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Lesson Plans

Thinking and Education; was "imagine" or "fantasize"

From: Lawrence A. Parker (occti)
Date: Thu Jul 27 2000 - 09:32:31 PDT

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    > How does this relate to the call by "educators" for students to do more
    > reflection and more higher order thinking? First of all, IMHO, regular
    > educators do not really know what it means for students to
    > reflect or engage in higher order thinking. ...

    Oh, Reatha, you have spoken volumes; what I have been trying to tell
    educators for years.

    And such a comment is not a slam on educators. Why should it be? They went
    through the same public schools in which they teach. The professors of
    education also went through the same schools, and teach "educating" as they
    have known it.

    So, teachers, and the rest of the population, GENERALLY, have not been
    taught how to think effectively, nor have teachers been taught how to teach
    others how to think effectively. (BTW, 'effective' is the one-word
    definition I use with Critical Thinking. Thinking has purposes, from
    solving simple day-to-day problems to answering the big problems of Life,
    the Universe, and Everything. Thinking which is successful in answering
    these problems is effective; shallow (examines too little) thinking is
    ineffective. Critical Thinking, which is assessed by its own standards,
    thus the 'criteria' which is the basis for 'critical', is the only
    structured and formal means of ensuring effective thinking.

    The path for educators is to understand that all of the lectures, text
    books, films, etc. ARE ONLY INFORMATION to the students; NOT KNOWLEDGE. The
    students must be given the opportunities and challenges to form their own
    knowledge based on the information presented to them and on the knowledge
    they already possess, which in turn is based upon the world in which they
    live (an important point, that one!). Students need to be pressed for
    why's? Both so that they can examine their reasoning, and also so that they
    can understand their reasoning. Students should also be asked to assess
    their own thinking, and required to answer how THEY arrived at their
    assessment standards.

    In Ohio, the new OPT (Ohio Proficiency Test) standards include Critical
    Thinking and Problem Solving. But is anyone teaching the students how to do
    this? Effectively? No. Has anyone taught the teachers how to do this?
    No. Workbooks are bought and handed out, and the class does exercises. But
    the teachers do not have the training and discipline to think critically
    themselves, nor to model the process to the students, nor the abilities to
    facilitate collaborative inquiry and dialogues between the students

    A simple example is reading. There is a world of difference between being
    able to identify letters, to construct words and sentences (simple grammar)
    and attach particular sounds to them, and *comprehending* what the words and
    sentences are saying. Anyone who teaches inner city sees this happen all
    the time. Students read text, but are unable to paraphrase and discuss the
    ideas written about; students are unable to communicate their own thoughts
    and feelings, usually resorting to more emotive street-speak. When they
    can't communicate or be heard at all, they resort to violence. Which of
    course leads into a whole other area of problem solving - conflict
    management. But I'll save that for another post! What is necessary for
    tutors is not only to help students with the grammatical skills, but to also
    discuss the materials with the students and getting them to think about and
    process the information presented to them. How does it relate to them? To
    their lives? To their world?



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