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7 Ways Thinking Aloud Makes You a Better Thinker and Learner

7 Ways Thinking Aloud Makes You a Better Thinker and Learner

It is never a sign of insanity to think aloud, it also enhances your mental ability. It is also called private speech. It enables you to achieve focus. It is a behavioral pattern that you should practice daily to achieve self-regulation.

As a child, you learned by thinking aloud. It was a form of demonstrating your knowledge or opening yourself to learn

You sound out words, express ideas, form sentences. Anytime you were corrected, you rehearse until you have imitated correctly or conformed to the established model in the family, school, or neighborhood, etc.

As you grow older, you internalize this act of thinking aloud, and your speech shifts to interpersonal communication.

So what are the seven ways thinking aloud can help you think and learn better?

1. Spur Curiosity During Learning

The goal of curiosity is to enable you to gain a more in-depth knowledge of things that are crucial within the scope of our experience of the world. This covers the concepts you have learned in school and those that are relevant to your daily lives.

Individuals who think aloud are usually curious about the different range of topics and develop broad interests. Thinking aloud helps you retain inquisitiveness about people and the world around you. It enables you to gain an in-depth understanding of beliefs, culture, and viewpoints that are shared aspects of what makes us human. Those who think aloud are lifelong learners.

They are lifelong learners because they are naturally and practice critical thinking. Thinking aloud will help you apply your best thinking habit to solve complex problems. It also helps you to achieve constructive outcomes.

As you think aloud, you will find answers to crucial questions. You don’t make decisions based on assumptions, but you can explore the topics deeper. You also gain deeper facts locked up within the information.

2. Enhance Your Creativity

Creativity is one of the most significant skills you need to survive beyond school. Learners who think aloud nurtures their creativity and the ability to solve problems. It is a requisite skill to collaborate in the workplace.

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The tendency to think aloud means you can transfer the same knowledge and process to more complex problems to achieve effective results.

Thinking aloud is relevant in business, marketing, and professional networks. It helps you to develop creativity on how to advertise, increase revenue, and advance your career.

You will also learn to question assumptions about different topics. When you think aloud, you ask ‘how’ or ‘why not?

Private speech has limitless potentials. This applies to young and old learners. It will enable you to train your brain to be creative.

3. Reinforce Your Problem-Solving Skill

You become an instinctual problem solver when you think aloud. Problem-solving has been ranked to be the most crucial ability that you can build on as a learner. You will be positioned to address complex by thinking aloud about how to engineer innovative solutions.

Albert Einstein once said,

‘ It’s not that I am smart; it’s just that I stay with problems longer.’

He once propounded that when you are allocated one hour to perform a task, spend 55 minutes to define and research the problem while you spend 5 minutes to solve it. Private speech affords you this kind of commitment and patience. It is also the very reason you will learn how to understand the problem and solve it effectively.

Thinking aloud also positions you to face complex problems to survive, succeed, and be significant in life.

When you think aloud, you can curate solutions to big problems such as overpopulation, global warming, water shortages, energy crises, pollution, need for health care, and electronic waste management etc.

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As these problems and others continue to evolve, those who think aloud would continue to be relevant in producing lasting solutions to them.

4. Cultivate Multi-Faceted Skill

As you think aloud, you are nurturing, not just a skill, but many skills.

Thinking aloud is a cross-curricular cognitive talent. It exercises your mind, and once your mind is empowered, you will not only stay healthy, but you will be more productive.

Thinking aloud enhances your:

  • Observational skills
  • Reasoning skills
  • Logical thinking
  • Evaluative skills
  • Language skills
  • Organizational and planning skills
  • Open-mindedness
  • Creative visualization methods
  • Decision making

The list is inexhaustive, but this is an overview of what you develop and promote when you think aloud in your daily lives.

5. Foster Independence

Thinking aloud helps you think independently, which is of the most essential learning goals. It helps you to become independent during the learning process.

You don’t depend on the instructor to achieve learning outcomes, but you learn to take responsibility for your learning. The keyword here is ‘responsibility.’ When you learn how to be more responsible while learning, you can learn how to take charge of your life.

Thinking aloud will not only position you as a great learner but a great thinker and leader. You will learn how to appreciate the world from your point of view and experience. You become more confident, and you learn from your mistakes as you build a successful and productive life.

Thinking aloud helps you to be self-directed as a learner. Your thinking becomes organized. It also means this kind of proactive thinking ability becomes part of you as you nurture it through the lifelong learner.

When you are successful in your thinking ability, you can make progress beyond learning in your future pursuits and relationship with pride and confidence.

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6. Improve Your Reading Comprehension

You become motivated to identify the distinctions between reading words and understanding the text when you apply the process of thinking aloud. You also gain insights into the reading complexities and expand your understanding of what it means to be a great reader.

How does this apply to life? You will learn how to read through assumptions and base your knowledge on realities.

7. Develop a Life Skill

You develop a lifelong skill, not just a learning skill, as you think aloud. According to John Dewey,

‘Education is not preparation for life; it is life itself.’

