Developing Thinking; Developing Learning: A Guide to Thinking Skills in Education

Developing Thinking; Developing Learning: A Guide to Thinking Skills in Education

Developing Thinking; Developing Learning: A Guide to Thinking Skills in Education

Developing Thinking; Developing Learning: A Guide to Thinking Skills in Education

Excerpt

The human brain is made of many parts. Each has a specific
function: to turn sounds into speech; to process colour; to register
fear; to recognise a face or distinguish a fish from a fruit. But this is
no static collection of components; each brain is unique, ever
changing and exquisitely sensitive to its environment. Its modules
are interdependent and interactive and their functions are not
rigidly fixed; sometimes one bit will take over the job of another, or
fail, owing to some genetic or environmental hiccup, to work at all.
Brain activity is controlled by currents bound together in a dynamic
system of systems that does millions of different things in parallel. It
is probably so complex that it will never succeed in comprehending
itself. Yet it never ceases to try.

(Carter, Mapping the Mind)

As Carter (1998: 10) points out, the workings of the brain are complex. Teaching students how to maximize their thinking potential is therefore not straightforward. Often, in education, we become so focused on 'what' students must learn that we forget 'how' best to ensure they learn. Each individual student possesses a uniquely wired pair of cerebral cortices, which will influence, and in turn be influenced by, life experiences. Physiological studies of the brain suggest that some functions of the mind arise from differing areas of the brain. Problem solving, inferring and synthesizing, for example, have been shown to develop in the frontal lobes of the cerebral cortex. Speech and comprehension are more likely to arise within the auditory cortex, further behind the frontal lobes. The intricate neural networks that connect these areas can potentially be developed in a multiplicity of ways. The intent of education should be to stimulate the development of these kinds of networks, to develop the mind and its associated cognitive capabilities. This book is focused on suggesting what educators can do to support cognitive development while children are in school. Between the ages of 5 and 16 years, average pupils will spend more than half their waking hours at school. Educators, therefore, have significant opportunities to shape childrens' patterns of behaviour, ways of learning and thinking for life. This book attempts to set out for teachers how the interplay between thinking programmes, learning activities and tea-

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