Thinking across Cultures

By Donald M. Topping; Doris C. Crowell et al. | Go to book overview

34
Making Good Thinking Stick: The Role of Metacognition, Extended Practice, and Teacher Modeling in the Teaching of Thinking

Robert J. Swartz University of Massachusetts at Boston

In contrast to classrooms that are primarily oriented toward giving students "the facts" thinking classrooms are exciting places for both students and teachers. This is especially true when these classrooms revolve around think­ing activities that infuse teaching for critical and creative thinking into regular classroom instruction. When we weave into the fabric of a 12th grade English classroom a study of the events in the play Romeo and Juliet in order to make a reasoned judgment about the causes of the tragedy and whether anyone should be held responsible for it, we are tapping Shakespeare at his best. But we are also challenging our students to put their best effort into thinking through these issues. A skillful teacher who helps students to avoid making hasty judgments about these issues and to organize their thinking so that it is careful, thorough, and sensitive to both the realities of the situation as portrayed by Shakespeare and standards of good critical judgment can create a rich atmosphere for such thinking in the classroom. When we look at such classrooms we often see students involved in constructive collaborative work and guided open discussion conducted without penalty for going up blind alleys. This typically leads to an investigative effort and ferment of ideas in which every member of the class participates. This contrasts sharply with classrooms in which teachers practice more didactic teaching styles that focus on the facts of plot, structure, and character only, and do not pose questions that challenge students' thinking.

It is not just in high school classrooms that teachers are restructuring the use of traditional curriculum materials to teach for thinking in this way. When students in a 1st grade classroom are challenged to do better thinking than Chicken Little and think through how to determine what really caused the bump on her head, the life in this classroom becomes similarly transformed

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