"If society cannot find ways to make integrated understanding accessible to large numbers of people, then the information revolution is not only useless but a threat to humane civilization." (Root-Bernstein, 29)

The authors highlight the disconnect between what is learned in school and what people utilize in real world situations. It is thought that the 13 thinking tools examined in this book will help bridge that gap.

Juster, architect/designer, author, in his book, The Phantom Tollbooth, informs the reader that the educational system has a "two culture" problem, a kingdom of words and a kingdom of numbers. The two kingdom problem causes an inability of those in science and those in arts and letters to communicate. Our educational system teaches intellectual illusions, but students are not able to fit what they have learned into the reality of life. As example, a student who did exceptionally well in physics class could not apply the mathematical principle of torque to open a heavy door. This student just could not relate his academic knowledge to an everyday activity in the real world.

The skill of learning how to imagine what it would feel like to be inside a physical system is gained through drawing, creating models, paying attention to intuition, and seeing and feeling things in the mind. In other words, book work must be connected with real experience of the world.

Harvard psychologist, Leon Eisenberg, perceives that, "There is something very much wrong about what has been learned when the skills are not transferable." (p. 17)

It is not enough that students know about things, but they must understand them.

On the other hand, some people have gained by actual doing (building of fixing) a lot of hand knowledge but lack greatly in symbolic knowledge.

What is needed is a flow of both symbolic knowledge and hand knowledge gained through internal imagination and external experience. There are (as described in chapters 3-16) many tools to creative understanding and all must be used as a whole to link mind and body, sense and sensibility with the goal being a thinking education. The author concludes that these tools need to be holistically used to bring together knowledge of mind with knowledge of body, cultivate imagination along with intellect, to reveal details of thinking and creating so that unexpected surprises light up our lives.

How do you make your classroom lessons applicable to the real world? Please share some examples and ideas below.

Language Arts (grades 5-8):
I often encourage students to enter contests to practice writing for a real audience. The 7th graders are going to enter the Native American essay contest sponsored by Maine's Secretary of State Office this year. The 8th graders are also welcome to enter since they participated in an intensive Wabanaki studies unit last year.

Physics (grades 10-12):
I ask students to bring a photo of an experience into physics class and apply the universal principles to their life examples. Through an assignment similar to the AAPT's High School Photo Contest students relate physics concepts to their real life examples.

Engineering Design (grades 11-12):
In this class, the engineering design cycle is used to create each project. To make the class applicable to the real world, I assign students relevant and timely projects that support current school or community needs. For example, during the beginning of the fall semester students designed computer storage units to support the Mt. Blue HS 1:1 laptop initiative.