
Our logic is too rigid
There is very little available time to think
We are not given tools to think with.

Besides, Reasoning is often equated with Thinking.
It is more than that, say Edward de Bono and Chester Barnard.
Because reasoning is logic based.
It includes deductions, inductions, logic and their associated fallacies
These tools are useful for reductionism needed in science
and to reconstruct the past,
But not to think about subjective data such as values, emotions and judgment,
and to think about the future.

The future is not fully knowable.
To think about the future, the old definition of thinking is not adequate.
To think about the future, we have to have an open mind
We need creativity and imagination and vision
We need humility and respect for the unknowable
We need to add values and emotions to our equations
We need prudence and allowance for the surprises (flexibility)
That is why the new emphasis on creative thinking,
and new thinking habits.

Above all, we need time to think
And tools to think with

That is why I am working on this website.

Before we proceed, a few caveats.
I do not claim any originality to these ideas
Indeed they came out of my readings, followed by reflections
Therefore, I will refer you to the relevant passages in
some of the classic articles and books.
My hope is that some of you will go to the source.

My idea is to share these thoughts from several sources
So the future generations may think about them too.

In some issues, I have my own ideas
And when I come across a passage which resonates with mine
And the author had expressed the ideas better than I ever can,
I will reproduce the passage, if I can get permission,
and refer to the original.
You will see this approach in the essays on Spirituality and
The new Dharma for the 21st century.

I will also summarize my positions on some issues
I do not hold on to them; hope you don’t either
They are not final
With new information and insights, I may change my ideas.

There will be some essays written specially for our younger friends
For example, the essay on Form and Substance
that deals with Symbolism in Hinduism
Is meant for our young friends.

I have included thinking tools in several places
You may wish to use them too
And if you do use them or
Know other tools to think with
Please share them with every one
By sending in your comments.

Thank you. Balu

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