Picture my classroom. 25 adolescent boys. Me, standing at the front having just given clear instructions for the students to begin their task. All engaged, scribbling away at their workbooks with an earnestness to complete the task. All except one, Jamar, listlessly rocking back on his chair gazing at the ceiling. I begin to formulate what I’ll say to him to get him back on task. I consider how I can convey to him my concern over his seeming lack of work.
All I muster is ‘Jamar, what are you doing?’ His reply enlightens me.
‘Thinking, sir.’ he gracefully responds.
Aaahh, I think to myself. Of course. His response begins to get me thinking. Thinking about thinking. We often see the the act in itself, although not exclusively, as a silent one. It often makes no public declaration or a shout from the rooftops. The best thinking is meditative, ponderous and deep. This rumination lead me to consider two questions:
- How do you capture the thinking process when it has occurred?
- What types of thinking should we encourage students to do in our classrooms?
In response to the first question, I have sought to capture the thinking process through the following: the use of simple charts so students can note down ideas. Secondly, giving more time for students to think about ideas and then discuss them. In the past, as a novice teacher, I often asked students to execute a task without allowing ample thinking time. In fact, the ‘dreaded’ silence often made me feel as awkward as being on a bad date devoid of stimulating conversation! I now know how important it is to allow students this invaluable time to generate ideas, evaluate the quality of each one and then commit to following a thought through.
In response to the second question, as educators I feel we need to encourage students to do more deep thinking. As Hattie suggests, lessons will have tasks which facilitate deep and surface learning; expert teachers spend more time on deep learning which is why their students make greater progress. Daniel Kahneman’s book, ‘Thinking: fast and Slow’ taught me how we generally have two types of thinking: instinctual (fast) and meditative (slow).
My vision is to foster a classroom where my students learn how to think critically, creatively and to evalutive. A vision where they will use these thinking skills to navigate an increasingly complex, dangerous and enticing world fervently vying for their attention.