Thinking aloud helps you to become successful within and beyond the classroom. You learn how to lead your life through life.

The bottom line is you don’t need your teachers once you have completed a learning phase; you become the leader and the teacher. Learning also becomes a continuum for you.

How to Adopt the Thinking Aloud Strategy

Thinking aloud or private speed is a crucial learning tool. The more you engage your brain in different dimensions, the more you can connect and retain what you learn.

You read, create diagrams or pictures, use motion or music, converse with others, and with yourself. Most time, you talk through with your friends or in a group to recall a topic you have learned. In other cases, you may not need a second party to think aloud.

Thinking aloud helps you to leverage multiple senses and personal experiences in processing and to reinforce your learning.

You can think aloud to:

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  • memorize vocabulary by vocalizing the words
  • talk through mathematical problems to arrive at possible solutions
  • edit papers by reading the words aloud
  • appreciate poetry through dramatization.

Here are three ways to think aloud:

1. Spot the Juicy Tipping Points

The first approach to adopt if you want to think aloud is to sift through the text.

Read the text while holding your sticky notes, search for spots to make inferences, ask questions or think through the intent of the author. These are the juicy tipping points that lead to the next challenge or comprehension opportunities.

2. Know When and Where to Think Aloud

Examine each tipping point and reflect on the purpose of the point. This will help you scale down the points to more manageable points, so you don’t become overburdened or detracted from the process.

You need to also factor in the purpose of picking the text you want to learn, your objective, and the strategies you are familiar with before reading the text.

3. Write on Sticky Notes

Writing on sticky notes provides a guide for your thought pattern during the learning process.

It helps you to stick to what’s significant and discard what’s less prominent. It also helps you to be purposeful throughout the learning process.

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If you want to be a great thinker and a lifelong learner, thinking aloud shouldn’t be a one-time exercise for you, but an all-the-time endeavor. You will become productive in your personal life and also become relevant to the world.

More About Thinking Smart

Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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Published on November 23, 2020

How to Develop Big Picture Thinking And Think More Clearly

How to Develop Big Picture Thinking And Think More Clearly

Your neighbors downstairs are playing loud music. Again. How do they not get tired of partying? And why do they choose songs with such a heavy downbeat that the glass in your cupboard is vibrating every two seconds? What can you do to get some peace that you deserve? What should you?

Human mind tends to go in circles whenever faced with a problem without a clear solution. It becomes easy to forget the big picture and get lost in anger and self-pity, wasting our precious time, energy and enthusiasm.

Would it not be nice if we always remembered to put things in perspective?

Would it not be more efficient to face all kinds of problems, from tiny annoyances to life-changing emergencies, with a calm demeanor, sharp focus and fearless determination to promptly take the most efficient action possible?

Alas, humans are not like that. All too often we let anxiety or greed get the best of us and make a rushed or shortsighted decision that we quickly come to regret. Other times, we spend weeks or months at an impasse, rehashing the exact same arguments, unable to accept the compromise required to move forward with any of the available options.

Buddhists talk about getting lost in the “small self.” In this state of mind, we literally forget the big picture and focus on the small one. We start taking our daily problems too personally and, paradoxically, becomes less capable of solving them in an efficient manner. And this is the opposite of big picture thinking.

Let me share with you a story related to big picture thinking…

In 1812, the French army of Napoleon Bonaparte invaded Russia.[1] After a decisive Battle of Borodino, the capture of Moscow and therefore Napoleon’s victory in the war seemed inevitable.

Unexpectedly, the Russian Commander-in-Chief Mikhail Kutuzov made a highly controversial decision of retreating and allowing the French to capture Moscow. Much of the population had been evacuated taking supplies with them. The city itself was set on fire and large parts of it burned into the ground.

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After waiting in vain for Russia to capitulate, Napoleon had to retreat in the middle of a bitterly cold winter. He won the battle but lost the war. The campaign ended in a disaster and the near destruction of the French army.

What can we learn from this historical lesson?

1. Focus on the Consequences

Napoleon focused on the important part: capturing Moscow. Nobody could accuse him of thinking small. Yet he overlooked that the Russian army could still fight even after giving up the country’s most important city.

So was Moscow not an important target after all?

Success expert Brian Tracy has a litmus test: things are important to the extent that they have important consequences. Things are unimportant to the extent that they have no important consequences.[2]

When faced with a choice, ask yourself, what would be the consequences of each option?

  • Want to spend an hour studying or watching the new series on Netflix? What would be the consequences of each option? Netflix can sometimes be a better choice, but it helps to put things in perspective.
  • Want to maintain your apartment by yourself or to pay a cleaning service? Would would be the consequences of each option?
  • Want to meet up for coffee with this acquaintance of yours or catch up on your work instead? What would be the consequences of each option?

The choice can be different for different people. An aspiring filmmaker may have a legitimate reason for choosing Netflix. Personally, cleaning your own apartment can be relaxing and nourishing even if the economics of hiring a cleaner looks compelling because you are earning a high hourly rate.

