Golding, the author of Lord of the Flies, was very interested in the existential idea that each person must create his own moral universe. His semi-autobiographical essay gives us some idea how he came up with his own moral, logical, coherent system for living. What may surprise us as readers of the novel is the humor he includes in his descriptions of the teachers he had in his impressionable years. Another particularly creative and original technique he uses is the symbolism and arrangement of the statues of The Thinker, Venus, and the leopard. His overall purpose is to explain his three kinds of thinking: 3rd Grade, 2nd Grade, and 1st Grade thinking, with 1st Grade being the highest kind of thinking, the one for which we should all strive. However his overall structure is not that of analysis, as was Copland's "How We Listen." He uses a chronological order suggesting by this that we develop our levels of thinking in a particular order. .
He says we all begin at 3rd Grade thinking, mimicking what our parents, our institutions, or our peers advocate. He calls this kind of thinking just acting on feelings, prejudices, and following like sheep whoever leads. Perhaps it is significant that this kind of thinking seems to be fostered by the education institution. But it is also reinforced by religion, our own form of government, our legal, financial, and social systems. He then suggests that 2nd Grade thinking comes about when we begin to challenge accepted thought by finding the flaws in the logic, but looking for contradictions or exceptions to those beliefs. At this point he uses humor again to suggest that 2nd Grade thinkers are not very popular. Finally he discusses 1st Grade thinking which is superior to the other two grades because it contains ideas that have been tested on our own experiences or with other data and which has been reached after trying to resolve all the contradictions found at the 2nd Grade level.