How We Think is a classic work in the field of educational philosophy and psychology written by John Dewey. Published in 1910, the book— “How We Think” explores the nature of thinking and the cognitive processes involved in problem-solving and decision-making. It argues that thinking is an active, dynamic process that involves a complex interplay between individual experience, context, and social interactions.
Table of contents
- Chapter 1: The Problem of Training Thought
- Chapter 2: The Need for a Theory of Thinking
- Chapter 3: The Analysis of a Complete Act of Thought
- Chapter 4: The Nature of Reflective Thinking
- Chapter 5: Types of Thinking
- Chapter 6: The Training of Thought
- Chapter 7: The Relation of Thought to Language
- Chapter 8: Training of Perception and Observation
- Chapter 9: The Training of Memory
- Chapter 10: The Nature of the Concrete and Abstract
- Chapter 11: Science as Subject-Matter and as Method
- Chapter 12: The Nature of Thinking in the Curriculum
In the preface, John Dewey outlines the purpose of the book, which is to provide a detailed analysis of the process of thinking, with a view to developing a theory of education that is based on a scientific understanding of the cognitive processes involved in learning. He argues that traditional theories of education, which focus on memorization and rote learning, fail to take into account the active nature of thinking and the importance of context and experience in the learning process.
Chapter 1: The Problem of Training Thought
In this chapter, Dewey argues that the purpose of education should be to train students to think critically and creatively, rather than simply to memorize facts and figures. He suggests that the traditional approach to education, which focuses on the acquisition of knowledge rather than the development of thinking skills, is outdated and ineffective. Instead, he advocates for an approach that emphasizes active learning, experimentation, and problem-solving.
Chapter 2: The Need for a Theory of Thinking
In this chapter, John Dewey argues that in order to develop a successful theory of education, it is necessary to have a comprehensive understanding of the process of thinking. He identifies three key aspects of thinking: the acquisition of knowledge, the organization of knowledge, and the application of knowledge. He argues that these three aspects are interconnected and that they form the basis of all cognitive processes.
Chapter 3: The Analysis of a Complete Act of Thought
In this chapter, Dewey provides a detailed analysis of the process of thinking, using a hypothetical example of a person solving a problem. He identifies six key stages in the process of thinking: the recognition of the problem, the formation of a tentative hypothesis, the collection of data, the testing of the hypothesis, the interpretation of the results, and the formulation of a final conclusion. He emphasizes the importance of flexibility and adaptability in the thinking process, and the need to be open to new information and ideas.
Chapter 4: The Nature of Reflective Thinking
In this chapter, Dewey explores the concept of reflective thinking, which he defines as the process of actively evaluating and analyzing one’s own thoughts and experiences. He argues that reflective thinking is essential for effective problem-solving and decision-making, as it allows individuals to critically evaluate their own biases and assumptions. He suggests that reflective thinking can be developed through practice and that it is an essential component of lifelong learning.
Chapter 5: Types of Thinking
In this chapter, Dewey identifies several different types of thinking, including inductive thinking, deductive thinking, creative thinking, and critical thinking. He argues that each type of thinking is useful in different contexts and that individuals should be trained in all types of thinking in order to be effective problem-solvers.
Chapter 6: The Training of Thought
In this chapter, Dewey outlines his vision for an education system that is focused on the development of thinking skills. He suggests that students should be taught to think critically and creatively, to experiment and take risks, and to learn from their mistakes. He argues that traditional methods of education, which rely on memorization and repetition, are inadequate for developing thinking skills and that a new approach is needed.
Chapter 7: The Relation of Thought to Language
In this chapter, Dewey explores the relationship between thought and language, arguing that language is a crucial tool for thinking and communicating. He suggests that language allows individuals to express their thoughts and ideas to others, and that it also plays a role in shaping and organizing our thoughts. He argues that language is not simply a tool for communication, but also a fundamental aspect of human cognition.
Chapter 8: Training of Perception and Observation
In this chapter, Dewey discusses the importance of perception and observation in the thinking process. He argues that individuals must learn to observe and perceive the world around them in order to develop effective thinking skills. He suggests that students should be trained to observe their environment and to use their senses to gather information and make judgments.
Chapter 9: The Training of Memory
In this chapter, Dewey explores the role of memory in the thinking process. He argues that memory is not simply a passive storage system, but an active and dynamic component of cognition. He suggests that individuals must learn to use their memory effectively, by organizing information and making connections between different pieces of information.
Chapter 10: The Nature of the Concrete and Abstract
In this chapter, Dewey discusses the distinction between concrete and abstract thinking. He suggests that concrete thinking is based on direct experience and perception, while abstract thinking involves the use of symbols and concepts to represent the world. He argues that both types of thinking are necessary for effective problem-solving, and that individuals must learn to move between concrete and abstract thinking as the situation requires.
Chapter 11: Science as Subject-Matter and as Method
In this chapter, Dewey explores the role of science in the thinking process. He argues that science provides both a subject matter for thinking (i.e. the natural world) and a method for thinking (i.e. the scientific method). He suggests that the scientific method provides a useful model for critical thinking, and that students should be taught to think scientifically in order to develop effective thinking skills.
Chapter 12: The Nature of Thinking in the Curriculum
In this final chapter, John Dewey discusses the role of thinking in the curriculum. He argues that thinking should be a central component of education, and that it should be integrated into all subjects and activities. He suggests that the traditional subject-based approach to education is inadequate for developing thinking skills, and that a more holistic and integrated approach is needed.
Dewey, J. (1910). How We Think. Lexington, MA: D.C. Heath and Company.
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