For Families

Why does Metacognition Matter?

As you know, the most important educators of children are their parents. From the moment your babies are born, how you think sets the patterns of how they learn to think. You are shaping their minds. So using the skills of metacognition to understand how you think is a game changer in the family.

A mother sits on a wall talking happily with her child who is in a pushchair.

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?

A faintly coloured blank sheet depicting nothing in consciousness
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 clusters in thought, which we labelled ‘Thinking-Intentions’: Thunks for short. We gave each Thunk a colour and symbol so it is visually recognisable. Now we could see each one, distinctively. It was an exciting break-through. Later I put the clusters into ‘The Thunks Alphabet’.

A Hexagon, split into the Colours Green, Red and Blue with 24 Thunks icons
3. How to reveal the Thunks to people at work?

They had to be practical and useful for everyday situations, or no-one would ever pick them up. Cutting a long story short, several years later I found that people loved to assess their own Thunks, so that they could map them into their work and so raise their quality of thought. It was another exciting break-through.

Since then many thousands of men and women have assessed their Thunks, including scientists, artists, managers, health-workers, teachers, university students, and even teenage school children.

4. Now you can now assess your Thunks

Many people, who found assessing their Thunks so helpful in their business life, have asked for it to be made available beyond the workplace: “Why not at home?”  In order to do this, I established our educational Trust. And to give Thunks a child-friendly look, they are called ‘Thunkies’. Here they are.

5. Take your Assessment now

You can assess your own clusters of Thunks in their Green, Red and Blue groupings.

  • It is straight-forward, without charge.
  • It is reliable – as long as you honestly engage with it.
  • It isn’t a quick flip.
  • Have a go!

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