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Individual differences |
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The School of Thinking (SOT) was founded by Michael Hewitt-Gleeson and Edward de Bono in New York, United States, in 1979 to teach 'thinking' as a skill so as to enrich the lives of people by helping them to become smarter and more effective thinkers. The school in the United States closed in 1989, apparently after FBI investigations SOT as a result of investors claiming that they had not been issued with any shares after investing their money.
Presently, SOT is a free, virtual school, based in Melbourne, Australia, that accomplishes its goals through a daily series of 10 free emailed lessons designed to help each trainee to become a skilled thinker through daily practice in speed thinking, creative thinking, positive thinking, lateral thinking, and new brain software which goes way beyond 'critical thinking'.
SOT's initial mission was to get 'thinking' into schools as a school subject. Under Hewitt-Gleeson's direction, the School of Thinking trained many thousands of people around the United States, and also installed thinking skills into school districts, corporations, and government organizations. Within five years, 'teaching thinking' in US schools had become, according to the New York Times, the biggest new trend in education. On January 9, 1983, the New York Times, in its Education Winter Survey, wrote:
- A major new effort to teach thinking skills is planned by the University/Urban Schools National Task Force, which will soon initiate a program in the public schools of New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Detroit, Minneapolis and Memphis... The School of Thinking in New York is the base in this country for teaching de Bono's theory, disseminated from its headquarters in London, which includes breaking out of traditional thinking patterns. This means trying to devise new ways of looking at problems... it affirms the belief that without specific efforts there is no assurance students will learn to think clearly." 
In 1988, Hewitt-Gleeson started the SOT in Australia when he conducted Australia's first SOT thinking lesson in Canberra. To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the School of Thinking, the co-founders, Edward de Bono and Michael Hewitt-Gleeson, designed a new global initiative - The Family Learn-To-Think Project - which was launched in January 2004. This is a special online coaching program to assist families who wish to become much better 'family thinkers'.  It aimed to be the largest program in the world ever to teach thinking skills to families. The Family Learn-To-Think Project is free to all families worldwide who have an email address.
In New York in 1985, due to a dispute over publishing rights and attributions, Hewitt-Gleeson closed down the School of Thinking, which he started with de Bono. In 1988, Hewitt-Gleeson re-started the School of Thinking in Melbourne with a new syllabus designed by him, apparently after FBI investigations into Edward de Bono's version of the School of Thinking's claim to have certain publishing rights to the CoRT Thinking Syllabus.
It transpired that Edward de Bono, as principal shareholder of the School of Thinking, had offered conflicting publishing rights both to the School of Thinking on the one hand and to Pergamon Press (owned by British billionaire-publisher, Robert Maxwell) on the other hand, and so a legal dispute arose.
Hewitt-Gleeson and other smaller shareholders (Dr Eric Bienstock and Alexandra Jane Noble) claimed moral rights but were unable to match Robert Maxwell's legal funds especially in the event that Edward de Bono chose to take his friend Maxwell's side. These smaller shareholders called for an investigation by the FBI. The school in New York was closed down in 1985 and Edward de Bono was interviewed by Scotland Yard.
There was also a dispute over the School of Thinking's Six Thinking Caps.
Dr Edward de Bono and Dr Michael Hewitt-Gleeson co-authored an early version of the PMI lesson in the Learn-To-Think Coursebook and Instructors Manual (1982 Capra New). This book became the subject of a cover story on all international editions of the Readers Digest in April 1983. Today's equivalent would be like being on OPRAH! As a result, the PMI lesson reached over 68 million readers worldwide. This was the widest ever broadcast of the PMI thinking skill. Developed by the Cognitive Research Trust (CoRT), the PMI became one of the most widely taught of all the School of Thinking lessons—the 59 Minute Course in Thinking.
The icon that featured in this Readers Digest story is the original School of Thinking Cap. In September 1983, Michael Hewitt-Gleeson, Eric Bienstock and Edward de Bono were brainstorming ways to exploit the enormous publicity created for SOT from the Readers Digest cover story. They jointly developed the idea of 'coloured thinking caps' taken from the icon in the magazine. They considered getting baseball caps with the SOT logo or headbands made in different colours. Edward de Bono suggested that the caps be sold in sets of six and in summary de Bono wrote: "Each is of a different colour and each bears the logo of the School of Thinking. Instead of caps elasticised head bands could be used".
Six Thinking Hats was subsequently published in 1985. In the latest edition Edward de Bono writes: "The Six Thinking Hats method may well be the most important change in human thinking for the past 2300 years". Yet, there is no attribution for the origin of the idea in any editions of the book. The matter has been raised by Hewitt-Gleeson with de Bono on a number of occasions but no attribution has yet been given.
Then appeared an online statement in de Bono's official website dated July 22, 2002, where de Bono suddenly denied any involvement "in the ownership or running of [SOT]", although he agreed that "there may be material derived from, borrowed, or taken from [his] work".  In that statement, de Bono added: "Michael no longer has any connection whatever with me. He is not authorised to use my intellectual property in any way. Any courses he delivers are not endorsed by me in any way. I shall also take legal action for any infringement of copyright".
Although Edward de Bono and Michael Hewitt-Gleeson have since resumed their friendship, Hewitt-Gleeson's legal advisors have advised that this curious statement, still on the internet, is defamatory. Edward de Bono has given repeated assuranced to Hewitt-Gleeson that the statement will be removed but has failed to do so claiming that 'my brother Peter is the culprit and will not remove it'. The matter may yet become the basis for a legal dispute in Melbourne.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 Official website of the School of Thinking
- ↑ Edward de Bono's official website: Infringement