Five steps into Metacognition

Introduced by Jerry Rhodes

1. The problem: thinking is invisible

Normally you never think about your thinking. You just do it – without ever considering how you do it. It’s a bit like playing tennis, football, snooker or any other physical game, without knowing how you are using your body. You can get so far… but if you want to play a game really well you need to understand ‘how’ to use your body – and then steer the changes, consciously. But since thinking is invisible, how can you do this?

thinking is invisible
2. The answer: make thinking visible

It all started many years ago with my interest in creativity. I began by identifying what makes some people very creative. This drew me into a research project in Philips, Eindhoven, with the question “How do effective people think?”

During our four-year investigation we identified universal core thinking activities. We labelled them ‘Thinking-Intentions’: affectionately called them Thunks – this name stuck! So easy to recognise. We clustered them into three groups to signify the three central Super Thunks. It was an exciting break-through.

3. How to make this useful for people at work?

Cutting a long story short, several years later I found that people loved to assess their own thinking. So we created an Assessment questionnaire. It worked so well for everyone that it has been translated into 6 other languages besides English. It was another exciting break-through.

Since then many thousands of men and women in business and universities have assessed their thinking, including scientists, artists, managers, health-workers, teachers, university students, and teenage children at school.

Superthunk hexagon in crowd
4. Why not at home?

Many people at work found this so helpful that they asked, “Why not at home?” In order to do this, I established our educational Trust. Alongside our new Assessment for folk at home, we added child-friendly cartoon characters, called Thunkies. Parents could then also bring their own chldren into this wonderful world of Metacognition. Here are the children’s three central Super Thunkies.

the Three Super Thunkies, jumping and dancing
5. Now you can assess your Thinking at home
    • It is straight-forward, without charge.
    • It is reliable – as long as you honestly engage with it.
    • On completion you will get your own Assessment Results and Introduction to Thunks. If you are a parent you can ‘Meet the Thunkies’ as well
    • Give it 15 minutes – it needs your attention, as it is not a quick flip.