This is intended to be simple. The rest of the book is a bit more technical, but I hope still accessible, the teacher says.

  1. Most human beings don’t enjoy chaos or uncertainty. We like things to be ordered and predictable and to make sense to us. So, we come up with ways of thinking about how things around us work, which explain and justify the order and predictability we like.
  2. This is natural and normal and sensible as we need to make sense of the world around us in order to survive and flourish. What is more, it helps us to survive and flourish if we band together with other human beings. For this to work well we must agree on a lot, especially what order should be like.
  3. We check out how we make sense of the world with other people by using words that we all already know and by putting those words together in sentences using grammar we all agree on (mostly). This means that we almost always use ways of thinking about things that already exist.
  4. Mostly we don’t question our ways of thinking about the world. This is true even when it becomes obvious that although we are using the same words as other people we probably mean different things when we say them. This is because it is difficult and uncomfortable for us to disagree, and if we disagree too much we will lose the protection pretending to agree provides.
  5. We also use words to tell stories to ourselves and others about our personal relationship with the order and predictability we live in. These stories are fitted around the way we think the world works, and what we think about the way the world works is fitted around our stories.
  6. We agree on our collective stories in the same way we agree on how the world works and what order should be like. (We sometimes call this history, science and politics.)
  7. All this thinking helps us to understand the world and our place in it, but mostly we forget about it and carry on with life. We only change our thinking if something big and different comes along that cannot be ignored.
  8. When this happens we have different reactions depending on our personalities, the amount of power we stand to lose or gain, and just how uncomfortable the ‘new thing’ makes us and the people around us feel.
  9. How we react usually boils down to one of three ways: (1) We find the new thing too threatening to how we make sense of the world and how we understand ourselves and so we reject it completely, make it change, pretend it doesn’t exist, or if that doesn’t work, try to stop it existing; (2) We see that in many ways the new thing can fit into how we already see things if we adjust them, just a little bit; (3) We decide that in the light of our new knowledge or experience we really do need to rethink how we make sense of the world and the stories we tell about ourselves.
  10. Only brave people ever try number three unless they absolutely have to. Only very brave people try number three when the people around them are saying ‘No!’
  11. This is because it is scary to change how we think about ourselves and our world, and especially scary to admit that there are some things we just don’t have the answers for any more.
  12. However, when we do change our thinking, we soon get used to it.