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FW: [ArtsEducators] Thinking skills...Let me use an analogy


From: Lawrence A. Parker (occti_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Sat Feb 08 2003 - 09:59:45 PST

> Larry mentioned that kids do not have thinking skills

I was not accurate in saying that kids do not have thinking skills; I
noted that this was generalized and generally speaking. Kids *do* have
thinking skills. But, good are they?

Of course, there are genetic and environmental influences, and I think
most of us are aware of those.

In the same way, most any kid can get behind the steering wheel of an
automobile and drive it. Does s/he have driving skills? How do we
measure? Whether or not they can steer the car straight down the road?
Whether or not they can keep from hitting something? Is it enough to be
able to maneuver the car down the driveway? What about on crowded city
streets, or on high speed freeways?

We assume for most kids that the innate and basic skills are there. And
we give them booklets on laws, rules, suggestions, do's and don'ts
(sp?); we give them information. We test them to make sure that they
understand the information. As we all know, the tests are fairly
minimal in complexity and depth.

Then we have them practice, practice, practice, learning how to maneuver
and control the car, judging difference grades, curves, inertias and
momentums, road surfaces, weather conditions, etc. And we finally test
them on a "live" road. Also a fairly minimal test that often lasts
about 1/2 hour.

Let's face it. Most of the learning of how to actually drive takes
place after one has gotten a license and is on the road alone, actually
engaged in and engaged by real world conditions.

Learning to think, and think well, is much the same way.

We provide information - all of the basic academic information we can
present to children over the course of 12 years. We test them, often
poorly (MC, T/F), with tests that primarily test to see if they remember
*what* the information was, not whether or not they understand it or can
apply it. In order of increasing efficacy are short essay, long essay,
and oral tests.

But rarely do we find cross-disciplinary tests/questions. For instance,
how does Art relate to commercial advertising, and where does economics
and public relations come in, not to mention truth and ethics?

If we don't provide the students with proper instruction in and
opportunities for practice of good thinking skills - how to assess,
process, correlate, and use information - then the students are left on
their own to make what they can of their native thinking skills.

But I think we can all agree that nearly every human endeavor which is
skill based can be improved with instruction, practice, reflection,
assessment, and modification.

To date, how well this is addressed is usually left up to the individual
teacher. And in this, the most important factor is that the teacher is
able to model the self-same thinking skills which are being taught for
and encouraged in the student.

This is the same way in which many young artists learn to paint, is it
not - by copying the works of masters to attempt to re-create the same
application of skills and knowledge of materials, perspectives, etc.?

More later, I'm sure, but I have to go clean my wife's car off of

Chop wood; carry water.
Life goes on.


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