Eminence (Thinking Schools Ethiopia) to Host Thinking Schools International Co-Founder & Thinking Foundation Head

By:Edda Zekarias (Communications Officer at Eminence)


Dr. David Hyerle will be visiting Eminence (Thinking Schools Ethiopia) on March 3-8, 2012. During this visit, he will meet and discuss with select government officials and partners both from the government and private sector.

Brief Intro

David Hyerle, EdD, is an author, researcher, seminar leader, and keynote speaker focused on integrating content learning, thinking process instruction, and collaborative leadership across whole schools. He is founding director of the Thinking Foundation www.thinkingfoundation.org, a nonprofit organization supporting research in cognitive and critical thinking development for the purpose of creating thinking schools nationally and internationally.

Growing Thinking Schools from the Inside Out 

The creation of his Thinking Maps model emerged from his experiences as a middle school teacher in inner city Oakland, California, USA. His development of Thinking Maps was also informed by his work with the Bay Area Writing Project and the Cognitive Coaching model.

Among his numerous professional books and articles based on visual tools research, David wrote the foundational training materials for Thinking Maps and guided the professional development process with Thinking Maps, Inc. The Thinking Maps model is used across the United States and the United Kingdom, Singapore, New Zealand, Ethiopia, South Africa and many other countries. David co-wrote the training guide Thinking Maps: A Language for Leadership and edited Student Successes With Thinking Maps, a professional book presenting background research and documenting the professional development outcomes from the implementation of Thinking Maps.

David is co-director with Richard Cummins of Thinking Schools International that currently has projects in United Kingdom (over 400 schools), Norway, South Africa, Malaysia, Ethiopia and other countries. www.thinkingschoolsinternational.com.

David earned a doctorate and bachelor’s at the University of California–Berkeley and has served as a visiting scholar at the Harvard School of Education.

Visual Tools 

Current Books by David Hyerle:
Visual Tools for Transforming Information Into Knowledge
Corwin Press, Second Edition, © 2009, 192 pages
By David Hyerle
Prologue by Arthur L. Costa
Foreword by Robert J. Marzano

Student Successes With Thinking Maps®
School-Based Research, Results, and Models for Achievement Using Visual Tools
Corwin Press, Second Edition, © 2011, 248 pages
By David Hyerle and Larry Alper
Foreword by Patricia Wolfe

Developing Connected Leadership
Solution Tree Press
By David Hyerle, Larry Alper, Kim Williams
read more about the book 


The Process of Developing Cognition

Starting the Vision
Growing Thinking Schools
From the Inside Out — a Transformative Design
Learner Centered Professional Development

This is the first of several upcoming postings that will provide an overview of the Thinking Schools Ethiopia process – beginning with the initial Growing Thinking Schools two day workshops. The upcoming blogs will look into each of the Six Starting Points of Thinking (visual mapping, reflective questions, environmental structure, collaborative networking, thinking skills and dispositions) as well as assessment and IT integration. Each of the six starting points of thinking will be highlighted separately and how they are a transformative design collectively in upcoming blogs. Any reflections and/or questions are appreciated in the ‘responses’ section.

The initial two day Growing Thinking Schools sessions is for school leadership teams about to embark on whole school transformative design change using Thinking Schools Ethiopia thinking methodologies. The leadership team is comprised of the principal and other key faculty and staff who are school leaders in teams of 4-6 people per school. It is not about one size fits all. It is taking 21st century thinking methodologies that we know work (research as learned through practice) and then the school leadership team determining where their school (and school community) is currently, and how best to vision, create, achieve and sustain their goals. Mastery and sustainability are key visions of Thinking Schools Ethiopia. The initial two day Growing Thinking Schools sessions include learning and using Thinking Schools Ethiopia’s six starting points of learning to:
—learn (and reflect) about ourselves
—learn (and reflect) about our schools (and/or NGO organizations) as a collaborative team
—learn together as teams building a collaborative network between different schools and people
—learn thinking methodologies in a participatory centered (mirroring student centered) manner
—learn collaboratively within our leadership team AND between other school’s leadership teams
—develop understanding, thinking out ideas, learning each other’s perspectives (frame of reference), and developing an initial Growing Thinking Schools plan with visual tools…
—create a plan that includes mastery for the leadership team, the teachers, the school support staff, the students, and the greater community.

