Step 7. Thematic Journal

“Continuity is key to depth of thought

Write to Think
Record to Remember
Continuity and Depth

Reading or listening without writing is like eating without digesting.
If you want to remember the way it actually happened, record it.

Memory plays tricks.

Human capacity for self-deception infinite.
Continuity of thought is key to depth of thought.

If Darwin or Newton had not kept journals where would we be?

After the filling out of the initial Thinking Citizen Matrix, the task is to do research that allows you to do an even better job next time. As you read, you should record what you learn immediately and in a way that you can easily retrieve and decipher your notes.  Ideally, the Thinking Citizen Journal should be organized thematically with some form of highlighting different categories of information: facts (quantitative and not), claims (warrants), and principles.

When a decision is made whether to vote for candidate x instead of y or to affiliate with one party or another, record the driver of the decision: was it emotion or reason? If emotion, which emotion and where does it come from? If reason, what is your best statement of the explicit or implicit algorithm?

GENERAL OBSERVATIONS: If Newton and Darwin had not kept journals, where would we be?

Logs (journals) have been used for millennia by men and women, young and old, in all fields. Benedictine monks and Puritan settlers tracked their spiritual pilgrimage toward grace. Darwin jotted down observations and drew connections between types of finches. Mathematicians and physicists charted their path toward discovery of natural laws. Captains logged their progress. Accountants kept watch on expenses and revenues. If used correctly, the same tool can turn a college or high school social studies curriculum from a random walk from course to course into a disciplined journey toward greater self-awareness and deeper understanding of the many complex issues that challenge humanity over the next century.