The Thinking Environment - What it's all about

The Thinking Environment is about providing a framework within which we can each express what we are thinking, freely and without interruption. Developed by Nancy Kline through decades of working with coaching clients, it lends itself ideally to the classroom.


If you are familiar with concepts of mindfulness, active listening and a coach approach to teaching, a Thinking Environment will make sense to you.


"The most valuable thing we can offer each other is the framework in which to think for ourselves. "

The Ten Components of a Thinking Environment

The list with details of each component is on the Time to Think website. For convenience, I have copied the list here. Each link will take you directly to the original website. Do take time to explore what's there, I especially enjoy reading the case studies and articles.

Thinking Enhancers

Consider the following when aiming to enable your learner to do the best thinking they can. We think best when:

  • we know we are respected
  • we trust in our own intelligence
  • our minds are free from fear
  • our ideas will affect a specific outcome
  • we are seeking the best idea, not trying to win
  • people show interest in us
  • we have accurate and complete information
  • we are not rushed
  • we are at ease
  • our questions are welcomed
  • we are asked incisive questions
  • we think well of ourselves
  • everyone in the group is given a chance to think and speak
  • we are encouraged to think beyond the usual
  • the physical environment says back to us, "You matter".

This is the video I show a part of during the session. While Nancy is coming from a coaching perspective, I believe we can legitimately substitute "coaching" for "teaching" and apply much of what she says to our classroom situations.  What do you think?