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The Good Thinker's Toolkit

Developed by Dr. Thomas Jackson from the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

Seven letters, W-R-A-I-T-E-C, make up the Tool Kit.  There are also several "magic words" used in combination with these letters. Each letter (or word) stands for a cognitive "power tool" to be used with discretion and care.  Anyone who thinks is aware of and uses the tools sometimes.  Identifying and coming to a deeper understanding of each tool can help turn passive, reactive thinking into active, probing, responsive GOOD thinking.  The tools are sometimes used alone, sometimes used together, helping each other out.  The quickest way to learn the KIT is to USE it!  Whenever you are watching or listening to something, reading, or reflecting, try using one or more or the tools.  You'll be amazed at how powerful a thinker you'll become!


What do you mean?

  • What do you/they mean by ____?
  • What is missing here?
  • What have I forgotten to ask?
  • What is going on here? What is the problem?
  • What does this have to do with me?



  • What reasons are there that support what he/she said?
  • Why do you say that?
  • Can you give a reason? Is it a good reason?
  • What makes a reason a good reason?



  • What are we assuming (taking for granted as true)?
  • What other assumptions might we make?
  • How are our assumptions influencing what we are seeing / judging / thinking / saying?


Inferences; If...Then; Implications

  • What inferences have we made from what was said?
  • If what was said is true, then what?
  • What are the implications of what is proposed?



  • Is what is being said true?
  • How do we know?
  • How could we find out?


Examples; Evidence

  • Can you think of an example to illustrate what you mean?
  • What evidence can we find to support the claim being made?



  • Can you think of a counter-example to the claim being made?
  • For example, suppose someone claims, "You have to be able  to read to be successful."  Is this true?  Can we think of a counter-example, i.e., someone who cannot read yet is successful?

Magic Words


Please one person at a time

  • When too many people are talking at the same time.


Let's move on

  • When you feel like you want to move on to a new topic for discussion.


Speak louder please

  • When you can't hear what a person said / is saying.
  • When you feel not everyone can hear what a person said / is saying.


One more time

  • When you want someone to repeat what they just said.
  • When you want to emphasize a good / not-so-good point someone just made.
  • When you can't hear exactly what someone said / is saying.


I don't understand

  • When you don't really understand what someone said.
  • When you want someone to clarify what they meant.


Going off subject

  • When the discussion strays off-topic or someone begins to talk about something not related to the current topic
  • When you want to keep talking about the current subject (especially if it's an interesting question and/or is generating a lot of ideas and response)
  • Also to help with clearing away distractions that might prevent us from all listening to each other respectfully


Out of time

  • When the class time is almost up!

Contact Information

Creighton University
Department of Philosophy
Dowling Hall (Humanities Building) 1st Floor
2500 California Plaza
Omaha, NE 68178 USA

Chloe Meyer
Administrative Assistant
Phone: 402.280.2834
Fax: 402.280.3359
Office: DHHC 105