Academic journal article ETC.: A Review of General Semantics

A CRISIS FOR EDUCATORS: An Opportunity for Service

Academic journal article ETC.: A Review of General Semantics

A CRISIS FOR EDUCATORS: An Opportunity for Service

Article excerpt

If teachers in elementary and high schools wish to help their students meet the standards recently laid down by the New York State Education Department (1996), many may have to go through a paradigm shift of their own.

Background

The New York State Department of Education recently listed a series of standards that all Schools of Education must implement within the next year. To our delight, these requirements refer not only to subject matter content, but particularly to the concepts that undergird and integrate knowledge. Here we have a fine opportunity to serve an important community of teachers and learners.

The time now seems right for professionals in general semantics, critical thinking, Roots of Knowing, and other related cognitive domains to offer our skills and services; i.e. to:

a. demonstrate how our connective concepts and teaching methods can help teachers meet the standards now imposed upon schools of educations;

b. demonstrate how students in all grade levels can master the connective concepts, thereby meeting the new State Education requirements.

Relational Thinking Now in Demand

Federal and state governments are now issuing tougher standards that require educators to make major changes. These standards call for the type of relational thinking that counteracts the either- or, right-wrong dualism characterizing at least half of our college freshmen.

New Standards: A Crisis for Educators

If teachers in elementary and high schools wish to help their students meet the standards recently laid down by the New York State Education Department (1996), many may have to go through a paradigm shift of their own. Why? Because state indicators for successful high school graduation now require the kind of relational thinking college faculties expect of students. The new standards do not simply specify the knowledge or content to be mastered in various subjects. Above and beyond facts, the standards require students to master ways in which subject matter is structured or organized, ways in which events are related to each other, and the ways in which events are ordered - that is, how they change, grow, and develop over sequences of time. These new standards are highly abstract for teachers and students alike.

What Relational Thinking?

For example, in the domain of social sciences students must demonstrate abilities to:

* "compare and contrast experiences and events"

* "understand broad patterns, relationships and interactions during and across eras"

* "demonstrate how circumstances of time and place influence perspective"

* "analyze evidence critically"

Etc.

To achieve high standards in math, science, and technology students must be able to:

* "compare and contrast quantities"

* "recognize patterns and systems"

* "recognize sequences"

* "use inductive and deductive reasoning"

Etc.

Very similar requirements appear on the list for the domain of literature. In fact, boiled down, all the new standards require students to understand variations in the structure, order, and relations of knowledge.

Type I: Facts: an Easier Way

Teachers would have less stress if the new standards simply specified bodies of information which students should know. For example, teachers have little difficulty giving answers to such questions as "Who was President during the Civil War?" Or, "What are the three main bodies of the United States government?" Or, "When and where did Japan attack America?"

Type II: Relational Insights: More Difficult

It is not nearly so easy to prepare students to "compare events leading to World War I with those leading to World War II." Or, to "describe how a dictator gains control of his people." Or, "Describe the interrelationships between the incidence of tuberculosis and the educational level of a people? …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.