Post #3: How to have a beautiful mind, (week four and five)

In-depth post #3 (week four and five)

De Bono continues his discussion of how to have a beautiful mind with “how to be interesting” and “how to respond.”

Let’s start with how to be interesting. He suggests to talk about what you are passionate about. Sounds like talking about your in-depth project is a perfect fit. You will need to be able to talk about it with people who know nothing about the topic, for example your peers and/or teachers! Secondly, you need to be able to talk about it with people who know something about it, such as your mentors. There are different types of interests: sharing information, asking “what if” types of questions, offering possibilities, alternatives and speculations and making connections between them and practising creativity and new ideas. De Bono suggests that we get into the habit of saying, “Now that is interesting” (p. 49), because it pauses the conversation, stating it “Opens up possibilities and alternatives. You will make connections” (p. 49). In other words, you will have to explain why you find that point interesting.

During your next session with your mentor try…

  • #6 To find and make connections that link matters together and generates interest.
  • #10 To explore, to elaborate and to pull interest out of the matter.
  • #3 To use the “what if” statement to get to new lines of thought.

De Bono states that there are three objectives to a conversation: to reach agreement, to agree on the points of difference and to have an interesting time together. How do we reply or respond to parts of the conversation will further direct the conversation. There are a number of reasons to respond to a comment: asking for clarification, offering support, sharing examples and stories, building on the conversation points, extending the discussion, carrying the discussion forward into practice or modifying the proposition being stated.

During the next two weeks, try

  • #2 to ask for clarification whenever you are unclear or in doubt about something the mentor tells you or shows you.
  • #3 to support a point your mentor makes with additional facts, figures, evidence etc.
  • # 5 to share a personal story that illustrates the conversation topic.
  • # 10 to modify an idea to make it more acceptable to yourself and to make it stronger or more practical.

Have fun this week.

Quirien Mulder ten Kate

Post #2: How to have a beautiful mind (week two and three)

The in-depth this year will incorporate a discussion and application of Edward de Bono’s book, called How to Have a Beautiful Mind. What can you do to make your mind more beautiful? Others, in particular your in-depth project mentors, will appreciate having beautiful conversations with you. This project’s secondary purpose focuses on conducting and analyzing conversations between you and your mentor. You are going to learn from your mentor by careful observations as well as conversations about your observations of his or her craft. This in-depth project is not about reading about your craft but about practicing your craft. The habits described in this book have to be practiced, too. What better way, then trying to explore and experience some of these habits with your mentor?

The first three habits are how to agree, how to disagree and how to differ. Read the corresponding three sections in your book. For the in-depth followers who do not have this resource, here is a brief summary.

  1. How to agree? It is important that you do not agree or disagree with everything your mentor is telling you. This would be rather irritating. As a mentee who is starting to learn a new skill with a mentor who is the expert, being right all the time in an argument or any situation is not helpful in this relationship. You are trying to explore the craft alongside your mentor with mutual respect and patience. Everyone has their own logic bubble that is formed by perceptions, values, needs and experiences. Seeing where that person is “coming from” helps you see their logic (p. 6). Also, find a special circumstance in which or a certain value for which an idea may make sense. Generalizations also get us into trouble.

During your next session with your mentor try to follow some of de Bono’s guidelines for how to agree (p. 11). For example:

  1. #7 See if there are any circumstances in which the other person’s views might be right.
  2. #6 Make a real effort to see where the other person is coming from.
  3. #1 Genuinely seek to find points of agreement in what the other person is saying.

How to disagree? Being able to disagree helps us tell the truth as well as “investigate any issue objectively and fully” (p. 14). Make sure that when you disagree you are polite. Reasons to disagree are, for example, errors in logic, limited interpretation of data and selective perception. Is the disagreement objective or does it come from emotions, different experiences, sweeping generalizations and extrapolations. De Bono states, “You may be willing to accept something as a “possibility” but very unwilling to accept it as a “certainty” (p. 22). Do not just say you disagree, but state the type of disagreement (see p. 24).

During your next session with your mentor try to follow some of de Bono’s guidelines for how to disagree (p. 26). For example:

  1. #2 Do not disagree just to show how clever you are or to boost your ego.
  2. #8 You may want to disagree to show a different personal experience.
  3. #12 Distinguish between having a different opinion and disagreeing with an opinion.
  1. How to differ?

One difference is on one opinion being right and the other being wrong. The second difference has to do with opinions about the future which can be right or wrong as time will tell. There are many sources for differences in opinion: personal preferences, values, points of view and different personal experiences. It is best to spell out the difference in opinions and the reasons for this difference. Sometimes we need to accept a difference of opinions and while at other times, terms may need to be clarified that led to a difference of opinion.

During your next session with your mentor try to follow some of de Bono’s guidelines for how to differ (p. 19). For example:

  1. When a difference arises, try to figure out what this difference is based on.
  2. Can a difference be reconciled? Which difference and how can it be reconciled?
  3. Do you and your mentor have a different opinion of the future? How so?
  4. What are some of the opinions of your mentor? How do they compare to yours?

Task: In your second in-depth post comment on your progress so far and how you were able to incorporate the first three aspects of how to have a beautiful mind.

In-depth Post #1: Let’s get started.

In-depth Study: Two Universal Goals.

The in-depth project is the TALONS’ program final pillar of the school year.  The in-depth project has two main goals:

1. Know something about everything and everything about something.

In school you are usually taught about many subjects.  In this project, the goal is to learn a great deal about one field of activity, usually not available in a school setting.

2. Learn what others tell you is important and learn what you decide is important.

In school you are told what to learn and how to learn it.  In this project, you will decide in what field and with what strategies, you will become an “expert.”


We are interested in three components of your study.

1. The process: as young people, you will be learning patterns of behavior that will emphasize your strengths and that will help you overcome any difficulties.

–          Project will last at least five months

–          Your bi-weekly blog will demonstrate the process:

Blogging Criteria

Post includes: thorough progress report, includes information on mentor, describes frustrations, overcoming obstacles, includes evidence that illustrates process and product, includes modifications to project, includes relevant research, quotes, articles, references, websites etc, shows a caring about project.  Entry makes sense, is written concisely. 4
Includes most of the above description, but in less detail. 3
Includes about half of the above description, but in little detail.  Little progress is demonstrated. 2
In-depth study is progressing too slowly.  Entry is vague.  Demonstrates that not much effort has been made since last entry. 1
Not completed or handed in on time 0

2. The product: The product will include three areas:

i.            The evidence of learning

ii.            The source of self-esteem

iii.            The cause for celebration

3. The mentor: The relationship with the expert in your field.  This relationship will include three areas:

i.          Meeting with mentor on regularly basis

ii.         Expanding network in community

iii.       Getting feedback on progress

iv.       Obtaining an in-depth understanding of chosen field.

The learner’s first entry introduces their project, reasons for their choice and a description of their mentors.  In two weeks, learners will report back about their mentor and first few weeks of progress.

Quirien Mulder ten Kate