ADAPT Program -- Accent on Developing Abstract Processes of Thought


Date of this Version



Published in SKEPTICAL INQUIRER 21:3 (May/June 1997), pp. 34-39. Copyright (c) 1997 Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal.


The hypothetical-deductive pattern of reasoning, an advanced reasoning model common to science, can be effectively transferred to the study of English and improve both English usage and reasoning skills.

Though educators in the United States say that they already are teaching thinking and that the physical sciences and mathematics offer opportunities for learning higher-order reasoning skills, most observers agree that the goal of teaching students how to think has not been fulfilled. The reasons are varied. Perhaps the most serious deficiency is that teachers have never had a clear notion of just what advanced reasoning is--and just what to do to stimulate its development in students.

My own search for effective ways to promote critical thinking during thirty years as a high school English teacher grew out of dissatisfaction with what was offered by various authors representing the humanities and behavioral and social sciences. Guided by my study of the paranormal and my association with college professors experimenting with various theories of intellectual devdopment, including those of Swiss psychologist Jean Piaget (known for his research of thought processes in children), I turned to the physical sciences for answers.

Emphasizing the hypothetical-deductive pattern of reasoning in teaching critical thinking appeared feasible. So by means of a Piagetian-based, systematic instructional theory developed by Anton E. Lawson of Arizona State University, I used this reasoning model in my twelfth-grade English course at Grand Island Senior High in Grand Island, Nebraska, from 1982 to 1991. This reasoning model, common to science, can be effectivdy transferred to the field of English (and likely to other curriculum areas, as well as to everyday life); an academic discipline such as English can be used to help students develop higher-order thinking skills of a hypothetical-deductive nature.