There have been quite a few posts going around the traps lately listing the top [insert number here] things we can do to fix climate change. Of course, these types of posts have been around for quite a while, but for some reason they seem to be prominent in my part of the world. And whilst they are all filled with useful tips, or at least the ones I have seen, they all miss the most important and most effective thing we can do to fix climate change/chaos/uncertainty – Improve the Way We Think!
Thinking is important, as is how we think! Edward de Bono reports that he started a school program teaching the students about thinking and different thinking techniques. At the end of the year, all the students in the thinking program performed much better in their final assessments across all subjects than those who had not attended the thinking program, even though the thinking program students had not received any additional tutoring in their standard subjects. The key was their ability to think beyond our accepted norm.
One of the biggest thinking hurdles we need to over come is Paradigms – the tendency to stick to established practices and/or thinking rather than fully evaluate the target thought or action to see if there is a better way to arrive at the desired solution – or even whether the desired solution is the best one.
Permaculture, especially the Permaculture Design Course (PDC) has a profound effect on the way PDC students think, which in turn has a profound effect on their lives. The trap though, once we start this Permaculture journey, is to simply go with the flow, do what others do, rather than fully explore the problem/requirement/objective and all possible solutions. It is also important that we think outside the Permaculture box. That is, despite that ubiquitous reply we hear so often from Permaculturists – “It Depends!” – it is all to easy to fall into the Permaculture Paradigm.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not criticising Permaculture per se, no, no, not at all. I am simply suggesting that the weakest link we face to the ongoing success of Permaculture is our thinking, something we need to be always improving. In short, we need to be employing Metacognition, we need to think about our thinking.
Permaculture operates on many levels, and people are involved in Permaculture on many levels. Some just like to get their hands in the dirt, some like to design, some like to work in expanding and improving Permaculture as a design system. No matter at what level people are operating within the Permaculture world, a change of thinking is needed, and it is of great benefit to always keep a eye on our thinking to ensure we don’t fall in to habits, old or new.
We also need to maintain flexibility in our thinking. When we come up against a problem that isn’t solved by any of the methods with which we are familiar, then we need to look at the problem with new eyes and come up with a solution that fits the particular problem.
Sadly, thinking is generally not taught in schools, unless one is lucky enough to be included in a de Bono course. Children’s minds are full of the wonders of this world, but the education system seems designed to dull this down as the children grow up. Wouldn’t it be good if they were instead taught how to think and the different thinking techniques available.
There are so many different thinking techniques out there that we don’t use. Indeed, there is so much about thought and thinking that we don’t yet understand, may not ever. Yet still we find ourselves using the same patterns of thinking over and over without exploring additional possibilities.
Nothing happens in the human world without first thinking. Imagine how better we could make this world if our thinking was improved.