Text of this morning's thought:
This weekend, I had the unusual experience of not just following the news, but being in it. The BBC and the Independent were among those who reported that Wellington School, in Berkshire, had appointed two people to help their students to think better. One is to be the thinker in residence while I am to become their philosopher in residence.
People often guffaw at initiatives like this. For example, some of you may remember the derision heaped upon the Bristol Festival of Ideas four years ago when it appointed its own thinker-in-residence. One Telegraph columnist took a typically dim view of the job, saying “all he has to do is shut his eyes and get on with it.”
But ideas often sound silly when they're new and unfamiliar. For instance, do you think that people would laugh at the idea of appointing a Rabbi-in-Residence at a university or prison? They might, if they forgot that such people already exist: they're called Jewish chaplains.
In thinking, as in much else, we're creatures of habit and we often confuse what we know with what is good; what we believe with what is true; and what is normal with what is right.
To break out of these habits, you have to think for yourself. But anyone can do that. Like cooking for yourself, the real test is how well you do it.
So I'm glad that schools are taking the development of thinking skills seriously. Far from being a wacky add-on, thinking should be at the heart of education. After all, cramming heads with information is not much use to children if we don't teach them what to do with it.