What does it mean to see? To think? To what extent can we talk about seeing as a variety of thinking?* And, from that, if our schools aim to help students develop and improve their thinking about the world, shouldn’t our schools aim to help students improve all kinds of thinking (i.e. not just symbolic-linguistic thinking)?
Take the growing chatter about creative thinking, design thinking, divergent thinking, innovation, problem-based learning or whatever you want to call it—those varieties of thinking aimed at synthesizing knowledge in problem situations. I’m talking big, ill-structured, open-ended, inquiry-based sorts of situations.
When I hear people talk about these, there follows a tacit assumption that if you give students an opportunity to examine a problem and to work on it--especially if you free them from the arbitrary constraints of the classroom--they can use their minds in ways we never imagined.
Originally posted, in slightly different form, on my previous (and now closed-down) blog, this is a post that lists some common assumptions identified by Earl C. Kelley in his wonderful (and sadly out-of-print) book Education for What is Real.
I’ve returned to this list of Kelley’s assumptions several times every year of my teaching career, just to check in, to see if I’ve changed my mind about these ideas, and to continually challenge myself to remain thoughtful. (I have lots of books that fulfill that function, but this might be my favorite.) Every time I return to this list I find that a different item resonates with me in a slightly different way. (This time it’s #9, as I sort out some ways to elevate process over final product in my classes.)
One note: Kelley clarifies that not all teachers and school administrators proceed on these assumptions; they are, in his words, the “usual,” not the “universal.”
I’ll just leave them here for you. Anything I add would be mere noise. Here they are, “Some Common Assumptions of Education”:
Originally posted as the third in a series of posts about Earl C. Kelley’s Education for What is Real. If you’re interested, you can find my first post about the book HERE, in which I attempt to trace the origins of my particular copy of the book, and the second post HERE, in which I discuss the drift of the book’s argument.
photo credit: Night Owl City via photopin cc
My relationship to grades is complicated. I’ve never been satisfied with the way grades worked in my classroom. It always felt arbitrary. You know: why was a particular quiz question worth 10 points and not, say, 6? And where does this concept of “worth” come from? What qualities in a student assignment confer “worth” or value? I’d like to think it’s complexity of thought, but really I just made it up. I found myself weighting certain components of an assignment to encourage student attention or to compel compliance (“No-name papers get an automatic point deduction” or whatever).
Charlie Huette is a public school teacher who also keeps a notebook. He dreams about making school just a little less terrible. Many of the posts you find here are based on notebook entries. You can learn more about Charlie by visiting the about page.