Why Cognitive Six Is Necessary?


Quite a long time ago when I was team teaching in a program called Higher Horizons I became involved in teaching thinking in my science classes. At several of our team meetings we’d commented on how students seemed to be different. They weren’t telling us when they didn’t understand…the expression   “I don’t get it” – seemed to be missing. Testing seemed to be the way we learned who “got it” and who didn’t. “Are they thinking about what they are being asked to learn?” we pondered.

At that time (Mid 1970’s) there were federally funded teacher centers and there we found a course and manual on teaching thinking: my colleague, Thomas Smith, the language arts instructor, and I both took the course and started using the material. We have been doing so ever since! Recently we decided to upgrade the manual, and with the help of editing guidance by Sharon Smith are soon to publish The Cognitive Six: A Guide to Teaching Thinking.

The Cognitive Six is based on the work of the late Albert Upton, Professor of English at Whittier College. In his book Design for Thinking* (1973.) He describes six fundamental and natural forms of thought. Shortly thereafter the team of Sager, Marr and Kovacs created the Cognitive Skills Manual*that provided practical teaching formats for instruction based on Upton’s work.

The manual and accompanying training course is what inspired me and Tom. Our Cognitive Six is based on the earlier Cognitive Skills Manual.

So what are these six ways in which we naturally think day in and day out? YOU WILL RECOGNIZE THEM!

We name things, we describe them, we classify all sorts of information, we compare/contrast and create analogies, we learn and recognize parts and wholes, and we arrange some kinds of information in sequence.

Learning to identify the six thinking skills and practice using them provides more variety in instructional material, enables learners to more readily analyze and manage information, and provides a base for critical and creative thinking.

For example, from compare/contrast: Analogies it is easy to create and analyze metaphors, while classification readily leads to categorical syllogisms.

August is our goal for publication.

So keep checking back!

If  you like some examples from the book? Let me know.