Learning How to Think for Oneself

There’s a fascinating MIT MOOC that I’ve joined (peripherally). It is about Creativity and Education. The members of the Yahoo TAB Group, which is a splendidly interesting group about choice and education, have decided to post their responses as part of the group, since there were thousands (20,000 last time I checked) enrolled in the MOOC and I couldn’t get enrolled (along with many others).

The material for the first week gave many ideas about how, as children, we take on thinking models that serve us later in the ways we learn. Other discussions pointed out the discrepancy between the absolute need for obedience in our public schools with the later need, in business and in the world, for independent thinking.

And that got me to thinking.

It seems to me that we have an astonishing opportunity every day, both in elementary and secondary classrooms, to help children become independent thinkers. Sadly, many of us are still hemmed in tightly with the threats of standardized tests. I think that the Common Core has the potential to help us out of the corner we’re painted in, but perhaps this is cancelled out by our legislatures’ rabid calls for more and more (perceived) accountability.

Every day, we could set up experiences that help our children think, help them take specific skills and apply them to real problems and projects, help them grow up into independent thinkers. Good behavior comes naturally, in my experience, when real work happens in our classrooms. I think that elementary teachers have the best chance to nurture this excellent kind of work, if only our administrators near and far would let us.



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