This is where you will need a basic idea of who you are — what are your goals, values and aspirations.

2. Flip Defeat Into Victory

Kutuzov managed to turn Russia’s defeat into a historic victory by recasting the problem in a wider context: losing Moscow need not mean losing the war.

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Despite the symbolic meaning attached to the Kremlin, the churches, the priceless treasures that had been stored in the city for centuries, the outcome of the campaign was ultimately determined by the strength of the remaining armies.

If you can adopt this result-oriented perspective, many of your personal defeats may be flipped into victories as well. Few events in a human life are absolutely good or absolutely bad, and it usually takes many years to recognize in retrospect, what role a particular encounter did play in your story.

Therefore we have every reason to look for the good in the things that happen to us.

This is a very practical attitude, far from baseless “positive thinking.” After all, if something unfortunate has happened to you and you find good sides in this circumstance, you will then be better positioned to take advantage of those good sides.

Say your noisy neighbors are affecting your productivity. What if it is a blessing in disguise? How can you turn this defeat into a victory?

  • Perhaps you are too serious about life and could learn how to have more fun. Join your neighbors or go out for a walk instead of working;
  • Perhaps you only wanted to be productive while instead procrastinated on social media. Now that your procrastination has been interrupted, stop and acknowledge this much greater obstacle to your productivity;
  • Perhaps you are too sensitive to interference. Take this opportunity to practice ignoring the noise and doing your best anyway;
  • Perhaps you have a victim mentality and the feeling of unfairness drains you more than any actual nuisance your neighbors might have caused. Try accepting this lapse in your productivity the way you would accept bad weather.

Get used to finding opportunities in your problems. This is the quintessential big picture thinking.

3. Ask for Advice

Both Napoleon and Kutuzov had trusted advisers to discuss their affairs with. In general, getting a different perspective — or several — can only help inform your understanding and lead to better decisions. Just ensure that the people giving you advice are competent in the particular area where experience is needed.

Paying money for advice can also be a wise investment. Lawyers, tax accountants, medical doctors spend years learning how to assist people like yourself in living more successful, more fulfilling lives.

A quick legal consultation can save you a fortune down the line or even keep you out of big trouble. A medical check-up can uncover potential issues and help keep you healthy and active for years to come.

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Even big, complex dilemmas at your job or in your romantic relationship can be tackled more effectively by partnering up with a coach or a therapist or, of course, with the help of a wise friend.

4. Beware of Biased Advice

Many imperfect decisions occur in response to an imperfect piece of advice that you choose to act on. This advice often comes from a biased party.

For example, we are often encouraged to buy something that we supposedly need:

  • Protect your skin from harmful UV rays by using a special lotion.
  • Fortify your health by taking multivitamins.
  • Connect with your friends by sending them elaborate gifts.
  • Brighten your weekend by consuming a delicious pastry.
  • Become more productive by getting a faster computer.

However, most purchases are unnecessary.

Some, such as the sunscreen, do have legitimate benefits when used properly.[3] Others, such as multivitamins, only make a difference for a small group of people.[4]

Advertisers of those benefits inevitably want to narrow your focus in order to overstate the importance of their product. They frequently present it as the only solution to your problem, whether real or imaginary.

After all,

  • Skin can also be protected from the sun by wearing appropriate clothing.
  • Health can be better fortified by consuming a balanced diet and getting regular exercise.
  • Spending time or talking on the phone with your friends is the foremost way of connecting with them, and it is virtually free.
  • Your weekend can be brightened by doing something that you love.
  • You can become more productive by focusing on the tasks that have the most important consequences. A faster computer can, in fact, decrease productivity by making it easier to multitask and by enabling your favorite distractions.

There are other sources of imperfect advice. Politicians also frequently want us to focus on a particular “big picture,” to the exclusion of the alternatives.

Even loving parents can be guilty of the same. They can advise their children to pick a career path that is safe and respectable, based on their “big picture” that in life one has to make a living. A child may disagree, however, based on another “big picture” that one’s life has to have meaning and fulfillment.

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Bottom Line

It is human nature to make rushed, emotional decisions based on incomplete information, then regret those decisions later on.

You can protect yourself from poor judgment by striving to attain the big picture when careful consideration is called for.

Focus on the consequences of your decision before considering how you feel about it.

Play with the cards you’ve been dealt, but look for opportunities in each situation and you will find them.

Ask knowledgeable mentors for advice, but beware of biased people who have an opinion, but do not necessarily have your best interest in mind.

Yet remember, true big picture thinking comes from hard-won experience. Legendary military commanders Napoleon Bonaparte and Mikhail Kutuzov were both injured on the battlefield.

Clear thinking comes from putting your big picture to the test of reality.

More Tips on Thinking Clearly

Featured photo credit: Haneen Krimly via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Wikipedia: French invasion of Russia
[2] Brian Tracy: No Excuses!: The Power of Self-Discipline
[3] American Academy of Dermatology: Say Yes to Sun Protection
[4] Harvard Medical School: Do multivitamins make you healthier?

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