What to Think or How to Think

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Which do you believe education should be doing for your child?

Teaching them WHAT to think, which is purely a temporal repository of factual short term memories, or HOW to think, which is a process of educating that when cognitively internalized becomes a tool for deeper and life-long learning?

Not certain?  Let’s start with defining both terms:

Temporal comes from the Latin word temporalis which means “of time” and is usually applied to words that mean not having much of it … time that is!   Not eternal; “temporal matters of but a fleeting moment”- F.D.Roosevelt; of or relating to or limited by time; “temporal processing”; “temporal dimensions”; “temporal and spacial boundaries”; lasting or existing only for a short time”

 http://www.thefreedictionary.com/temporal

“Cognitive comes from the Latin words gnoscere, noscere “to come to know “; to perceive directly or to have direct cognition of; to have understanding of <importance of knowing oneself>; to recognize the nature of, as in discern; to recognize as being acquainted or familiar with; to have an experience of; to be aware of the truth or facts as being convinced or certain of something; to have a practical understanding of <knows how to write>.  In short, to have the capacity to perform higher mental processes of reasoning, remembering, understanding, awareness, perception, good judgment, or solving a problem.”

http://www.thefreedictionary.com/cognition

Let’s go through the stages of What versus How to think

 What – Temporal – Short Term ThinkingHow – Cognitive – Deeper Thinking and Decision Making
I’m hungry now, it’s too early for lunch ……I’m getting hungry before lunch these days.  I will try eating more at breakfast to keep me from getting hungry earlier.
I hate today, it’s too long  ……This is my busiest day of the week, I need to work harder.  I will start doing a little extra work the day before or maybe get up earlier.
I don’t like this project, it’s boring  ……This is new and I am not sure I know what to do.  Maybe I can see it from a different perspective and find a way for it to become interesting.
I can’t do math any more  ……I can do math, I just cannot figure this problem out.  I will ask for help.
What are we doing?   ……I wasn’t paying attention.  I better ask.  Next time I will be sure to listen to the instructions
I don’t have a pencil/pen  ……Being prepared for class would be easier than wasting time looking for a pencil or pen.

Which column do you see your child working through?  The “learned helplessness” of WHAT or the ready for life of HOW?

Quite honestly children require both!  A temporal foundation for memory recall, which in turn allows them to continue their personal growth in cognitive knowledge and ability.   I have seen the educational system that short-stops right at the temporal foundation of memory as a result of…

  • A preference for testing performance and grading systems
  • Class sizes of 30-40 students
  • Less parental involvement or help
  • Misbehavior with lack of consequences
  • More “busy work” than any child should have to include in a normal learning environment
  • Bending to political pressure to continually receive government grant money

There is really nothing wrong with an education that attempts to teach the masses.  Their hearts are in the right place, but some precious children get lost in this system, fall behind, or are just not suited to being part of this kind of larger sphere of life.  They have too much to offer and cannot let it out; too much intuition and not allowed to experiment with it; too much creativity that cannot be unleashed, or just plain shy to ask for help.

Grades may give one the “security” of what children have in their temporal foundation of memory for short term use, but…

  • Where or when do they get challenged to grow their personal active cognitive knowledge and ability? 
  • What happens when children are not given the opportunity to venture further down the knowledge road of learning?
  • When does that temporal foundation of memory grow into true permanent useful knowledge?
  • How can true knowledge become the potential way to self-knowledge if children cannot see beyond their own temporal memory?
  • What use is the temporal foundation of memory recall for short term use, when the time comes for our children to exponentially use their total cognitive ability for deeper thinking and decision making in a future world we have cannot even conceive of today?

As a teacher in the public and private sector for more than 20 years, these are questions I have asked my colleagues and superiors.   Questions and things I am still so concerned about in education today.

How can we educate students to think and then prepare them to make it relevant to their lives? 

Stay tuned for more thoughts on this subject.  By all means contact me at  maryb@bix-bee.org with your ideas, thoughts, suggestions, comments etc.

 

Written by 

I Graduated in 1976 with a BS in Elementary Ed from Framingham State Teacher's College, Framingham, MA. My graduating class was the last the last class of teachers credentialed automatically for teaching in all 50 states. I taught third grade, as well as, music and public speaking for middle school. My teaching years were on and off for 30 years because our family moved quite a bit and there were not always teaching jobs available where we moved to. I have been a substitute teacher during those times for many schools and many grade levels. 1976-1977 Southborough, MA, Second grade Teacher 1999-2001 Tucson, AZ, Middle School Teacher Developed and taught the public speaking and music appreciation course structure to integrate with school academic program. (Music Director) – Organized, coordinated the music for and rehearsed 16 classrooms for two programs of singing, dancing and drama per year. (Stage Manager) – Coordinated all stage materials; painted backdrops, sewed costumes and helped children with lines and stage placement. I Graduated in 1976 with a BS in Elementary Ed from Framingham State Teacher's College, Framingham, MA. My graduating class was the last the last class of teachers credentialed automatically for teaching in all 50 states. I taught third grade, as well as, music and public speaking for middle school. My teaching years were on and off for 30 years because our family moved quite a bit and there were not always teaching jobs available where we moved to. I have been a substitute teacher during those times for many schools and many grade levels. 1976-1977 Southborough, MA, Second grade Teacher 1999-2001 Tucson, AZ, Middle School Teacher Developed and taught the public speaking and music appreciation course structure to integrate with school academic program. (Music Director) – Organized, coordinated the music for and rehearsed 16 classrooms for two programs of singing, dancing and drama per year. (Stage Manager) – Coordinated all stage materials; painted backdrops, sewed costumes and helped children with lines and stage placement.