Click on the images above to see the full photos and/or visual mapping.
The images are left to right:

  • building community;
  • visual mapping with Working Field Guide;
  • Growing Thinking Schools training;
  • visual overview of Growing Thinking Schools implementation in Ethiopia 

The Thinking Schools Ethiopia – a collaborator with the Thinking Schools International network – six starting points of thinking methodologies  include:

1. Reflective Questioning high quality questioning and listening skills
2. Thinking Skills explicit use of cognitive processes
3. Visual Mapping the use of visual tools to map out ideas
4. Collaborative Networking between us in pairs, groups, schools, and global networks that includes collaborative learning; collegial coaching; regional and global collaborationsExamples include collaborative learning, collegial coaching, professional learning communities, parent involvement.
5. Developing Dispositions characteristics, dispositions, and habits of mind are engaged
6. Structuring Environment considering how the physical space is organize and resources used


Each of the six starting points of thinking will be highlighted separately and how they are a transformative design collectively in upcoming blogs.

The video clip below shares participants reflections
from a recent Growing Thinking Schools Ethiopia training.

Innovation and Ideas are Bidirectional
Locally & Globally

posted by Robert Price & Bereket Aweke
click on responses above to leave a comment 

Thinking Schools Ethiopia is part of the Thinking Schools International network that includes thinking schools in the United Kingdom (over 400 schools), South Africa, Norway, Northern Ireland, Malaysia and other countries. It is a vision to share bidirectionally, innovations and ideas between and among all schools in a collaborative manner to benefit students worldwide. This begins with respecting that innovation and ideas originate globally, then using 21st century methods (of thinking) to collaborate. The Thinking Schools Ethiopia project really began to take form when we started using Skype to communicate. This provided a tool for sharing ideas via text, voice and in view.

A vivid example of the potential this had for our collaborative effort occurred during my fifth visit to Ethiopia when students at a K-8 school in Ethiopia were using a laptop in their garden to skype with a school in North Carolina, USA. The students in Ethiopia were in the student’s garden – one of five at the Children’s Home Academy that provides food for the student lunches. The North Carolina students were tethered to the classroom computer talking about a garden they were envisioning. It was apparent that the food movement in the USA has much to share with and also learn from locations in parts of the world that actually need to have school gardens.

While the Thinking Schools approach is a systems approach that focuses on sustainability, funding for Ethiopia, a country with one of the lowest per capita incomes in the world (212 out of 228 countries) and currently the eighth highest population growth rate in the world, can dampen the potential. We believe there are some excellent mechanisms that can be implemented to provide support for innovation at a low per school cost and develop sustainability from within. Preparing a highly skilled team of master facilitators within Ethiopia along with a body of action research from Ethiopian educators should support the potential into a realization.

The recent memo of understanding (MoU) between Thinking Schools Ethiopia (part of Eminence Social Entrepreneurs – an Ethiopian founded and owned organization in Addis Ababa) provides a starting point of bidirectional change – an idea and ideal of global collaboration. And further supported with UNESCO’s recognition of Thinking Schools Ethiopia being a model of ‘modern pedagogy’.

Ethiopia has been an independent nation since ancient times, and is one of the oldest countries in the world. The workshops to date with over 2000 Ethiopian educators have provided a context, and a foundation to the potential. Most importantly the potential of the children – a generation of thinkers to come…

The video clip below shares a Thinking Schools Ethiopia demonstration lesson facilitated by Robert Price. During the use of collaborative learning,  visual mapping (Thinking Maps), reflective questions and structuring environment, the students discussed deforestation and other current events. Like the garden example above, the students’ hands-on personal experiences genuinely lend a collaborative potential of sharing ideas and innovations in a bidirectional manner…

Thinking Schools Ethiopia – Transformative Design
Growing Thinking Schools from the Inside Out

posted by Robert Price & Bereket Aweke

What is Thinking Schools Ethiopia?
Transformative Design – Growing Thinking Schools from the Inside Out

As noted in the previous blog posting Thinking Schools Ethiopia recently signed a Memo of Understanding to collaborate with the Addis Ababa Bureau of Education and the government (public) schools in Ethiopia’s capital city. Concurrently UNESCO International Institute for Capacity Building in Africa has recently stated its’ support in a document about Thinking Schools Ethiopia as a modern pedagogy. More will be shared on the support and collaboration with UNESCO-IICBA in an upcoming blog.

What are Thinking Schools?
Thinking Schools Ethiopia (TSE) is a school transformational model (child, educator, community) embodying 21st century thinking skills to improve the capacity of:

  • students in pre-k, elementary, secondary and university as life long learners;
  • educators to work collaboratively as a whole school community;
  • Ethiopian master facilitators as model practitioners and trainers.

The TSE approach includes the coordinated use of visual mapping, collaborative networking, reflective questioning, thinking skills, structuring environment, and developing dispositions to create, develop and sustain a research-based school transformational model.

