Cheryl Van Ooteghem, the Principal of Program, wrote a piece in late August 2014 about the important role that we play as parents to model how we ‘make our thinking visible’. I asked her permission if I could include it here. She said ‘Yes’. 🙂
“Learning? Thinking? Or Learning to Think?
Everyone sends their child to school to learn. Or do we? Do we send our children to school to become programmed robots who simply regurgitate facts and formulas, or do we send them to school to learn to think?
Learning is not about committing ideas to memory. Learning is about exploring ideas and building on our understanding of the world. Remember your two year old child who never stopped asking “why”? They were learning to make sense of the world around them. Learning is about problem solving, generating ideas, analyzing facts, critically evaluating decisions and asking questions to make sense of things. David Perkins in Smart Schools (1992) says that “learning is a consequence of thinking”. Scores on a test (depending on the test) are not evidence of learning.
I know as a parent, I often said to my children; “think about it”, “think for yourself, or “what do you think?” For those of you with pre-teens and teens, I’m sure, like me, there were plenty of times you wished you knew what they were thinking (well, maybe not all the time)!
As parents we need to model thinking and learning for our children. Instead of saying “I don’t know” or “because I said so”, we need to share our perspectives, insights, ideas and misunderstandings with our children. We need to share how we plan, organize, make a decision and seek clarity at home or at work. We need to share our thinking with our children so they can develop their own ideas and learn how to think.
When our children offer a differing opinion, we need to value what they have to say, instead of allowing it to become a “because I said so” power struggle. We need to ask our children this simple question; “what makes you say that?”, and listen – really listen. We need to have them explain and share their thinking with us. Even when their ideas are very different from ours, we need to give them their voice, and then offer ours with an explanation as to why we think that way.
Tonight when your children come home from school don’t ask them what they learned today or what they did. Instead, ask them what made them think today. When they look at you as if you have two heads and have completely lost it, ask them more questions. Push them to think. Together, we need to encourage them to question what they see and read on the internet, we need to model for them how to make informed decisions, and we need to prepare them for jobs not yet created.
Excited, interested energy is learning, because that’s when thinking occurs; that’s when children own their learning, and that’s what going to school is all about.”