Developing Thinking Skills: May 2019

Mr C Dodd – Staff Editor

Be Philosophical

How should we treat animals?

Is it possible that some animals (dolphins, chimps, birds, dogs etc) have sophisticated languages that we aren’t able to interpret YET? (But we might be able to in the future.) Imagine ordering a burger if you could understand what a cow was saying or thinking? Animals might not “think” in the way we do because they experience the world differently, but does this mean they are not equal to us? Is it our responsibility to look after all species as well as our own?

Bernadette Russell in The Guardian


Solve It!

Jungle Junction

You are walking through a jungle and come to an unsigned dividing fork in the path. You know that one fork leads to safety, the other leads to a crocodile-infested swamp. But, you do not know which fork to take to get to safety. You know that there are two native tribes in the area who both know the jungle very well. One tribe always tells the truth, and the other tribe always tells lies. A solitary person is standing at the divide in the path, and is from one of the two tribes. Their patience with wanderers like you is wearing thin and they allow you to ask them only one question to find out which fork to take to get to safety.

What must your one question be, remembering that you do not know if the tribe person will tell the truth or lie to you?


Puzzle Time

Einstein’s Riddle

There are five houses in five different colors in a row. In each house lives a person with a different nationality. The five owners drink a certain type of beverage, smoke a certain brand of cigar and keep a certain pet. No owners have the same pet, smoke the same brand of cigar, or drink the same beverage. Other facts:

1. The Brit lives in the red house. 
2. The Swede keeps dogs as pets. 
3. The Dane drinks tea. 
4. The green house is on the immediate left of the white house. 
5. The green house’s owner drinks coffee. 
6. The owner who smokes Pall Mall rears birds. 
7. The owner of the yellow house smokes Dunhill. 
8. The owner living in the center house drinks milk. 
9. The Norwegian lives in the first house. 
10. The owner who smokes Blends lives next to the one who keeps cats. 
11. The owner who keeps the horse lives next to the one who smokes Dunhill. 
12. The owner who smokes Bluemasters drinks beer. 
13. The German smokes Prince. 
14. The Norwegian lives next to the blue house. 
15. The owner who smokes Blends lives next to the one who drinks water. 

The question is: who owns the fish?

Solution: Watch a short TedEd video on YouTube, outlining the solution: Can you solve Einstein’s riddle?

If you enjoy solving puzzles like this, Alex Bellos sets a challenging Monday Puzzle in The Guardian every two weeks.


Oxbridge Interview Questions

What are the three biggest threats to humanity?

Human Sciences

Architecturally, how would you adapt this building that you are in?


Can manipulative qualities and bitter emotions be beautiful in literature?



Thinking Skills

A number of leading courses and institutions require students to complete pre-admission tests as part of the application process. These tests focus on the skills and aptitudes required for higher-level study.

The following sample questions come from Thinking Skills Assessment Oxford, Section 1, 2008.

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