Steve Fenton

Deep thinking and metacognition

I have read a good few books recently about the mind. From some rather straight-laced but fascinating books from the Psychology section to some rather more casual but equally interesting books such as Moonwalking With Einstein by Joshua Foer. I have also been reading about secular mindfulness, partly sceptically but with an open mind where actual research has been conducted.

My conclusion to all of this is that I need to think more. What I mean is; I need to have time set aside specifically for the task of thinking about things.

This is a major change from my previous greedy consumption of knowledge, whereby I simply read a great deal. Quite a lot of what I read would stick (I suppose especially where it fit my existing schemas) – but I was probably getting about 30% of what I now get by deep thinking.

Deep thinking is a conscious focus on the subject. You work through the information and challenge it with questions that you must find your answers to. If this sounds a bit odd, I happily admit that when I put down a book at my local coffee shop and engage in a deep thinking session I probably look a little odd (perhaps not though – I haven’t been asked to leave yet).

The result of this process is that the information in the book is absorbed more richly. Instead of simply being information gathered from some text, it works its way into my schemas and is more readily available and absolutely better understood.

I am presumably quite amateur at the thinking game – I am realising the potential of thinking and of meta-cognition – but already I am getting much more from books, television, conferences and just about any other kind of information exchange.

Written by Steve Fenton on