Enhancing Learning and Thinking

By Robert F. Mulcahy; Robert H. Short et al. | Go to book overview

16
Enhancing Learning and Thinking: Some Questions

Jac Andrews, Robert H. Short, and Robert F. Mulcahy

Although some people suggest that education should return to teaching the three "r's," widespread support seems to favor a move toward other, even more fundamental aspects of education. These fundamentals involve teaching children how to become more active in their learning and thinking along with becoming more purposeful, independent, and creative in their problem solving and decision making. Thinking is not a fourth "r," but a variety of critical skills inherent in academic tasks such as reading, writing, and arithmetic that need to be more fully addressed by educators. For example, writing requires among other things, the ability to analyze, synthesize, and organize information, in addition to being able to monitor and evaluate one's own performance. Mathematical problem solving requires a variety of thinking skills beyond the ability to memorize rules and perform computations; and as noted by Leong (chapter 10 in this volume), and Mancini et al. (chapter 11), skilled reading performance is the result of integrated cognitive processing skills and a variety of knowledge-based subskills.

There is clearly a need for educators to focus their efforts on improving those higher-level cognitive skills that will enable children to become independent and productive learners and thinkers. Because of the rapidly changing technological environment in which we live, these skills are more important today than they have been at any other time. It is increasingly apparent that children need to know how to learn the new information and skills they will require in their lives and not just what to learn. Generally, research over the past decade indicates that many children are having difficulty learning, primarily because: (1) they tend to be passive rather than active learners; (2) they do not think that

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