The Thinking Schools Ethiopia (TSE) approach focuses on improving the quality of teacher effectiveness, applying research-based methodologies that are aligned with how the brain thinks and learns, and a systems thinking approach with whole school implementation. Assessment of students, educators and the implementation of TSE are accomplished using qualitative and quantitative methods including use of thinking skills tools.

How is it different from existing approaches?
The Thinking Schools Ethiopia (TSE) approach is a whole school systems approach that builds capacity from within developing a foundation that is reflective, sustainable, replicable and collaborative. TSE is part of a greater global collaboration that supports bidirectional development. Bidirectional development is a belief system and model where all participants recognize their own capacity for aiding the others globally: ideas and innovation originate within and across all places globally.

The focus of Thinking Schools Ethiopia will be on the integration of 21st century thinking skills supported by research combined with using practical technological approaches.

The Methodologies:
1. Reflective Questioning high quality questioning and listening skills
2. Thinking Skills explicit use of cognitive processes
3. Visual Mapping the use of visual tools to map out ideas
4. Collaborative Networking between us in pairs, groups, schools, and global networks that includes collaborative learning; collegial coaching; regional and global collaborations. Examples include collaborative learning, collegial coaching, professional learning communities, parent involvement.
5. Developing Dispositions characteristics, dispositions, and habits of mind are engaged
6. Structuring Environment considering how the physical space is organize and resources used



Thinking Schools Ethiopia collaborates with and is part of the greater network of Thinking Schools International. Projects are concurrently in Malaysia, United Kingdom, Norway, South Africa, Brazil and other countries.

The thinking methodologies above are from the Thinking Schools International guide: Growing Schools from the Inside Out. The guide which is translated into Amharic, is used as part of the initial school leadership team training for each school to better understand its needs and vision in participatory centered workshops. Each team participates in TSE learner centered workshops using thinking methodologies to develop a sustainable plan for implementing thinking methodologies at their schools.

Phase 1 of the project between August 2009 – November 2011 involved over 2000 educators in Ethiopia participating in multiple day workshops. Participation by experts from Addis Ababa Bureau of Education (AABE), UNESCO-IICBA, many educators, school leaders and the Ministry of Education have led to the collaboration of TSE, AABE, UNESCO, Thinking Schools International and Thinking Foundation bringing together complimentary organizations supporting whole school and sustainable systems change.

More on Thinking Schools can be seen on the Norway TV video clip with Richard Cummins – the CEO of Thinking Schools International part of the program. Thinking Schools Ethiopia is also finishing an informative video clip about Thinking Schools Ethiopia which will be shared here soon.
Thinking Schools – The Start of a Journey on Norway TV

Look at the video clips on the Thinking Schools Ethiopia YouTube:

Eminence Staff Meets Thinking Schools Ethiopia

posted by Bereket Aweke
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

As part of in-house action plan and information dissemination practice, the Thinking Schools International trainer Robert Price delivered training to Eminence staff in late October 2011. The training introduced the staff to basic ideals and components of the thinking Schools approach; in particular Thinking Maps. This was done to enhance staff planning and creative thinking to handle office projects, as can be gathered from the title of the training ‘Thinking Maps as a Tool for Project Development’. At the same time, this engagement enabled the staff to practice first hand with some of the components of the approach that can be broadly applicable beyond the scholastic setting. The staff greatly appreciated the training session which they said was useful and easily implementable not just in the work place, but also for personal development.

Presentation for Government Education Experts

posted by Bereket Aweke

The Addis Ababa Bureau of Education Director Dilamo Otore Ferenje whom I met previously with Robert Price requested a presentation of the Thinking Schools approach for experts from the Bureau of Education. The presentation was held on the morning of Wednesday, September 7th 2011 at Eminence Social Entrepreneurs. A panel discussion was held in one of the conference rooms in the Eminence Social Entrepreneurs PLC offices, in the 8th floor of the Dire Dawa Building on Wollo Sefer, Addis Ababa.

The objective of the panel discussion was to introduce the approach of “Thinking Schools Ethiopia” to solve the quality issues of the Ethiopian educational system.

“Thinking Schools Ethiopia” is run by Eminence Social Entrepreneurs PLC in collaboration with “Thinking Schools International”.  In Ethiopia the “Thinking Schools Ethiopia” pilot project commenced in 2009. For more information on the program please visit the “Thinking Schools Ethiopia” website: www.thinkingschoolsethiopia.com and Thinking Schools International website:  www.thinkingschoolsinternational.com

Presentation PDF
Presentation PowerPoint