A New Culture
In order to develop a new culture of thinking within our nation’s classrooms, one needs to re-evaluate the true purpose of education. When doing so, educators on the front lines must deliver the message loud and clear on what learning truly looks like and how it occurs. A good starting point is to dream big! An adequate tool to see dreaming in action is the If/Then If/Then process as proposed by Langford International, Inc. The scenario was developed by David P. Langford. See below for its key points:
What - A projection task utilized for prediction analysis and possible outcomes of imagined changes.
When - This scenario is best used when an educator needs a safe method to compare and investigate the possible consequences of possible changes in the educational system.
An example of the If/Then process is showcased below:
The example provided is just for a current issue facing education as a whole in today’s current climate. Scenarios for such a task can be as large or small as one wishes. Remember, the object is to dream and see what may or may not be viable. However, in order to constructively create a new culture of thinking, it must go far beyond a single classroom.
The Value of Thinking
Educational processes can be very slow to move. For far too long, students have been getting mixed messages about the value of truly thinking outside of the box. For years, students have been bombarded with the importance of memorization, without truly reaching for personal connections (which is where true understanding takes place.) In fact, according to Ron Ritchhart, author of Making Thinking Visible and Creating Cultures of Thinking, as educators “we must communicate that learning is a consequence of thinking, not something extra that we tack on but something in which we must actively engage to promote our own and others’ thinking.” In fact, it’s important to question what manner of thinking holds the most promise for students and educators alike. The two video clips provided offer a glimpse into what true learning must become in order for our children to truly succeed in the global economy our world has become.
While it may look daunting to some, there are some easy ways to incorporate this mode of learning into one’s classroom. Some value added learning and thinking measures include the following:
Build upon simple explanations
Observe and understand differing perspectives
Reason with backing evidence
Dig deeper to discover hidden complexities
Identifying the root (or core) of a topic of study
One example challenging myself to bring these ideas into the classroom is my Experiencing the Titanic unit I utilize at the end of the school year. Below are some examples of what the students engage in within this unit. You’ll notice that very little relies on memory or fact recall. Synthesis and analysis are the key components, as they are at the highest end of the thinking spectrum.
This is a small sample of what is included in the entire unit. Consequently, by the end of the study, I turn the students loose with a variety of final project options to explore. These options rely heavily on Marzano’s muptiple intelligence theories. Just look below to see some examples of what students can accomplish when their hearts and minds are engaged.
Developing a new culture of thinking must be looked upon as an opportunity to improve on our own teaching capabilities, while embracing the notion of what true learning and understanding means. When as an educational community we embrace this notion, as educators we can challenge, support, and nurture each other to assist our schools in becoming a true venue of learning at the highest levels; knowing that our students lives (and ours) are transitioning into academic mastery and that’s a winning equation for all involved.